Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition

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Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition
التحالف الإسلامي العسكري لمحاربة الإرهاب
IMCTC logo 2017.png
Current logo of the IMCTC
Islamic Military Alliance.svg
  Founding members
  Additional members
  Former members
FormationDecember 15, 2015; 6 years ago (2015-12-15)
TypeMilitary alliance
Legal statusActive
HeadquartersRiyadh, Saudi Arabia
Muslim world
Official language
Arabic, English, French
Secretary-General of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition
Major General Mohammed bin Saeed Al-Moghedi
Military-Commander in the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition
Raheel Sharif (Pakistan)[1]

The Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC; Arabic: التحالف الإسلامي العسكري لمحاربة الإرهاب) is an intergovernmental counter-terrorist alliance of countries in the Muslim world, united around military intervention against ISIL and other counter-terrorist activities.[2][3] Its creation was first announced by Saudi Arabian defence minister Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, on 15 December 2015.[4][5] The alliance was to have a joint operations center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.[6]

When the coalition was announced there were 34 members. Additional countries joined and the number of members reached 41 when Oman joined in December 2016.[7] On 6 January 2017, the Pakistani former chief of Army Staff, General (retd.) Raheel Sharif was named the IMCTC's first commander-in-chief.[8][9] Most of its participants are members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

History and objectives[edit]

IMCTC has stated that its primary objective is to protect Muslim countries from all terrorist groups and terrorist organizations irrespective of their sect and name.[10][11][12] The IMCTC affirmed that it would operate in line with the United Nations and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) provisions on terrorism.[13]

At the press conference to launch the IMCTC, Mohammad bin Salman said it would "coordinate" efforts to fight terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan. He said, "There will be international coordination with major powers and international organisations ... in terms of operations in Syria and Iraq."[14]

To date, all members are countries with Sunni-dominated governments. The alliance does not include any countries with Shia-dominated governments, such as Iran, Iraq and Syria.[15] According to a Euronews report, some analysts see formation of the alliance as part of Saudi Arabian efforts to take the leading role in the Middle East and the Muslim world, in rivalry with Iran.[16]

In March 2016 it was reported that Saudi Arabia had asked General Raheel Sharif, Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, to become commander-in-chief of the Islamic Military Alliance once he had retired from the Pakistan Army at the end of 2016.[17]


Saudi Arabia's original announcement of the alliance on 15 December 2015 listed 34 countries as participants,[2] each also a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and forming about 60% of all OIC member states. As of November 2017, there are 41 member countries.[18]

Country Membership announcement Military roleα Supporter References
 Bahrain Original Yes Yes [19]
 Bangladesh Original Yes Yes [6][20][21]
 Benin Original N/A N/A
 Burkina Faso
 Chad Original Yes Yes
 Comoros Original N/A N/A
 Cote d'Ivoire Original N/A N/A
 Djibouti Original N/A N/A
 Egypt Original Yes Yes [6]
 Gabon Original N/A N/A
 Guinea Original N/A N/A
 Jordan Original Yes Yes [6]
 Kuwait Original Yes Yes
 Lebanon Original N/A Yes
 Libya Original Yes Yes [22]
 Malaysia Original Yes Yes [23]
 Maldives Original Yes Yes
 Mali Original N/A N/A
 Mauritania Original Yes Yes
 Morocco Original Yes Yes
 Niger Original Yes Yes
 Nigeria Original Yes Yes [22]
 Oman 28 December 2016 Yes Yes [7][24]
 Pakistan Original Yes Yes [25][26][27]
 Palestine Original N/A N/A
 Qatar Original N/A N/A
 Saudi Arabia Original Yes Yes [28][29][14]
 Senegal Original Yes N/A
 Sierra Leone Original N/A N/A
 Somalia Original Yes Yes
 Sudan Original Yes Yes
 Togo Original N/A N/A
 Tunisia Original Yes Yes
 Turkey Original Yes Yes [22]
 Uganda [30]
 United Arab Emirates Original Yes Yes [31]
 Yemen (Hadi government) Original Yes Yes
These countries have offered to provide military assistance if needed.

Prospective additional members[edit]

At the time of the original announcement, more than ten other Islamic countries, including Indonesia (the world's largest Muslim populated nation), had expressed their support for the alliance,[2] and Azerbaijan was discussing joining the alliance.[32][33][34] In 2018, however, former deputy defense minister Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin [id] remarked that Indonesia's non-alignment barred the country from joining a military alliance, adding that Vice President Jusuf Kalla had disagreed with Indonesia's accession.[35]

By January 2017, Azerbaijan said that joining was "not on the agenda".[36] Tajikistan's ambassador to Saudi Arabia confirmed that Tajikistan was seriously studying the possibility of joining.[37][38]


Force commander Nationality Start of tenure End of tenure
General Raheel Shareef Raheel Sharif at the Global Security Dinner Davos (RS394598) (BBA5350) (cropped).jpg  Pakistan 6 January 2017 Incumbent [39][40]


  •  Bangladesh: Bangladesh was one of the early members to join the alliance doing so on 15 December 2015. The country confirmed its membership in a joint statement by the founder nations that stated "a duty to protect the Islamic nation from the evils of all terrorist groups and organizations whatever their sect and name which wreak death and corruption on earth and aim to terrorize the innocent."[41][42][43] However Bangladesh ruled out any military support.[44]
  •  China: China has expressed its willingness to cooperate with the alliance to fighting terrorism and appreciated Saudi efforts to create alliance.[45]
  •  Germany: Germany's defense minister Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the alliance against terrorism but also stressed that it should be a part of the Vienna process involving all countries fighting against IS like the U.S., Europe, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, but also including Iran and China.[47]
  •  Pakistan: After initial ambiguity Pakistan welcomed the initiative; its government confirmed its participation and stated that the country is waiting for further details in order to decide the extent of its participation in the different activities of the alliance. Although the Commander in Chief of the IMCTC, Gen Raheel Sharif only agreed to command upon the condition that Iran must be the part of this Alliance.[26][citation needed]
  •  Turkey: Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu called it the "best response to those who are trying to associate terror and Islam".
  •  United States: The new alliance has been welcomed by the United States, with then U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter saying, "We look forward to learning more about what Saudi Arabia has in mind in terms of this coalition. But in general it appears it is very much in line with something we've been urging for quite some time, which is greater involvement in the campaign to combat ISIL by Sunni Arab countries.[5][14]
  • Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order: Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri the leader of the Naqshbandi Army released a statement in 2016 praising the alliance and calling on what he called Mujahideen to fight Shia militias in Iraq backed by Iran, while also saying "We consider everything that is happening in Iraq from Iran, its agents, militias, and its security apparatus, is the responsibility of the United States". He added: "If it [U.S.] did not move to save Iraq and its people from Iran's hegemony, control and occupation, and to stop bloodshed, destruction, burning and the changing demographic, then Iraqi people should resist [the occupation]."[48]


Due to the dominance of the alliance by states having majority Sunni Muslim populations, it has been called "a sectarian coalition" by Hakeem Azameli, a member of the Security and Defense Commission in the Iraqi parliament.[22][16][15]

However, Oman, an Ibadi-dominant country has joined the alliance. Lebanon has also supported the alliance.[49] Other countries who are part of the alliance or support it that have cordial or friendly relations with Iran include Bangladesh, Kuwait, Libya, and Pakistan.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Military Commander". Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Joint statement on formation of Islamic military alliance to fight terrorism". Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 15 December 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  3. ^ "Islamic military coalition holds first meeting in Riyadh". Gulf News. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  4. ^ "Saudi Arabia Unveils 34-Country 'Islamic Military Alliance'". NBC News. Retrieved 2015-12-15.
  5. ^ a b DeYoung, Karen (2015-12-15). "Saudi Arabia launches 'Islamic military alliance' to combat terrorism". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2015-12-16.
  6. ^ a b c d Oliver Miles (16 December 2015). "Is Saudi Arabia's anti-terrorist alliance real?". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  7. ^ a b Cafiero, Giorgio (5 January 2017). "Why did Oman join Saudi Arabia's anti-terrorism alliance?". Al Monitor. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  8. ^ "Defence minister confirms Raheel Sharif's appointment to Islamic military alliance".
  9. ^ PTI. "Pak's Raheel Sharif appointed chief of Saudi-led military coalition". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  10. ^ "UAE joins Muslim military alliance to fight terrorism". 7DAYS UAE. Archived from the original on 2015-12-22. Retrieved 2015-12-20.
  11. ^ "Turkey joins Saudi-led Islamic military alliance against terrorism". TodaysZaman. Archived from the original on 2015-12-19. Retrieved 2015-12-20.
  12. ^ "UAE joins 34-nation anti-terrorist military coalition | The National". Retrieved 2015-12-20.
  13. ^ "Islamic military alliance". Aaj News. Retrieved 2015-12-22.
  14. ^ a b c "Saudi Arabia announces 34-state Islamic military alliance against terrorism". Reuters. 2015-12-15. Retrieved 2015-12-15.
  15. ^ a b "Turkey joins Sunni 'anti-terrorist' military coalition". Agence France-Presse. 15 December 2015. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  16. ^ a b Serguei Doubine; Behnam Masoumi; Riad Muasses; Rita Del Prete (15 December 2015). "What do Russia and Iran think about Saudi Arabia's coalition initiative?". euronews. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  17. ^ Zain, Ali (10 March 2016). "Saudi Arabia 'wants' Gen Raheel Sharif to command 34-nation Saudi alliance". Daily Pakistan. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  18. ^ "Home". Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  19. ^ Habib Toumi (16 December 2015). "Bahrain hails new Islamic military alliance". Gulf News. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  20. ^ "Bangladesh in 34-state Islamic military alliance". Reuters Dubai. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  21. ^ "Saudi-based 'Islamic military alliance' formed to fight terror". New York Post. Associated Press. 15 December 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  22. ^ a b c d Kayode Sesan (16 December 2015). "Turkey Confirms Membership of Sunni 'Islamic Military Alliance', Nigeria, Libya Also Members". SIGNAL. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  23. ^ a b "Malaysia's Role in Saudi Arabia's Islamic Military Alliance". 2017-03-13. Retrieved 2017-04-09.
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  25. ^ Baqir Sajjad Syed (2015-12-16). "Pakistan surprised by its inclusion in 34-nation military alliance". DAWN. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  26. ^ a b Baqir Sajjad Syed (2015-12-16). "Pakistan confirms participation in Saudi-led anti-terror alliance". DAWN. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  27. ^ Bokhari, Farhan (2016-03-09). "Pakistan's Sharif visits Saudi Arabia amid debate over military ties". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
  28. ^ "Saudi Arabia forms Muslim 'anti-terrorism' coalition". Retrieved 2015-12-16.
  29. ^ "Saudis announce Islamic anti-terrorism coalition - BBC News". BBC News. 15 December 2015. Retrieved 2015-12-15.
  30. ^ "MEMBER COUNTRIES".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  31. ^ "MEMBER COUNTRIES".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  32. ^ Wam (16 December 2015). "34-nation alliance to fight terrorism". Emirates 24/7. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  33. ^ Marguerite Afra Sapiie (2015-12-16). "Indonesia yet to decide on Saudi-led military coalition". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 2015-12-19.
  34. ^ Sara Rajabova (2015-12-15). "Baku considers joining Riyadh-based coalition to fight terrorism". AzerNews. Archived from the original on 2015-12-18. Retrieved 2015-12-19.
  35. ^ "Indonesia to not join IMCTC but shares similar spirit". Antara News. 19 December 2018. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  36. ^ "Azerbaijan says joining Islamic Military Alliance not on its foreign policy agenda". Azeri-Press Agency. 9 January 2017. Archived from the original on 12 March 2017. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
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  40. ^ Salman Masood and Ben Hubbard (2 April 2017). "Pakistan Approves Military Hero to Head Tricky Saudi-Led Alliance: Report". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-04-09.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
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  48. ^ "Saddam's top aide appears, criticizes US on Iran". 7 April 2016.
  49. ^ "Islamic anti-terror coalition chief receives Lebanese Army commander". Arab News. 2019-06-19. Retrieved 2019-09-10.

External links[edit]