27 April 2004. Thanks to M.
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Terrorism: Jihadist Website Describes Jihadist Movements in Iraq
Iraq-- FBIS Report in Arabic 14 Mar 04 -- FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Sunday, March 14, 2004
Journal Code: 9023 Language: ENGLISH Record Type: FULLTEXT
Document Type: Daily Report; News
Word Count: 7,869
(FBIS Report) The following article by Dr Hani al-Siba'i, the director of Al-Maqrizi Center for Historical Studies, entitled: "Ansar Al-Islam, Ansar Al-Sunnah Army, Abu-Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi, and Abu-Hafs Brigades" was posted 14 March on Al-Basrah Net. The following is the text of the article.
Has Iraq become a fertile soil for Islamic jihadist movements? Is there coordination between these movements and al-Qa'ida network?
The answers to these questions are found the following:
First: A historical background of the Islamic movements in Iraq's Kurdistan.
Second: What is the Ansar al-Islam group, and when and how did it emerge?
Third: What is the Ansar al-Sunnah Army, and when and how did it emerge?
Fourth: Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi's relationship with Al-Qa'ida and the events
in Iraq. Fifth: The statements of Abu-Hafs
Brigades and their credibility.
First: A historical background of the Islamic movements in Iraq's Kurdistan
When the Islamic caliphate was defeated at the hands of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk in 1924 some ulema (clerics) urged the people to resist the Ataturk secularism and safeguard the Islamic identity. This was how the seeds of Islamic organizations were sown. However, it was not until 1952 that these organizations publicly emerged in the Kurdish areas at the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) group. Nevertheless, the central authority in Iraq-- the Ba'th Party -- dissolved the MB in 1971, but the group remained unofficially intact.
The emergence of Al-Salafiyah (Islamic reform movement)
Al-Salafiyah emerged strongly in the late 1960s, assisted by the media, and via missionary groups and direct communication during the pilgrimage and minor pilgrimage seasons. In 1978, a salafist ideology reminiscent of "the Saudi model" emerged in Kurdistan but it was different from the ideology of the MB.
The emergence of the jihadist trend
Simultaneously with the emergence of Al-Salafiyah, the jihadist trend materialized in 1978. In 1979, two important events took place: the success of the Iranian Revolution in Iran and the communist occupation -- by the former Soviet Union -- of Afghanistan. Both events prompted the jihadists to set up the first armed Islamic group in the mountains of Kurdistan in 1980. The newborn group was called the "Islamic Kurdistan Army." The media, meanwhile, reported the news of the Afghan mujahidin and their battles against the communists. Hardly had 1985 departed than the "Al-Rabitah Al-Islamiyah Al-Jihadiyah" (Islamic Jihad Association) was established. Two years later, Shaykh Uthman Bin-Abd-al-Aziz formed the current "Tanzim Al-Harakah Al-Islamiyah" (Islamic Movement Organization) in Iraq's Kurdistan.
With the emergence of this multifaceted Islamic trend of the MB, the theological Al-Salafiyah, and the jihadist Al-Salafiyah, a secular trend of seven different parties appeared. These parties included the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), led by Jalal Talabani -- near the Iranian border, with loyalty to Iran -- and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by Mas'ud Barzani -- near the Turkish border, with loyalty to Ankara.
Iran's relationship with the Islamic Kurdish movements
During the Iraq-Iran war and in the aftermath of the Iraqi forces' attack on the city of Halabjah, many Kurds left their territories to go toward the Iranian border where the Iranian Government built refugee camps to shelter them. In these camps, a new trend surfaced among the Kurds that advocated the Shiite ideology of the Iranian Revolution. In the same refugee camps, on the other hand, the Sunni salafist ideology intensified to resist this new trend among the refugees. The Iranian Government finally became weary of this Sunni salafist trend and began to tighten the noose around its proponents, especially after the end of the war in 1988. The Iranian Government labeled the Sunni salafists as the proponents of "Wahhabism" (Sunni form of Islam founded by Muhammad Bin-Abd-al-Wahhab (1703-1792)) to alienate the Kurds from them -- particularly the Kurds that believed in the Al-Shafi'iyah (a school of Islamic jurisprudence named after Muhammad Bin-Idris al-Shafi'i (767-819)) and Al-Hanafiyah (one of the four Sunni schools of religious law named after Muhammad Bin-al-Hanafiyah (637-710)).
When the Second Gulf War ended in 1991, the advocates of the salafist, Sunni, and jihadist thought returned to Kurdistan from the Iranian refugee camps. However, signs of dissent surfaced within the Islamic motherland movement as a result of the emergence of a pro-Iran ideology represented by clerics such as Mullah Ali Baper, a leader of the Islamic Movement, and another ideology of a salafist, Sunni, theological, and jihadist tenet. In 1988, a new group influenced by the MB thought came into being. The new jihadist group was called the "Islamic Movement," led by Shaykh Uthman Bin-Abd-al-Aziz. Disagreement within the Islamic Movement afterward led to the establishment of a new group called "Al-Nahda" (Renaissance) in 1992. Two years later, a new group was formed under the name of the "Islamic Union," which adopted the MB political approach and distanced itself from the jihadist action. As time went by -- specifically in 1999 -- the "Islamic Movement" under Mullah Ali Abd-al-Aziz agreed to merge with "Al-Nahda Movement." The new group was called the "Islamic Unity Movement."
The Islamic Unity movement embarked on a large-scale da'wah activity in Iraq's Kurdistan. It set up two independent radio stations and inaugurated a large mosque. However, some parties, including Iran and the PUK, interfered to win the loyalty of one party to the detriment of the other. As a result, dissent surfaced among the ranks of the new movement until the new coalition collapsed in 2001. The movement split into two groups: the Islamic Movement under Mullah Ali Abd-al-Aziz and the Islamic Jama'ah under Shaykh Ali Baper.
Smaller Islamic groups such as Al-Tawhid and Al-Markiz tried to mend fences between the Islamic Movement and the Islamic Jama'ah but their attempts failed. In September 2001, it was announced that a new group was formed under the name of "Jund Al-Islam," which included some Islamists who served in jihad in Afghanistan. This group was led by Abu-Ubaydallah al-Shafi'i -- his real name was Wirya Huliri (name as transliterated) who was affiliated with the Islamic Unity Movement in Arbil in 1994. The "secular" PUK claimed that Al-Shafi'i came to know Al-Qa'ida in Afghanistan. Jund Al-Islam, which later changed its name into Ansar Al-Islam, became popular in the cluster of villages near the border with Iran. The nine villages that extended from Halabjah included Al-Biyarah township, which was the headquarters of Jund Al-Islam leadership. The group promoted the idea of sacrifice in anticipation of God's reward in the hereafter. It ordered stores to close at prayer time, banned the sale of liquor, and urged preparation for jihad against the nation's enemy.
Second: Ansar Al-Islam
On December 10, 2001 three Islamic groups -- Jund Al-Islam, the Kurdish HAMAS, and Al-Tawhid Movement merged into one group called Ansar Al-Islam. Mullah Fatih Krekar, whose real name was Najm-al-Din Faraj, was the most prominent leader of the new group. With the formation of Ansar Al Islam, there were three armed Islamic groups in Kurdistan as follows:
1- The Islamic Movement, which took Halabjah as its headquarters and then moved to nearby villages.
2- The Islamic Jama'ah with its headquarters in Khormal.
3- Ansar Al-Islam with its headquarters in Biyarah.
Ansar Al-Islam's ideology
Ansar Al-Islam adopts the salafist, Sunni, and jihadist thought. It is practically influenced by the Saudi salafist model and ideologically by Sayyid Qutb, God bless his soul, and such groups as the Egyptian Jihad.
The hierarchical structure of Ansar Al-Islam is comprised of the following:
1- The amir and his two deputies.
2- The military committee.
3- The shari'ah committee.
4- The shari'ah court.
5- The information committee.
6- The security committee.
Ansar Al-Islam's military and security capabilities
Ansar al-Islam does not have outstanding military capabilities, but its position in rugged mountainous areas helps it employ guerrilla warfare tactics- - this includes the hit-and-run strategy. On the security side, Ansar Al-Islam is very cautious. It does not use cell phones or electronic devices and prefers direct communication via individuals to prevent anyone from knowing their whereabouts.
Ansar Al-Islam's relations with the secular parties
Ferocious battles erupted between Ansar Al-Islam and the PUK. Despite its superiority in number and weapons, the PUK sustained substantial losses at the hands of Jund Al-Islam, that later joined Ansar Al-Islam, which employed the guerrilla warfare tactics. More than 1,000 people of Talabani's PUK were killed or wounded as compared with 74 people killed or wounded from Jund Al-Islam. However, when Jund Al-Islam merged with Ansar Al-Islam, Mullah Fatih Krekar, who became the amir of the new movement, tried to accommodate the circumstances that prevailed in the aftermath of the September events in New York. Krekar therefore, announced he was interested in a truce with the PUK and met PUK leader Jalal Talabani. However, on April 2, 2002, the residence of Dr Barham Salih came under attack in an attempt on Salih's life. Dr Salih, who held US citizenship, was the PUK second-in-command and the party's prime minister. Some Islamists viewed him as the CIA number one man in Kurdistan. He was known for his secularism and extreme hostility toward Islamic movements. Ansar Al-Islam denied any involvement in the assassination attempt, but the PUK insisted on holding Ansar Al-Islam responsible. The PUK claimed there were three perpetrators: Abd-al-Salam Abu-Bakr, member of the Al-Sulaymaniyah center of the Islamic Jama'ah; a person called Qays, who managed to escape but was later arrested at the new Al-Sulaymaniyah home of a member of the Islamic Jama'ah; and a third man called Cameran Muryasi, who was a former member of the Al-Tawhid group -- one of the three groups that make Ansar Al-Islam. This incident led to the deterioration of Ansar Al-Islam's relations with the PUK.
Ansar Al-Islam's relations with Barzani's KDP
Ansar Al-Islam's relations with the KDP under Mas'ud Barzani were not good, either. The KDP held Ansar Al-Islam responsible for the assassination of Francois al-Hariri, a KDP prominent leader in the city of Arbil. At that time, some persons desecrated a tomb that was considered holy to the followers of the Naqshbandi religious order. The so-called "Shaykh Husam-al-Din" tomb was located in "Bakhah Kun" village near the Biyarah area, which was under Ansar Al-Islam's control. Those individuals transferred the remains of the tomb to a public cemetery to prevent the people from visiting the shrine. Both the KDP and PUK took advantage of this incident and began to sow discord. Mullah Krekar, however, formed a committee to investigate the incident and later announced that some persons affiliated with his group committed the act without the group's permission. Mullah Krekar said he would try them according to the shari'ah law. Consequently, the people questioned Ansar Al-Islam's ability to control its members, which embarrassed the group and created problems with other conflicting parties in the Kurdish area. Anyway, the Naqshbandi elders issued statements deploring the incident and vowing revenge against Ansar Al-Islam. As a result, the two antagonistic parties, the PUK and KDP, agreed to eliminate their joint enemy, Ansar Al-Islam.
Ansar Al-Islam's link to Al-Qa'ida
In the wake of the 11 September events, Jalal Talabani took advantage of
the US Administration's hysteric fear of the Islamic jihadist groups and
tried to settle political scores with them. He told Washington that Ansar
Al-Islam was linked to Al-Qa'ida and said there were camps sponsored by Bin
Ladin in the areas under Ansar Al-Islam's control. The
PUK propaganda amounted to allegations that Ansar Al-Islam had chemical laboratories to manufacture hazardous weapons.
Prior to the war on Iraq, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Ansar Al-Islam was developing chemical weapons. He said the group was affiliated with Saddam's regime, which was stockpiling chemical weapons in the areas under Ansar Al-Islam's control. Mullah Krekar however, issued a statement denying these allegations. Muhammad Hasan, the man in charge of Ansar Al-Islam's public relations, said he would welcome everyone who would like to visit these areas to investigate the claim. Hasan however, did not deny the presence of some Iraqi Arabs who fled the government in Baghdad.
Ansar Al-Islam denied any link to Al-Qa'ida; this might be true from a purely organizational perspective. However, individual relations existed between some persons affiliated with Al-Qa'ida and some members of Ansar Al-Islam during their presence in Afghanistan. There was also the common bond of Islam among all Islamic movements in the world. We should not also forget that both groups have a similar ideology. Although the modus operandi of the two groups is different in nature and priorities, both are salafist, jihadist, and Sunni movements that derive their ideas from the same Sunni sources. Al-Qa'ida, however, is a global network that does not target a particular Islamic country. It was basically established to expel the enemies of Islam from every region they occupy including Afghanistan, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Yemen. When the US forces settled in the Arabian Peninsula in the aftermath of the Second Gulf War, Al-Qa'ida's priority became the expulsion of the Americans from the Arabian Peninsula. Ansar Al-Islam, on the other hand, is a local group that is in agreement with other Kurdish groups -- whether secular or Islamic -- to win independence, albeit under Islamic rule. However, it differs from some other Islamic groups that adopt a democratic approach including the Islamic Union, which is close to the MB and which is represented by a justice minister in Barzani's Government in Arbil. The Islamic Union views the jihadist trend as a stumbling block on the path of a peaceful Islamic action.
Does Al-Qa'ida really exist in Iraq?
In the aftermath of the Second Gulf War, and in the absence of the iron-fist
security control of the central government in Baghdad, the Iraqi province
of Kurdistan witnessed a substantial relocation, particularly in the Islamic
movements' regions adjacent to the Iranian border. It was very easy at that
time to move from Turkey to Kurdistan and then easily cross the Iranian border
to Afghanistan. We believe however, that such transfers did not take place
on a large scale as one might think. It was easier, in fact, to go via Pakistan
from Saudi Arabia or other Gulf countries, which did not at that time impose
strict travel measures, not even for some time after the Second Gulf War.
The situation however, changed after 1995 when Kurdistan became a favored
passage and a less dangerous route than Pakistan, which tightened its control
on passage to and from its territories. Prior to the US occupation of Iraq,
the situation remained the same after Iran arrested some sympathizers with
the Taliban Government and Al-Qa'ida. Many of these sympathizers fled to
Kurdistan especially those who were familiar with the rugged mountainous
routes. Some of them, however, were believed to be killed during the US
bombardment of the areas of Ansar Al-Islam and the Islamic Jama'ah. When
the United States occupied Iraq, the border was actually uncontrolled. At
present, Iraq is viewed as a fertile soil for Islamic movements that seek
to carry out jihad against the United States. Compared to Afghanistan, Iraq
is a better place in terms of the language, features of the people, and popular
sympathy -- whether in Iraq's Sunni regions or its neighboring
countries -- where the masses feel it is their religious and moral duty to let the mujahidin resist the occupation forces in Iraq.
Thus, Shaykh Usama Bin Ladin and his companion, Dr Ayman al- Zawahiri, incited the masses to kill the Americans and expel them from Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula. There is no estimate of the number of Al-Qa'ida members in Iraq. There might be a large number of sympathizers with Al-Qa'ida but in terms of members, who are actually affiliated with the network, the number might be relatively small. They could be present in northern Iraq, Baghdad, and the anti-occupation Sunni regions. Nevertheless, the role of Al-Qa'ida and its sympathizers in Iraq is more like the salt of the earth and it is reminiscent of the role of Arabs in Afghanistan who lifted the spirit of the Afghan people, who fought and sacrificed thousands of martyrs. Although some Arab and other mujahidin entered into Iraq via the Saudi, Syrian, Kuwaiti, Turkish, and Iranian borders the current resistance in Iraq is Iraqi in form and spirit. The number of mujahidin who entered into Iraq was not large but their presence lifted the morale of the Iraqi resistance. The difference between jihad in Afghanistan and jihad in Iraq was that the former was backed by various supporters and countries, whereas the Iraqi resistance was besieged both at home and abroad. Nevertheless, the Iraqi resistance is inflicting heavy losses on the US occupation forces. If it continues and intensifies, the situation will not remain the same, particularly if the resistance reaches an advanced stage of liberating areas and capturing US and other soldiers. The neighboring countries then will have to recognize this resistance and will try to penetrate and contain it by means of financial support. However, the resistance will lose its credibility and will risk division in favor of the enemy if it falls in the trap of support from neighboring regimes.
Third: What is the Ansar Al-Sunnah Army?
Ansar Al-Sunnah Army is an Islamic salafist and Sunni group that announced its establishment five months after the occupation of Iraq. It is a combination of Islamic groups that are opposed to the US occupation of Iraq. All these factions and individuals merged into one Islamic group called Ansar Al-Sunnah Army to distinguish itself from the Shiite "Al-Mahdi Army," which was established by Muqtada al-Sadr, and other Shiite movements. Ansar Al-Sunnah Army is a purely Sunni group that has no relationship with the Shiites in Iraq. Its tenets are clear in the statements it issues. Abu-Abdallah al-Hasan Bin-Mahmud, the amir of Ansar Al-Sunnah Army, underlined the following points:
The reason behind the establishment of Ansar Al-Sunnah Army
In its first statement to the press on 20 September 2003, Ansar Al-Sunnah Army said: "It is known that jihad in Iraq has become an individual duty of every Muslim after the atheist enemy assailed the territory of Islam.
Those who raise the banner of the blessed jihad are the Sunnis, the Ansar
Al-Sunnah Army, and the proponents of tawhid (Islamic concept of monotheism)
and Al-Salafiyah. They took action all by themselves and moved into groups,
each from their own territory. They derive their jihadist program and orders
from the holy Koran and the Sunnah of the
Prophet" (his sayings and doings).
No one else shall reap the fruit
"What is the point that the blood of Muslim mujahidin is shed to resist the occupation forces if a secular Iraqi, an apostate, or a lackey of the United Sates assumes power to implement the US program? This means we return once again to the eras of collaborator governments that rule according to the laws of atheism in the name of Islam while they are actually run by the Jews and Christians. A believer may not twice be bitten from the same hole (Once bitten, twice shy.") Thus, Ansar al-Sunnah Army learns from the experience of previous liberations in the Islamic world where Islamists raise the banner of jihad but secularists reap the fruit of victory.
A blend of people with military and shari'ah expertise
"This is why a detachment of mujahidin, ulema, and political and military experts, who are seasoned in the Islamic theological conflict resolution against atheists, brought together a number of jihadist factions from the north and south that operated separately in the field. They formed a tremendous army under one amir entrusted with drawing up a practical and local program derived from a clear vision of the arena and established on the teachings of the pure faith in accordance with the Koran and pure Sunnah, with the guidance of the clerics and our virtuous ancestors. We called this army -- which adheres to the politics of shari'ah and not the uncontrollable secular politics -- Ansar Al-Sunnah Army. We call on our fraternal brothers in faith and jihad to rally under the banner of this army to achieve the hope of Muslims in an Islamic state that takes pride in Islam and Muslims. God supports a group, satin individual persons. A wolf eats the sheep that goes astray."
Obviously therefore, Ansar Al-Sunnah Army differs from Ansar Al-Islam in terms of the date each of them was formed and the objective of each. Both of them however, are similar in that they are local groups compared to the global Al-Qa'ida network and they both have the same shari'ah sources including the Koran, Sunnah, and ideas of Sunni ulema. They are also similar in their salafist, Sunni, and jihadist approach. No wonder then that some individuals affiliated with Ansar Al-Islam are members of Ansar Al-Sunnah Army since their mutual goal is to expel the US occupation forces from Iraq.
Examples of some of the operations for which Ansar Al-Sunnah Army claimed responsibility:
1- The bombing of the Ruhaymawah police station in Kirkuk on 23 February 2003 (as published meaning 2004) in which 30 policemen were killed and more than 55 others wounded. A statement by Ansar Al-Sunnah Army that claimed responsibility for this operation was signed by the group's military committee.
2- The bombing of Al-Thaqafah police centre in Mosul on 31 January 2004 in which 11 policemen were killed and 50 others wounded.
3- The two Arbil conquests: A statement by Ansar al-Sunnah Army dated 5 February 2004 said: "Two fraternal martyrs -- God Almighty bless their soul -- stormed two hideouts of the devils in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil. Our joy of inflicting harm on the collaborators with the Jews and Christians coincided with our joy of celebrating Id al-Adha."
4- The killing of Canadian and British intelligence men southwest of Baghdad: A statement dated 13 January 2004 said: "On 13 Zu al-Qi'dah (of the Hegira), corresponding to 5 January 2004, a group of mujahidin ambushed two Chevrolet cars of the Canadian and British intelligence in Al-Yusufiyah area southwest of the capital, Baghdad. With grace from God Almighty, the mujahidin destroyed the two cars and killed their eight occupants. A videotape of the operation was recorded but, as usual, the operation was kept a secret. As we assume responsibility for this operation we tell every disgraceful person that God's lions are laying in wait for you. The agony you witness at the hands of the mujahidin is a promise from God Almighty to his believers."
5- A stronghold of the Crusaders was leveled in the village of Tala'far west of Mosul: A statement dated 9 December 2003 said: "We assume responsibility for the heroic martyrdom-seeking operation, which leveled one of the strongholds of the Crusaders in Tala'far village west of Mosul on 15 Shawwal 1424, corresponding to 9 December 2003. Only four soldiers survived from the entire camp of the Crusader US forces. The four were in a state of insanity as a result of the shock. At the time of the operation, there were almost 400 US forces at the camp including the commander."
6- The bombing of a former presidential palace in Al-Ramadi: A statement dated 11 December 2003 said: "Two mujahidin of Ansar Al-Sunnah Army carried out a martyrdom-seeking operation at a former presidential palace in the city of Al-Ramadi, west of Baghdad. The two mujahidin drove a booby-trapped car and took one of the US soldiers with them to the palace. With grace from God the operation killed scores of the Crusader US forces that were stationed at the palace and set scores of vehicles on fire."
7- The killing of a Spanish intelligence man west of Baghdad: A statement dated December 2003 said: "A detachment of the Hamzah Sariyah (squadron) of the Ansar Al-Sunnah Army's Al-Mansurah Brigade monitored the movement of two vehicles of the Spanish intelligence. When the two vehicles were on their way back from the city of Al-Hillah, the detachment ambushed them in the village of Al-Latifiyah in Al-Mahmudiyah sector, west of Baghdad at 16:00. With grace from God, the mujahidin were able to ambush the two cars that were carrying eight intelligence men. Seven of the men were killed instantaneously and the eighth was critically wounded. The mujahidin seized the spoils -- three machineguns and a video camera. Following the operation the mujahidin withdrew safely to their sites. Grace be to God."
8- The bombing of the second PUK centre in Kirkuk: A statement dated 21 November 2003 said: "On 25 Ramadan 1424, corresponding to 20 November 2003, the fraternal mujahid martyr, Abu-Salih, carried out a martyrdom-seeking operation at the second centre of the US-backed PUK -- led by the traitor Jalal Talabani, the current president of the Governing Council -- in Kirkuk city north of Baghdad. Abu-Salih rammed a car packed with explosives into the building killing or wounding scores of people and destroying scores of vehicles that were parked at the building's parking lot. The PUK was busy preparing to receive the Vatican ambassador that day. Immediately after the operation, the US forces, supported by their PUK agents, closed all entrances to the building to hide the fact from the people. The PUK is a secular and Marxist party in the Kurdish arena and it has long been known for fighting Islam and oppressing Muslims."
9- The bombing of the premises of the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad: A statement dated 24 October 2003 said: "Abu-Abdallah al-Dawsari God bless his soul --carried out this operation a week after the Turkish Government dispatched Turkish troops to Iraq. We pray God almighty to grant him martyrdom and reward the mujahidin for his good deed."In a nutshell, Ansar Al-Sunnah Army is an Islamic, salafist, Iraqi, local, and jihadist group. It might include some Arab members who infiltrated the border from Iraq's neighboring countries -- whether they were members or sympathizers with Al-Qa'ida. The statements of Ansar Al-Sunnah Army fall in harmony with its jihadist line and they are
always signed by its military committee.
Fourth: Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi's relationship with Al-Qa'ida and the events
Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi's real name is Ahmad Nazzal Fadil al-Khalayilah but he is nicknamed Al-Zarqawi after the Jordanian city of Al-Zarqa. Al-Zarqawi was born on 20 October 1966. He was among the mujahidin who traveled to Afghanistan in 1989 where he met Arab and Afghan mujahidin leaders. Al-Zarqawi did not have any leading role in Al-Qa'ida. He worked independently and opened a camp to bring the Jordanian and Palestinian youth together. Other than the common bond of Islam and jihadist cooperation pertaining to non-organizational issues, Al-Zarqawi had no relationship with Al-Qa'ida.
The Jordanian Government's charges against Al-Zarqawi
In 1995, Al-Zarqawi returned to Jordan where the security forces detained him. He was later released, and returned to Afghanistan during the Taliban's era. He was concerned about the families of Afghan Arabs whose relatives were killed or captured during the communist occupation of Afghanistan or were arrested when they returned to their countries of Jordan and Palestine. In October 2000 the Jordanian State Security Court sentenced him in absentia for 15 years in prison in what the media then called the case of "Bay'at (fealty for the) al-Imam" or the so-called Al-Tawhid and Jihad Organization. The Jordanian authorities thought that Al-Zarqawi was in Iraq and lodged an official request for his extradition but the Iraqi Government did not respond. At that time Al-Zarqawi was in Afghanistan and not in Iraq because Afghanistan was under Taliban's rule and was a safe country for all jihadist groups in the world. In the wake of the US aggression on Afghanistan on 7 October 2001 and the demise of Taliban's rule, Al-Zarqawi disappeared. He reportedly fled to Iran and entered into Iraq's Kurdistan where he lived in the areas under Ansar Al-Islam's control. On 23 March 2003, the US forces fired 30 Cruise missiles on these areas, killing 57 members of the Islamic Jama'ah and Ansar Al-Islam, and some Arab guests. Tommy Franks justified this aggression by saying that Al-Zarqawi was running the camp.
The Jordanian Government accused Al-Zarqawi of masterminding the killing of Laurence Foley, a US diplomat, in Amman on 28 October 2002.
Al-Zarqawi's name in the daily news
Al-Zarqawi's name appeared in the daily news in an attempt by the US intelligence to find a link between him and the former Iraqi regime to justify the US war on Iraq. At every incident in Iraq, the finger of accusation is pointed at Al-Zarqawi who became a ready-made pretext for the occupation forces. Al-Zarqawi was accused of the bombing of the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad on 7 August 2003. He was accused of the bombing of the UN office, the killing of Baqir al-Hakim, and recently the two massacres in Karbala and Baghdad on the Shiite anniversary of Ashura.
A few days before this incident, the US forces announced that they found a document attributed to Al-Zarqawi in a hideout in Baghdad on 23 January 2004 in which he incited sectarian strife. There were many other allegations that were carefully written in favor of the US occupation. It seemed that the occupation forces tried to use this document to pave the way for the massacre of Karbala, Al-Kazimah, and Baghdad on Ashura Day. The claim of the occupation forces did not convince observers who follow the news of the Iraqi resistance. Rather, many observers questioned the allegation that the document was Al-Zarqawi's.
The reasons we doubt that the document and the Karbala incidents are linked to Al-Zarqawi
We, in turn, doubt that this document and the Karbala incidents are linked to Al-Zarqawi for the following reasons:
First: The occupation forces said that they found a computer disk in which this document was saved that did not carry the name of Al-Zarqawi.
They cited one of the military experts as saying that the handwriting was likely Al-Zarqawi's. This is weird in the world of computers!
Second: It was historically verified that Al-Zarqawi's last letter was published last year immediately after the bombardment of Kurdistan. The letter was addressed to his clan and family in Jordan and was more like a will or a farewell message in which a man was urging his kinfolk to adhere to Islam and proceed with jihad for God. The long letter included many Koranic verses and hadith (sayings) of the prophet. It was most probably written when Al-Zarqawi was in Kurdistan. Most likely, Al-Zarqawi was killed during the US shelling of the areas under the control of the Islamic Jama'ah and Ansar Al-Islam on 23 March 2003. When his fraternal mujahidin were sure that he was killed they published the will, which he wrote to his clan in Jordan.
Third: Our aforementioned viewpoint is all the more true because almost 12 Islamic organizations in Al-Fallujah and some other Iraqi cities confirmed the news of his death during the US shelling last year. This proved the deception and confusion of the US forces and their conspiracy against the Iraqi people by means of publishing lies in an attempt to tarnish the image of the Iraqi resistance and the Islamists and jihadists who sympathize with it.
Fifth: Abu-Hafs Al-Masri Brigades
The statements issued by this faction indicate it is not an official information bureau for Al-Qa'ida. Rather, it is a group of people who are ideologically and spiritually close to the network. The evidence is that the group claimed responsibility for some of the operations in the United States and Europe including the power outage in the United States and London. Therefore, we doubt that Al-Qa'ida carried out these operations, particularly since several audio tapes of Shaykh Usama Bin Ladin and Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri made no reference to these operations. Probably, the statements of Abu-Hafs Brigades might have been issued by some youth who were previously linked to Al-Qa'ida. I do not think however, that they have a direct relationship with Al-Qa'ida's leader or are deputized for him in view of Al-Qa'ida's security situation. This does not mean however, that Abu-Hafs Al-Masri Brigades issues its statements out of a vacuum. It might have links to some groups in Iraq or Afghanistan that supply it with some information.
Following are some statements by Abu-Hafs Al-Masri Brigades:
The first statement to the nation, dated 21 July 2003, dealt with the heroic Kenya operation. It said: "The Brigades of martyr Abu-Hafs al-Masri, God bless his soul, monitored the movement of CIA agents in Kenya. When it was sure there were three agents of the anti-terror department on board a US plane on a domestic reconnaissance flight, the "reconnaissance and monitoring" cell monitored the plane's route, and when it verified that the plane was carrying out a criminal mission in the Kenyan territories in search for the mujahidin's positions on the Kenyan border, the mujahidin from the "operations cell" fired a shoulder-carried Sam-6 missile that directly hit the plane, which crashed on one of the Kenyan mountains. The cell's elements were sure that all 13 people on board the plane were killed. This statement was delayed to secure the cell's safe withdrawal from the circle of danger.
According to the statement of Abu-Hafs Al-Masri Brigades, the objective of the Kenya operation was:
"The operation was one of a series pledged by the mujahid Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, God bless him, almost a month and a half ago. It was one of several messages to the United States -- some of which were issued and some of which will be issued later. In brief, these messages said that the United States should leave us and our faith alone, release our prisoners who are lions in the cages of US prisons, particularly the Guantanemo prisoners and mujahid Shaykh Umar Abd-al-Rahman, God bless him, and halt the war on Islam and Muslims around the world under the pretext of fighting terrorism. This war is actually against Muslims, the Islamic tide, and the Islamic awakening all over the world including the United States. In this statement we call on the American people to wake up from their sleep. The gang of the criminal Bush and the White House is leading the US nation and the entire Western world to destruction."
A statement to the nation, dated 5 August 2003, on the courageous Jakarta operation was the second by Abu-Hafs Al-Masri Brigades. It said: "The Abu-Hafs Al-Masri Brigades today kept its promises. With grace from God Almighty, it dealt a fatal blow to the United States and its collaborators in Muslim Jakarta, which was desecrated by the heinous US presence and the racist and provocative Australian presence. The mujahidin monitored the movement of US intelligence agents who came to interrogate the mujahidin who were detained by the apostate Indonesian Government. The agents resided at the Jakarta Marriott Hotel, which is owned by a US company. The mujahidin sent a booby-trapped car to the hotel's parking lot. The car, which was packed with explosives, was timed to blow up when these agents went into the hotel. The huge explosion violently shook the hotel, damaged a large section of it, and killed or wounded scores of collaborators."
Operation Thunderbolt in the territory of the taghut (tyrant) of the age: Statement Number 3, dated 15 August 2003, said: "In harmony with orders from Amir of Mujahidin Usama Bin Ladin, God bless him, to deal a blow to the US economy, Abu-Hafs Al-Masri Brigades hit two important targets that generate power in North America including major economic cities in the United States and Canada a US ally in the anti-Islam war. More than 50,000,000 people in Toronto and New York and their surroundings were affected by the blackout. For security reasons, we cannot explain how the two sites were sabotaged because the mujahidin will need to use the same creative method soon, God willing."
Our comment: The statement listed several points, including the positive outcome of Operation Thunderbolt. However, we believe these points were more like a political analysis. The statement did not mention any new information to prove that Al-Qa'ida-linked Abu-Hafs Al-Masri Brigades actually carried out the operation in the United States and Canada. This is why we do not take this statement seriously.
The Sayf Al-Adl Operation: Statement Number 4, dated 19 August 2003, said:
"Using a truck packed with explosives, one of the mujahidin stormed the rear
section of the UN building close to the office of Sergio Vieira de Mello,
the criminal special representative of Kofi Annan, the doomed US slave. The
ill-fated De Mello was a friend of criminal Bush. The explosion took place
half an hour after the doomed De Mello met with the criminal Paul Bremer
-- the civil representative of the US occupation -- and some apostates. The
mujahidin carried out the attack at the rear section of the building to avoid
any casualties among innocent Iraqi pedestrians. The mujahidin alerted the
Muslims to stay away from the centers of the atheists and apostates particularly
over the coming days and weeks. God willing, this winter will be full
of vengeance against Islam's enemy."
According to the statement, "this blessed operation killed many criminals including Binon Sivan, the director of the oil-for-food program, who deprived the Iraqi people of food. Scores of others were killed or wounded including US soldiers, apostate Iraqi policemen who serve and guard the US forces and sell their faith for a handful of dollars, and some employees with this atheist organization (the United Nations), which has a dark history vis-à-vis Muslims."
Our comment: We notice that the statement of Abu-Hafs Al-Masri Brigades did not cite any information that proved it carried out the bombing of the UN office in Baghdad. The information in the statement was already published by the media.
The Hidden Arm Operation: Statement Number 5, dated 28 August 2003, said: "A group of mujahidin cut out power to central and north London at a time when London streets swarmed with citizens. The blackout disrupted traffic in this vital capital, which was isolated from the outside world for almost three hours. This action was justified in light of what they (Britain) did to our fraternal brothers in Iraq, Palestine, and Kashmir."
Our comment on the power outage in London: Neither the statement nor any other information provided evidence, which substantiated that the Abu-Hafs Brigades carried out this operation. Similar to the statement that pertained to the blackout in the United States and Canada it was mere propaganda, which we fear will cost the Abu-Hafs Brigades its credibility. This is in contrast with the statements of the Kurdish Ansar Al-Islam, the statements of Ansar Al-Sunnah Army and Al-Qa'ida that were issued via Shaykh Sulayman Abu-Ghayth prior to his disappearance, and the statements of the Center of Studies and Research, which was run by Shaykh Al-Ayiri who was killed in Saudi Arabia last year.
A statement to the nation concerning the two massacres of Baghdad and Karbala was the last statement by the Abu-Hafs Brigades. The statement, dated 2 March 2004, said: "The Brigades of Abu-Hafs Al-Masri, God bless his soul, halted the issuance of statements in view of the numerous operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and in preparation for the next operations, God willing. Today however, a dreadful tragedy took place.
It was part of the US conspiracy to inflame strife among Muslims in Iraq. The US occupation forces today carried a massacre to kill the innocent Shiites in their infidel city, Karbala, and Baghdad. The United States tries to hold the mujahidin of Al-Qa'ida responsible because the mujahidin intimidated the United States in Iraq and elsewhere. The United States seeks to tarnish the reputation of the mujahidin. We tell all Muslims today that we are innocent of this act and innocent of what the Shiites worship other than God. Our objectives are clear to everyone. We target the Crusader United States and its allies, we target the collaborator Iraqi police that are a lackey of the United States and the stick with which the United States strikes the mujahidin in Iraq, we target the US collaborators in the council of atheism or the so-called Governing Council and its satellites of Sunnis and Shiites. O heroic people of Iraq, the mujahidin are people who love God and His messenger. They do not carry out an act in defiance of God 'and they do not kill the soul that Allah has forbidden except for the requirements of justice' (Koranic verse). There are Shiite groups that do not curse the companions of Muhammad, peace be upon him, do not claim that the Koran is incomplete, and do not distort the religion of God."
Our comment on the last statement of the Abu-Hafs Brigades:
Some media sources were skeptical that the statement was issued by the Abu-Hafs Brigades because it was issued hurriedly, almost four hours after the Karbala operation. However, we believe that this statement falls in harmony with the terminology of Al-Qa'ida network for the following reasons:
First: The sermons of Shaykh Usama Bin Ladin and his companion, Dr Ayman
al-Zawahiri, did not include any explicit statement that blamed Iran although
both men were aware that Iran stabbed them in the back and detained sympathizers
and members of Al-Qa'ida. They know that Iran extradited some Saudi Islamists
via Syria, as the Saudi foreign
minister admitted last year.
Second: In their speeches, neither Shaykh Usama Bin Ladin nor his companion, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, gave orders to attack Shiites in Iraq or elsewhere. Rather, Al-Qa'ida previously denied any link to the killing of Baqir al-Hakim, head of the (Supreme Council for the) Islamic Revolution (in Iraq).
Third: Al-Qa'ida never attacked the Shiites in Afghanistan although the network was able to take revenge against them for their known role with the Northern Alliance.
Fourth: Al-Qa'ida never attacked Saudi Shiites although they were an easy target for the network. Although it is a salafist and Sunni network, Al-Qa'ida never incited the killing of Shiites in any printed, audio, or televised statement.
Fifth: It is not in Al-Qa'ida's favor to engage in minor wars that harm its straightforward strategy of expelling the United States and its allies from the Arabian Peninsula and the countries of Islam.
Sixth: Al-Qa'ida does not believe in the excommunication of Shiite people. Those who were killed in Karbala, Musa al-Kazim shrine, and elsewhere, were Muslim people. It was an indiscriminate killing, from which every Islamic group would stand aloof. Moreover, these operations would not be in favor of Al-Qa'ida or any Islamic resistance since they would provoke the resentment of Muslims against those who kill common people.
Seventh: It was not historically proven that the Sunnis took revenge against the Shiites for their well-known role in the occupation of Baghdad by Holago and the killing of the Abbasid caliph. The rulers and Sunni people could have rooted out Iraq's Shiites under the pretext that they conspired against the Sunni Abbasid Caliphate. Al-Qa'ida is not any different from other Sunnis because it follows the Sunnah of its ancestors, who did not take revenge against the Shiites or some Shiite denominations that cooperated with Holago and Timorlink. The Sunnis do not believe in the innovations, which existed during the era of the Baha'is who disseminated these innovations and protected their proponents. The Sunni Seljuks who took over did not retaliate against the Baha'is when the Baha'i rule came to an end.
Iraq is currently a battlefield and a fertile soil for every Islamic movement that views jihad as a priority. Thus, the continuation of the anti-occupation resistance will produce several groups that might later merge into one large group. These groups include Al-Qa'ida and those who ideologically and spiritually sympathize with it in the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf in particular, and Muslims from all corners of the world, in general. We believe that jihad in Iraq will be easier for Al-Qa'ida than in Afghanistan in view of the factor of language, which was an obstacle in Afghanistan, and the factor of the people's similar features. In northern Iraq, there is similarity and interrelations with the Turks who advocate the jihadist thought. Therefore, the presence of Turks in Kurdistan, Al-Sulaymaniyah, Kirkuk, and Mosul and the traditions they share with the Kurds will prompt the resistance to carry out more operations and to inflict heavy losses on the occupation forces not only in the long term but also in the near future.
As for the other regions of Iraq, the Gulf people and some Arab tribes share the same features and customs. Some tribes in Syria have similar traditions with the Iraqi tribes and this is the secret why pressure is exercised on Syria to close its border or threats are made to attack the border. Most of these tribes, including the Shammar tribe, are Sunnis and, of course, they exist in several countries. Such interconnectedness and family interrelations make it easier for the children of these tribes -- whether members of Al-Qa'ida or those who share its ideology -- to move in Iraq than they used to in Afghanistan. This is what the US occupation forces actually fear because this region swarms with young mujahidin. Even if the US forces capture all leaders of Al-Qa'ida or kill them all, the idea of expelling the occupier and nonbelievers from the Arabian Peninsula and the all countries of Islam will not die.
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AFS Document Number: GMP20040322000207
City/Source: Iraq-- FBIS Report
FBIS Document Number: N/A
Geographic Names: Near East; Iraq
NewsEdge Document Number: 200403241477.1_82dc08bb7cf6be4f
Original Source Language: Arabic
WNC Document Number: 0hv33xy0397zpm
WNC Insert Date: March 24, 2004
World News Connection®
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