"A Spanish citizen who studied in Birmingham and headed a tech company based in a London suburb is leading efforts to rebrand one of Syria’s most prominent armed Islamist opposition groups.
Labib al-Nahhas is the “foreign affairs minister” for Ahrar al-Sham, agroup that has fought in alliances with al-Qaida’s Syrian franchise, and aims to establish a Sunni theocracy in Syria. One of its original leaders also had personal connections with Osama bin Laden.
His role sends him around western capitals arguing that his group is an ultra-conservative but legitimate part of the opposition, using his own European roots to reach out to diplomats wary of the group’s history and beliefs.
“From the ideological point of view, I am an Islamist of course; if not I wouldn’t be in this movement. But the difference, what enables me to do my work better, is that I understand both worlds and not only from a theoretical point of view,” he said in an interview about his role in the group and its new positioning."