abhat al-Nusra was one of several groups that in late November rejected the freshly anointed Western-backed group of Syrian political exiles baptized as the National Coalition. Instead, Jabhat declared its intention to form an Islamic state in Aleppo. That statement was broadly rejected by many members of the Syrian opposition, but Abu Adnan says his group will continue to fight for it. “Those in exile think that we will scare the West and Europe if we are an Islamic state. We are not an Islamic state now and what have these countries offered over the past year and nine months? Why has the west for a year and nine months not given anything to the revolution?”

Minorities, he said, had nothing to fear from such a state. “The Prophet, peace be upon him, had a Jewish neighbor,” he said. “Whoever has not oppressed, or participated in the harming of the people, his rights are his rights and his duties are his duties.” But those who had blood on their hands, whether minorities or not, would be shown no mercy. Abu Adnan defended several recent videos including one of a member of Jabhat al-Nusra gunning down unarmed regime loyalists. “We detained them, lined them up and killed them. They were fighters fighting us. So this is terrorism, but we forget that there is an entire state that has terrorized people for 40 years?” he said.

He said that if anything, the Jabhat was keeping itself in check. “Many of the people who are wanted by us, who we have scores to settle with, very important people are present in Turkey, in areas close to the border, we can easily reach them. It would be very easy for us, but we won’t do this and yet they still call us terrorists. We are fighting in Syria, and who are we fighting? The security forces, the Shabiha (pro-regime thugs also listed as terrorists by the U.S) and those who help the regime.”