The Evidence of Jihadist Activity in Syria

As the United Nations prepares to expand its observer mission in Syria and the world community debates what that mission should aim to achieve, there is a parallel conversation taking place in the global jihadist community. Reflecting their position in other Arab Spring revolutions, the jihadists are vociferous in their demands that Bashar al-Assad’s regime be overthrown. In contrast to the situation in other Arab Spring revolutions, in Syria jihadists linked to al-Qa`ida seem to have a militarily relevant capability on the ground. Proof of jihadist capability is elusive, but the combined weight of five indicators suggests that there is an active jihadist element operating on the ground in Syria. Its existence should be acknowledged for policy planning purposes.