The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, continues to use hostages in its custody as bartering chips in its negotiations with the Lebanese government. The group captured Lebanese soldiers and policemen in August, and has executed some of them in its standoff with the government.
Al Nusrah’s propaganda explaining its hostage campaign has focused on the influence of Iran and Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed terrorist group, in Lebanon and Syria. In particular, Al Nusrah is trying to incite Sunnis in Lebanon to rise up against the Shiite forces by portraying them as the aggressors.
Al Nusrah says the families of the hostages should blame the Iranian axis for the executions of their sons, because it is Iran, through its proxies, that is refusing to negotiate. The al Qaeda branch is also attempting to tie the fate of its hostages to the plight of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, thereby portraying itself as the guardian of the Sunni populace. Lebanon has experienced a massive influx of refugees since the beginning of the Syrian war.
How do we know who to arm, to to shoot, who to work with?