Islamic Army in Iraq

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Islamic Army in Iraq
الجيش الإسلامي في العراق
LeadersIshmael Jubouri,
Muhammad Abid Luhaibi
Dates of operation2003–2011, 2014-present
HeadquartersSunni Triangle
Active regionsIraq
IdeologySunni Islamism
Iraqi nationalism
Size10,400 (2007)[1]
Allies Iraqi Ba'ath Party
Hamas of Iraq (sometimes)
1920 Revolution Brigade
Jaysh al-Mujahideen
Ansar al-Sunnah
Free Syrian Army
Opponents Iraq
 United States
 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Battles and warsIraq War
Iraqi insurgency (2011–2013)
FlagFlag of Islamic Army In Iraq.svg

The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI) (Arabic: الجيش الإسلامي في العراق al jaysh al islāmi fī'l-`irāq) is one of a number of underground Islamist militant (or mujahideen) organizations formed in Iraq following the 2003 invasion of Iraq by U.S.-led Coalition forces, and the subsequent collapse of the Ba'athist regime headed by Saddam Hussein.

Although it carries an Islamic title, the group combines Sunni Islamism with Iraqi nationalism, and has been labelled as "resistance" by Iraq's Sunni Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi (sentenced to death in 2012) despite Tariq al-Hashemi's close relations with the U.S. government.

Following the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq in late 2011, the IAI demobilized and turned towards political activism, setting up the Sunni Popular Movement.[2] The groups turn away from armed opposition towards activism was criticised by other militant groups, including groups that the IAI had previously allied with such as the Mujahideen Army.[2]

Since the beginning of 2014, however, the group has been active in the ongoing anti-government violence in Anbar and Northern Iraq. The group is primarily active in the Diyala and Saladin Governorates.[2] Most of its fighters have renounced fighting against the Iraqi state although some have joined ISIS.

Roots and ideology[edit]

The precise details about the emergence of the IAI are unclear, although it is generally assumed that the group was established in the late summer of 2003 to fight US-led coalition forces.[3] Men from Sunni strongholds such as Ramadi, Fallujah and Baqubah who were skilled soldiers from the elite Republican Guard, Fedayeen Saddam, Special Republican Guard and the Iraqi Intelligence Service formed and joined the Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI).[4]

When the IAI first formed, it used kidnapping as a means of pursuing its goals. The group also threatened to target the January 2005 elections, although it didn't carry out any such attack. Unlike most terrorist organizations today, the IAI does not have Salafist tendencies,[dubious ] its primary focus and goal[citation needed] being the expulsion of foreign troops from Iraq. A November 2004 Washington Post interview with the group's leader, Ishmael Jubouri, stated that the IAI was predominantly composed of Iraqis (Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, and Arabs) trying to force foreign troops out of Iraq.[5] The Terrorism Monitor put out by The Jamestown Foundation confirms some of what Jubouri was claiming. In a March 2005 article, the monitor said the group was composed primarily of Sunnis with a small Shiite congregation and, in general, was "[an] inclusive Islamic organization with Iraqi nationalist tendencies."[3]

In a November 2006 Al Jazeera interview, spokesman Ibrahim al-Shamary expanded on who the IAI considers foreign troops, "There are two occupations in Iraq. Iran on one side through the militias which they control and through direct involvement with the national guard and the intelligence services, that causes the killing and destruction of the Sunnis. ... And then there is the American occupation which destroys the Iraqi people."[6]

The group has released several joint statements with other groups such as Islamic Resistance Movement and the Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance, which are known to be of an ikhwan background. In one of these joint statements, six groups (including the IAI) called for Iraqis to participate in the referendum on the October 2005 constitution by voting against it. (This was in conspicuous contrast to al-Qaeda in Iraq, which said that simply participating in voting is a compromise of the fundamentals of Islam, even if one were to vote against it.)

When rumours spread in Iraq of the alleged demolition of the al-Aqsa Mosque, in April 2005, the IAI announced the formation of the "al-Aqsa Support Division." This group was to support Palestine in the armed struggle against Israel. The current status of the al-Aqsa Support Division is unknown, leading people to believe that the statement was merely rhetoric.

The group has shown support for the Free Syrian Army and its fight against the Syrian government and allied Shiite paramilitary groups like Hezbollah, in June 2013 the Islamic Army in Iraq released a statement advising the FSA in methods in fighting.[7]

Foreign hostages[edit]

The group was responsible for the abduction of the following persons who were released unharmed:

  • Fereidoun Jahani, Iranian Consul.
  • Georges Malbrunot (41) and Christian Chesnot (37), French journalists.
  • Marwan Ibrahim al-Kassar and Mohammed Jawdat Hussein, Lebanese electrical workers.
  • Angelo dela Cruz, Filipino truck driver.
  • Rosidah Anom and Rafikan Binti Amin, female Indonesian nationals.

The IAI is believed responsible for the execution of the following foreigners:

  • Enzo Baldoni, Italian journalist killed on or about August 26, 2004.
  • Raja Azad (49), engineer, and Sajad Naeem (29), his driver, Pakistani nationals working in Iraq for a Kuwaiti-based firm killed on or about July 28, 2004.
  • Dalibor Lazarevski, Dragan Marković, and Zoran Naskovski, nationals of Republic of Macedonia, working for United Arab Emirates-based Soufan Engineering on contracts and subcontracts for the U.S. military and its private contractors. The three were seized in August 2004 and the Macedonian government confirmed their execution by October 21, 2004; receipt of videos depicting two beheadings were announced, but not broadcast, on al-Jazeera TV on October 17, 2004.
  • Ronald Schulz, American contract electrician, killed around December 8, 2005.

Other activities[edit]

The Islamic Army in Iraq claimed responsibility for the 1 September 2004, assassination attempt against Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, in which two of his bodyguards were killed, two were wounded and two went missing (the IAI admitted capturing one of Chalabi's bodyguards and executing the other), and Chalabi escaped unharmed.

On 22 April 2005, the IAI released a video of their members killing a Bulgarian civilian contractor, who survived after the downing of his helicopter. He was helped to his feet and then shot with 27 rounds of ammunition. The group also claims to have shot down a commercial airliner in Iraq, although officials maintain the accident was caused by fog. The crash killed 34 people.[citation needed]

In 2006, videos were released of their snipers killing coalition forces. The nom de guerre of the IAI sniper(s) is "Juba". These sniper videos were distributed for free to Iraqi citizens on CDs as part of a propaganda, recruiting campaign and as a means of waging psychological warfare on coalition forces.[8] Islamic Army videos of attacks on US-led coalition forces are aired on the al-Zawraa TV channel, which is banned in Iraq.

As of 2011 the group's content was distributed online by the Jihad Media Battalion (subtitled in English) and the Media Division of the Islamic Army in Iraq (subtitled in Arabic). These groups were considered distinct from al-Qaeda and the linked groups As-Sahab, Ansar Al-Mujahideen, and al-Fida Islamic Network and also distinct from GIMF, Islamic Media Center, and the media center of the Islamic Jihad Army.[9]

War with al-Qaeda in Iraq[edit]

In early 2007, the Islamic Army engaged in an armed conflict against Al-Qaeda in Iraq. In June, this ended in a ceasefire between the two rival groups. The IAI was quoted saying "The most important thing is that it's our common duty to fight the Americans;" nevertheless, the groups never adopted al-Qaeda's philosophy and refused to sign on to the al-Qaeda-led Islamic State of Iraq.[10]

According to Iraqi sources, fighters from the Islamic Army battled Al-Qaeda gunmen around Samarra at least twice in October and November 2007, a possible indication that the cease-fire brokered earlier this year had collapsed (however, coalition officials later issued a statement claiming that Iraqi policemen and coalition troops, not Islamic Army fighters, had carried out the latter operation).[11][12] Furthermore, although the Islamic Army denied that it had joined forces with the U.S. military, several news outlets reported that many Islamic Army commanders in and around Baghdad were now working together with the U.S.-led coalition to counter Al-Qaeda in Iraq.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Daniel Cassman. "Islamic Army in Iraq | Mapping Militant Organizations". Retrieved 2012-09-14.
  2. ^ a b c al-Tamimi, Aymenn Jawad (1 July 2014). "Iraq crisis: Key players in Sunni rebellion". BBC News.
  3. ^ a b [1] Archived March 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Nance, Malcolm (2014). The Terrorists of Iraq. CRC Press. pp. 193–194. ISBN 978-1498706896.
  5. ^ Spinner, Jackie (28 November 2004). "Marines Widen Their Net South of Baghdad". The Washington Post. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  6. ^ Hoda Abdel-Hamid. "Inside the Islamic Army of Iraq". Al Jazeera. Archived from the original on June 11, 2008. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  7. ^ "Comprehensive Reference Guide to Sunni Militant Groups in Iraq".
  8. ^ "- 無利息・即日振り込み・来店不要の会社". Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  9. ^ "Jihad propaganda: from words to war" (PDF). presentation at 32nd International Congress on Law and Mental Health. p. 8.
  10. ^ "A Truce Between U.S. Enemies in Iraq". Time. 6 June 2007. Archived from the original on June 9, 2007. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  11. ^ "Sunni group attacks al-Qaeda base". BBC News. 10 November 2007. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  12. ^ "Iraqi Police, Coalition Forces strike enemy west of Samarra". Multi-National Forces – Iraq. Archived from the original on February 8, 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  13. ^ [2] Archived November 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]