Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad
|Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad
(Organization of Monotheism and Jihad)
|Participant in the Iraq War|
Flag in use by Jama'at al-Tawhid wal Jihad in late 2004
|Active||1999–17 October 2004|
|Leaders||Abu Musab al-Zarqawi|
|Area of operations||Iraq, limited in Jordan|
|Became||Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn (aka Al-Qaeda in Iraq)|
|Opponents||Multinational force in Iraq,
Iraq (Iraqi security forces, Kurdish and Shia militias),
|Battles and wars||Iraqi insurgency|
Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (Arabic: جماعة التوحيد والجهاد, Organization of Monotheism and Jihad) was a militant Islamist group led by the Jordanian national Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. This group's name may be abbreviated as JTJ or shortened to Tawhid and Jihad, Tawhid wal-Jihad, Tawhid al-Jihad, Al Tawhid or Tawhid. The group started in Jordan, then became a decentralized network during the Iraq insurgency in which foreign fighters were widely thought to play a key role, though some analysts said that it may have also had a considerable Iraqi membership. Following al-Zarqawi's pledge of allegiance to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network on October 17, 2004, the group became known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq (official name Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn). After several rounds of name changes and mergers with other groups, the organization is now known as ISIL (or ISIS) or The Islamic State.
Part of a series on the
| Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Black Standard variant adopted by ISI
Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (1999–2004)
Mujahideen Shura Council (2006)
Islamic State of Iraq (2006–13)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (2013–14)Self-proclaimed as the Islamic State (2014–present)
Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad was started in 1999 by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and a combination of Jordanian and other Islamist militants. Al-Zarqawi was a Jordanian Salafi Jihadist who had traveled to Afghanistan to fight in the Soviet-Afghan War, but he arrived after the departure of the Soviet troops and soon returned to his homeland. He eventually returned to Afghanistan, running an Islamic militant training camp near Herat.
Al-Zarqawi started the network with the intention of overthrowing the Kingdom of Jordan, which he considered to be un-Islamic according to the four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence. For this purpose he developed numerous contacts and affiliates in several countries. Although it has not been verified, his network may have been involved in the late 1999 plot to bomb the Millennium celebrations in the United States and Jordan. Al-Zarqawi and his operatives are held responsible by the US for the assassination of US diplomat Laurence Foley in Jordan in 2002.
Involvement in the Iraq War
Following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, al-Zarqawi moved westward into Iraq, where he reportedly received medical treatment in Baghdad for an injured leg. It is believed that he developed extensive ties in Iraq with Ansar al-Islam ("Partisans of Islam"), a Kurdish Islamic militant group based in the extreme northeast of the country. Ansar allegedly had ties to Iraqi Intelligence; Saddam Hussein's motivation would have been to use Ansar as a surrogate force to repress secular Kurds fighting for the independence of Kurdistan. In January 2003, Ansar's founder Mullah Krekar denied any connection with Saddam's government.
The consensus of intelligence officials has since been that there were no links whatsoever between al-Zarqawi and Saddam, and that Saddam viewed Ansar al-Islam "as a threat to the regime" and his intelligence officials were spying on the group. The 2006 Senate Report on Pre-war Intelligence on Iraq concluded: "Postwar information indicates that Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zarqawi and that the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward al-Zarqawi." According to Michael Weiss, Ansar entered Iraqi Kurdistan through Iran as part of Iran's covert attempts to destabilize Saddam's government.
Following the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, JTJ developed into an expanding militant network for the purpose of resisting the coalition occupation forces and their Iraqi allies. It included some of the remnants of Ansar al-Islam and a growing number of foreign fighters. Many foreign fighters arriving in Iraq were initially not associated with the group, but once they were in the country they became dependent on al-Zarqawi's local contacts.
Goals and tactics in Iraq
The stated goals of JTJ were: (i) to force a withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq; (ii) to topple the Iraqi interim government; (iii) to assassinate collaborators with the occupation regime; (iv) to remove the Shia population and defeat its militias because of its death-squad activities; and (v) to establish subsequently a pure Islamic state.
JTJ differed considerably from the other early Iraqi insurgent groups in its tactics. Rather than using only conventional weapons and guerrilla tactics in ambushes against the US and coalition forces, it relied heavily on suicide bombings, often using car bombs. It targeted a wide variety of groups, especially the Iraqi Security Forces and those facilitating the occupation. Groups of workers who were targeted by JTJ included Iraqi interim officials, Iraqi Shia and Kurdish political and religious figures, the country's Shia Muslim civilians, foreign civilian contractors, and United Nations and humanitarian workers. Al-Zarqawi's militants are also known to have used a wide variety of other tactics, including targeted kidnappings, the planting of improvised explosive devices, and mortar attacks. Beginning in late June 2004, JTJ conducted urban guerrilla-style attacks using rocket-propelled grenades and small arms. They also gained worldwide notoriety for beheading Iraqi and foreign hostages and distributing video recordings of these acts on the Internet.
Notable attacks in Iraq
JTJ claimed credit for a number of attacks that targeted Iraqi forces and infrastructure, such as the October 2004 ambush and killing of 49 armed Iraqi National Guard recruits, and for a series of attacks on humanitarian aid agencies such as the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It conducted attacks against US military personnel throughout 2004, and audacious suicide attacks inside the high-security Green Zone perimeter in Baghdad. Al-Zarqawi's men reputedly succeeded in assassinating several leading Iraqi politicians of the early post-Saddam era, and their bomb attack on the United Nations Mission's headquarters in Iraq led the UN country team to relocate to Jordan and continue their work remotely.
The group took either direct responsibility or the blame for many of the early Iraqi insurgent attacks, including the series of high-profile bombings in August 2003, which killed 17 people at the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad, 23 people, including the chief of the United Nations Mission to Iraq Sérgio Vieira de Mello, at the UN headquarters in Baghdad, and at least 86 people, including Ayatollah Sayed Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim, in the Imam Ali Mosque bombing in Najaf, and 27 people, mostly Italian paramilitary policemen, in the November 2003 truck bombing at the Italian base in Nasiriyah. The attacks connected with the group in 2004 include the series of bombings in Baghdad and Karbala which killed 178 people during the holy Day of Ashura in March; the failed plot in April to explode chemical bombs in Amman, Jordan, which was said to have been financed by al-Zarqawi's network; a series of suicide boat bombings of the oil pumping stations in the Persian Gulf in April, for which al-Zarqawi took responsibility in a statement published by the Muntada al-Ansar Islamist website; the May car bomb assassination of Iraqi Governing Council president Ezzedine Salim at the entrance to the Green Zone in Baghdad; the June suicide car bombing in Baghdad which killed 35 civilians; and the September car bomb which killed 47 police recruits and civilians on Haifa Street in Baghdad.
Foreign civilian hostages abducted by the group in 2004 included: Americans Nick Berg, Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley; Turks Durmus Kumdereli, Aytullah Gezmen and Murat Yuce; South Korean Kim Sun-il; Bulgarians Georgi Lazov and Ivaylo Kepov; and British Kenneth Bigley. Most of them were beheaded using knives. Al-Zarqawi personally beheaded Berg and Armstrong, while Yuce was shot dead by Abu Ayyub al-Masri, and Gezmen was released after "repenting."
Inciting sectarian violence
Alleged sectarian attacks by the organization included the Imam Ali Mosque bombing in 2003 and the 2004 Day of Ashura bombings (Ashoura massacre) and Karbala and Najaf bombings in 2004. These were precursors to a more widespread campaign of sectarian violence after the organization transitioned to become al-Qaida in Iraq, with Al-Zarqawi purportedly declaring an all-out war on Shias while claiming responsibility for the Shia mosque bombings.
JTJ took responsibility or was blamed for some of the biggest early insurgent attacks, including:
- August 7, 2003: Jordanian embassy bombing in Baghdad which killed 17 and injured at least 40.
- August 19, 2003: Canal Hotel bombing that killed Sérgio Vieira de Mello and 22 others at the UN headquarters in Baghdad. More than 100 were injured.
- August 29, 2003: Imam Ali Mosque bombing in Najaf that killed Ayatollah Sayed Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim and more than 85 others. More than 500 were injured.
- November 12, 2003: The truck bombing in Nasiriyah which killed 17 Italian paramilitary policemen and 10 civilians and injured at least 100.
- March 2, 2004: Series of bombings in Baghdad and Karbala that killed some 178 people and wounded at least 500 during the Day of Ashura.
- April 19, 2004: Failed plot to explode chemical bombs in Amman, Jordan, said to be financed by Zarqawi's network.
- April 24, 2004: In a statement published by on the Muntada al-Ansar Islamist web site, Zarqawi took responsibility for an attack on the oil pumping stations in the Persian Gulf.
- May 18, 2004: Car bomb assassination of Iraqi Governing Council president Ezzedine Salim in Baghdad.
- June 18, 2004: The suicide car bombing in Baghdad that killed 35 civilians, and wounded 145.
- September 14, 2004: Car bomb killed 47 and injured nearly 100 more civilians and police recruits on Haifa Street in Baghdad.
- September 30, 2004: Baghdad bombing which killed 41 people, mostly children.
- December 3, 2004: Failed attempt to blow up an Iraqi–Jordanian border crossing, for which al-Zarqawi and two of his associates were sentenced to death in absentia by a Jordanian court in 2006
JTJ claimed credit for a number of attacks targeting Coalition and Iraqi forces, including the October 2004 massacre of 49 unarmed Iraqi National Guard recruits, and humanitarian aid agency targets such as the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The group conducted numerous attacks against U.S. military personnel and Iraqi infrastructure throughout 2004, including suicide attacks inside the Green Zone perimeter in Baghdad.
- Nick Berg, American civilian beheaded on May 7, 2004
- Murat Yuce, Turkish civilian shot dead on August 2, 2004
- Kim Sun-il, South Korean civilian executed on June 22, 2004
- Georgi Lazov and Ivaylo Kepov, Bulgarian civilians beheaded on July 8, 2004.
- Durmus Kumdereli, Turkish civilian beheaded on September 13, 2004.
- Eugene Armstrong, American civilian beheaded on September 20, 2004
- Jack Hensley, American civilian beheaded on September 21, 2004
- Kenneth Bigley, British civilian beheaded on October 7, 2004
The group officially pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network in a letter in October 2004 and changed its official name to Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn (تنظيم قاعدة الجهاد في بلاد الرافدين, "Organization of Jihad's Base in Mesopotamia"). That same month, the group, now popularly referred to as Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), kidnapped and killed Japanese citizen Shosei Koda. In November, al-Zarqawi's network was the main target of the US Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, but its leadership managed to escape the American siege and subsequent storming of the city.
The Lebanese-Palestinian militant group Fatah al-Islam, which was defeated by Lebanese government forces during the 2007 Lebanon conflict, was linked to AQI and led by al-Zarqawi's former companion who had fought alongside him in Iraq. The group may have been linked to the little-known group called "Tawhid and Jihad in Syria", and may have influenced the Palestinian resistance group in Gaza called Tawhid and Jihad Brigades.
- Abu Ayyub al-Masri
- Abu Omar al-Kurdi
- Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant
- Terrorism in Iraq
- Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda
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