Syria is an enigmatic country. Ruled by a Ba’athist regime whose top leadership is drawn from a minority religious sect, Syria must contend with the enmity of the West and Islamists alike. This special issue presents a variety of perspectives on this important and controversial country. The article on Mustafa Setmariam Nasar profiles the extraordinary exploits of this influential al-Qaeda leader. The second article explores official Syrian complicity in the transit of foreign fighters into Iraq, analyzing it in the context of Syria’s deteriorating national security environment. An analyst and writer living in Syria raises the concerns over sudden political change by drawing a comparison to neighboring Iraq, where the destruction of the Ba’ath regime has led to the demise of secularism in that country. Finally, the interview with Ali Sadreddine Bayanouni, the leader of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and the most important Syrian opposition figure, gives an insight into the ambitions and limitations of Syrian Islamists.