Atop the hill of Tel Ahmar just a few kilometers from Israeli forces on the Golan Heights, Syrian Islamist fighters hoist the al-Qaida flag and praise their mentor Osama bin Laden.

One of the men, a leader of al-Qaida’s Nusra Front, compares their battlefield – a lush agricultural region where dead soldiers lie on the ground near a charred Soviet-era tank – with the struggle their comrades waged years ago in Afghanistan.

“This view reminds us of the lion of the mujahideen, Osama bin Laden, on the mountains of Tora Bora,” he can be heard saying in a video posted by the group, which shows the fighters in sight of Israeli jeeps patrolling the fortified frontier. […]