Al-Qaeda Entrenchment in Syria
4. Both the Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda's representative in Syria, and the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria seek to promote long-term strategies: the first stage is to gain a hold over the rebel groups and establish a strong foundation in Syria for jihad, which will support the overthrow of the Assad regime. That will be done through collaboration (even if only partial and temporary) with other groups of rebels, especially those with Islamic affiliation. The second stage will be to take over the new Syrian regime formed by the union of all the Salafist-jihadi forces operating in Damascus, or at least to gain significant influence in it. The third stage will be for the jihadist regime established in Damascus (or for any other regime with a jihadist orientation) to establish an Islamic Caliphate in Greater Syria, serving as the front line for Al-Qaeda and the global jihad in the heart of the Middle East. It will wage a terrorist campaign against Israel from the Golan Heights, export terrorism to the West and other countries around the world and be a center for Islamic subversion and terrorism against the pro-Western Arab and Islamic countries.
Assessment of the Al-Nusra Front's Military Capabilities
Assisting the Syrian Population
Evaluation of Risks for Israel, the West and the Pro-Western Arab-Muslim Countries
Ayman al-Zawahiri in a video posted on February 12, 2012, calling for the establishment of a state in Syria which would "liberate" the Golan Heights and wage a jihad against Israel "until the flags of victory fly over the hills of occupied Jerusalem" (YouTube 2013)