Since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, Kuwait has become a hub for fundraising campaigns aimed at delivering donations to the rebel groups in the country. One of these efforts, which bears the name “Ansar Al-Sham” (supporters of Syria), raises money for the Al-Qaeda affiliated group Jabhat Al-Nusra.
It should be mentioned that on April 8, 2013, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi acknowledged that Jabhat Al-Nusra was established by his organization. Following that announcement, the commander of Jabhat Al-Nusra, Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani also acknowledged his group’s relation to Al-Qaeda, and renewed his pledge of allegiance to its leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri. The U.S. government had already designated Jabhat Al-Nusra as a terrorist organization on December 11, 2012.
The Ansar Al-Sham campaign’s stated goal is “to support the mujahideen in Syria”. The campaign has been operating at least since June 2012. It advertises itself via several accounts on social media websites, most prominently YouTube and Twitter. The campaign advertises phone numbers in Kuwait through which those interested can send money to jihad groups in Syria. Seeing that other Gulf countries forbid or crack down on this type of fundraising, those who live outside Kuwait and wish to contribute to the campaign are requested to come to the country in order to submit their donation.
Ansar Al-Sham’s Twitter account, featuring contact information for potential donors’ use
Although the person or persons behind the campaign do not state this in a direct manner, they hint that the funds they raise are sent to Jabhat Al-Nusra. The YouTube account features a number of clips showing Jabhat Al-Nusra fighters, and slogans and titles of clips allude to the group’s name. Thus one clip is titled “Al-Nusra Al-Nusra li Ahl Al-Nusra” (support the people of Al-Nusra). The clip shows the campaign’s phone numbers and contact information on the backdrop of an image of Jabhat Al-Nusra fighters.
Ansar Al-Sham’s YouTube account features an appeal for donations which reads: “Oh you who want to do good! Your brothers are in a dire need for money. Don’t withhold money from them. Support them with money and with the tongue. To support the people of Syria contact 50757971 or 50758039…” The latter are telephone numbers in Kuwait. The statement lists further contact possibilities, including the LINE application, Skype, and Twitter.
Screen shot from Ansar Al-Sham’s YouTube clip, featuring the campaign’s contact information on the background of Jabhat Al-Nusra fighters