In other words, al Nusra is al Qaeda in Iraq.
Via Weekly Standard:
Earlier this week, the State Department designated the al Nusrah Front in Syria as an “alias” for al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). The head of AQI, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi al Husseini al Qurshi (a.k.a. Abu Du’a), “is in control of both AQI and al Nusrah.” The designation says a lot about our knowledge, or lack thereof, of al Qaeda’s clandestine international network.
If you go back through all of the articles written about al Nusrah in the first eleven months of this year, and there have been many, you will be hard pressed to find any that say the group is commanded by the same man who leads AQI. Yes, the connections between AQI and al Nusrah have been widely noted, including in some very thorough reporting. But the State Department’s designation points to something beyond mere connections: command and control.
This is not intended to be a knock on the journalists and analysts (including this author) who have reported on the group. But it further proves an essential point that gets too little attention: Despite eleven-plus years of a multinational assault on the terrorist organization, al Qaeda’s command structure remains opaque.
Look at it another way. It is a short jog from Iraq to Syria, right over the border, and yet there has been no public reporting (or, none that I’ve read) on AQI’s outright “control” of al Nusrah. Again, we’ve known that the two are related, but this is different.