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Ansar al-Sunnah or Jamaat Ansar al-Sunnah or Group of the Followers of Sunnah (faith) (Arabic: جماعة أنصار السنه‎) , (formerly Jaish Ansar al-Sunna, or "Army of the Followers of the Sunna") is a militant salafi group in Iraq that is fighting the U.S.-led occupation and the elected government led by Nouri al-Maliki. The group is based in northern and central Iraq, and includes both Kurdish [1] and Arab Sunnis as well as foreign fighters. The group was founded in September 2003 as an umbrella organization for guerrillas, with former members of Ansar al-Islam a Kurdish Islamic organization based in the mountains near Halabja in northeastern Iraq before the U.S-led invasion, at its core. This date coincides with the first released message from the group stating their existence, on September 20. Their goal is to expel U.S. occupation forces from Iraq. The group's leader has been identified Abu Abdullah al-Hassan bin Mahmoud, who is believed to be the brother of a major Ansar al-Islam fighter, although his background is unclear.

Ansar al-Sunna is thought to have links with other Islamic organizations operating in Iraq including, the formerly Abu Musab al-Zarqawi backed, 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). Initially the United States and Iraqi Interim governments reportedly linked Ansar al-Sunna to al-Qaeda. However a letter[1][2] intercepted by the American military in January 2007 exposes violent conflict between the two groups.

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 Mohammad's Army and 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 have a strong presence in those cities).

On October 10, 2005, Britain's Home Office banned Ansar al-Sunna and fourteen other militant groups from operating in the United Kingdom. Under Britain's Terrorism Act 2000, being a member of a Ansar al-Sunna is punished by a 10-year prison term. On 23 August 2006 its leader was captured.[3]

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[4]. The new alliance is composed of seven groupings explicitly excluding al-Qaeda and the Baath-party. This delimitation reveals a growing split between al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sunna over tactics, alleged attacks on Iraqi shia civilians being a main point of difference.

The same year Ansar al-Sunnah formally ackowledged the organizations origins in the Ansar al-islam, and changed their name to this.[5]

Contents

Suicide bombings

Jaish Ansar al-Sunna has 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 has produced tapes and CDs that mark the "last testaments" of six bombers from previous attacks, three of whom appear 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 detail the insurgency's plan for seizing Iraqi cities following the departure of coalition forces.

It also has a strong presence in Mosul were 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 Omar al-Museli.

Militant actions

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 several of the videos one of the members referred to as "The Emir" is heard warning Iraqis not to deal with US forces. The voice threatens to kill and send to Hell all who disobey. To date, the speaker has not been identified. Ansar al-Sunna is 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. [2]

These are some of the attacks which they have claimed to have carried out:

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2003

October

November

  • 20th - A car bomb attack on the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan headquarters in Kirkuk which killed six.
  • 29th - An Ambush against two vehicles, killing 7 Spanish Intelligence officers. The militants directly credit the Hamzah Sariyah Squadron of the al-Mansurah brigade, and say they retrieved 3 automatic weapons and a videocamera from the wreckage of the vehicles.

December

  • 12th - A car bombing outside a US Military installation in Ramadi which killed 1 American Soldier

2004

January

  • 31st - The bombing of the al-Taqafah police center in Mosul, killing nine.

February

  • 1st - parallel suicidebombings of Id-celebrations arranged by main kurdish partiesKDP and PUK in Arbil. 109 dead.
  • 23rd - Bombing the Rahimawa police station in Kirkuk, killing 13.

March

  • 9th - Launched Katyusha rockets at the Kirkuk airport.
  • 28th - Claimed to have killed 8 Intelligence officers from Britain and Canada, though neither country recognized this claim as valid. Al-Sunna then later showed the identity cards of the victims on a videorecording, which was met by silence from both countries.

August

  • 25th - Released a videotape of the beheading of a second alleged CIA agent
  • 31st - Released the execution of 12 Nepalese hostages videotape who had come to work for contractors in Iraq after the war; one was beheaded, the remaining eleven were shot in the back of the head. After the execution, the Nepalese burnt the mosque in Kathmandu to protest the killing.

September

  • 16th - Claimed to have killed three Iraqis

October

  • 2nd - Released a videotape of the beheading of an Iraqi named Barie Nafi'a Daoud Ibrahim, accused of collaboration with the enemy.
  • 22nd - Released a videotape of the beheading of an Iraqi named Seif Adnan Kanaan, accused of collaboration with the enemy.
  • 28th - Released a videotape of the killing of 11 captured members of the Iraqi National Guard; one was beheaded, the remaining ten were shot in the back of the head.

November

  • 4th - Released a videotape of the beheading of a captured officer of the new Iraqi Army working in tandem with the US Army, Hussein Shunun. Shunun had been captured by the group in Mosul a few days earlier

December

  • 21st - Suicide bomber dressed as an Iraqi soldier detonates in the mess hall of US camp Marez in Mosul while dozens of soldiers were dining. The death toll was 24 including, 14 American soldiers, 5 American contractors, and 5 Iraqi soldiers. Ansar al-sunna claimed the bomber was a local man from Mosul and had been working in the base for some time.

2005

May

  • 9th - They announced the kidnapping of a Japanese man, Akihiko Saito, who was working for British Security Contractor Hart GMSSCO. The militants reported that he had been injured in a fierce gunbattle near the Iraq-Syrian Border, but did not initially offer photos or video of him until doubts surfaced, then released a video of his corpse. The militants claimed that he died of his wounds.

August

  • 5th - They claim to have killed eight US Marines in a shoot-out in Haditha, though the US claims the number is only six.

2006

June

  • 18th - Ansar al-Sunna announced it had executed several "homosexual transvestites" who they claimed were "not in accordance with the prophet Muhammad's teachings". The bodies were found decapitated days later in the Tigris river.[citation needed]

2007

September

  • 18th - Ansar al-Sunna kills two Islamic men who are accused of apostasy for working with the Iraqi government. The released video [6] shows one badly beaten man confessing, and another singing a nasheed, an Islamic hymn, before both are shot in the back of the head.[7]

2010

March

  • 18th - A Gaza based faction of the group claimed responsibility in a rocket attack from Gaza that landed in Israel, killing a Thai worker. The attack was said to be in response for the "Judaization" of sites both holy to Jews and Muslims. [8]

References

  1. ^ overview of letter from Ansar al-Sunna to Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, Combating Terrorism Center, United States Military Academy
  2. ^ text of that letter, Combating Terrorism Center, United States Military Academy
  3. ^ USA Today, September 23, 2006
  4. ^ "http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,2129675,00.html"
  5. ^ http://counterterrorismblog.org/2007/12/ansar_alsunnah_acknowledges_re.php
  6. ^ Breitbart.tv » WARNING: Graphic Video Shows Execution of Iraqi Government ‘Apostates’
  7. ^ The Jawa Report: Ansar al-Sunnah Murders Two Iraqis
  8. ^ http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=171296
  • MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base (2006) "Ansar al-Sunnah Army"
http://www.tkb.org/Group.jsp?groupID=3921

See also


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