Jamaat Ansar al-Sunna

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Jamaat Ansar al-Sunna
جماعة أنصار السنة
Participant in Iraq War, Iraqi insurgency
Jama‘at-Ansar-al-Sunna logo.png
Active September 2003–December 2007 (Subsequently operated under name of Ansar al-Islam)[1]
Ideology Sunni Islam,
Sufism
Leaders Abu Abdullah al-Shafi'i
Abu Wayil
Area of
operations
Iraq
Strength 1000+
Originated as Ansar al-Islam
Became Ansar al-Islam
Allies Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order
1920 Revolution Brigade
Jaish al-Rashideen
Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance
Hamas of Iraq
Jeish Muhammad
Opponents Mahdi Army,
Iraqi Armed Forces

Jamaat Ansar al-Sunnah (Arabic: جماعة أنصار السنهJama‘at ‘Anṣār as-Sunnah, "Assembly of the Helpers of Sunnah"), also known as Jaish Ansar al-Sunna, was an Iraqi Sunni insurgent group that fought against US Troops and their local allies during the Iraq War. The group was primarily based in northern and central Iraq, and included mostly Iraqi (Both Sunni Arab and Sunni Kurdish) fighters. In 2007, it began operating under the name Ansar al-Islam. [1]

History[edit]

The group was founded in September 2003 as an umbrella organization for guerrillas, with former members of Ansar al-Islam who had fled to Iran after a 2003 joint operation by Iraqi and US forces.[2] Their goal was to expel U.S. occupation forces from Iraq.

Following the twin Sunni and Shiite uprisings of the spring and summer of 2004, and the subsequent decrease in U.S patrols and the creation of "no-go" areas in the Sunni Triangle, Ansar al-Sunna was believed to be part of a loose coalition of insurgent groups (also including guerrillas from al-Tawhid wal Jihad) controlling the Sunni cities of Fallujah, Ramadi, Samarra, and Baquba (U.S. offensives later largely wrested control from Baquba, Fallujah, and Samarra, although underground guerrilla resistance forces still had a strong presence in those cities).

The United States and Iraqi Interim governments linked Ansar al-Sunna with Abu Musab al-Zarqawis, Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (al-Qaeda in Iraq). In October 2004 Ansar al-Sunna released a video beheading of a Turkish truck driver on its website. The kidnappers on the video identified themselves as members of al-Tawhid wal Jihad(Source: MERIA). However a letter[3][4] intercepted by the American military in January 2007 revealed the two groups had began feuding.

In July 2007 representatives of the Jaish Ansar al-Sunna were instrumental in forming an alliance of Sunni militant groups to prepare for the withdrawal of American and allied forces.[5] The new alliance was composed of seven groupings explicitly excluding al-Qaeda and the Baath-party. This delimitation revealed a split between al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sunna over tactics, alleged attacks on Iraqi Shia civilians being a main point of difference.

In December 2007, the leader of the Ansar al-Sunnah, Abu Abdullah al-Shafi, issued a communique acknowledging that the group was simply another name for Ansar al-Islam. The communique went on to state that from that point on, they would return to operating under the name of Ansar al-Islam.[1]

Suicide bombings[edit]

Jaish Ansar al-Sunna claimed responsibility for several suicide bombings in Iraq, including the devastating attacks on the offices of two main Kurdish political parties, KDP and PUK, in Irbil on February 1, 2004, that killed at least 109 people. The strikes were one of the bloodiest attacks launched by insurgents since the start of the war.

It produced tapes and CDs that marked the "last testaments" of six bombers from previous attacks, three of whom appeared non-Iraqi. Its name also appeared with eleven other insurgent groups on leaflets passed out in the Sunni Triangle cities of Ramadi and Fallujah from January 31, 2004 to February 1, 2004. The leaflets detailed the insurgency's plan for seizing Iraqi cities following the departure of coalition forces.

It also had a strong presence in Mosul where it launched an offensive in November 2004 along with other foreign fighters and militant groups. After the Battle of Mosul (2004) the group maintained pockets of resistance in the western part of the city. It continued to clash with units such as the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment and it claimed responsibility for a major suicide bombing of the dining hall at the US base in Mosul on December 21, 2004 that killed 14 US soldiers, 5 US citizen Halliburton employees and 5 Iraqi soldiers. The attacker was reportedly a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest under the uniform of an Iraqi security officer. The suicide bomber's name was Abu Museli.

Militant actions[edit]

Ansar al-Sunna was one of three groups responsible for the kidnapping of foreigners in Iraq in 2004 and the subsequent broadcasting of their beheading via the Internet. In two of the videos, "The Emir" is heard warning Iraqis not to deal with US forces. The voice threatened to kill and send to Hell all who disobey. Ansar al-Sunna was also among the most active users of IEDs against coalition forces, a fact testified to by the numerous videos released of IED attacks claimed by the group. [1]

References[edit]

  • MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base (2006) "Ansar al-Sunnah Army"
http://www.tkb.org/Group.jsp?groupID=3921

See also[edit]