Foreign Policy Blogs

New Iraqi Documents Show Increasing Rift Between Former al Qaeda Allies

The NEFA Foundation has posted some interesting documents highlighting the growing rift between the Ansar-al-Islam organization in Iraq. The group, formerly known as the Ansar al-Sunnah Army, has been ravaged by infighting between core members and a breakaway splinter organization 'the Shariah Committee of the Ansar al-Sunnah Army”.

Ansar-al-Islam (Partisans or Supporters of Islam) is a Kurdish, fundamentalist organization formed in the northern provinces of Iraq. As with similar groups in the region, they aim to topple the Iraqi administration and install a Muslim, Shariah-dominated state. While ties to al Qaeda are not concrete, there exists a wide network of financial and logistical support, going so far as to harbor al Qaeda leader al-Zarqawi in 2002 and 2003.

After increasing pressure from American and Iraqi security forces, the organization has begun to crack, with various members (numbering approx 300) struggling to take control. The recently released documents highlight this growing tension.

Here's the story: in July, the Ansar al-Islam released a document titled "The Book of Truth', accusing the renegade sect of conspiring with the Americans. In response, the "Shariah Committee' fired back with a 32-page document highlighting al-Qaeda related atrocities and the lack of condemnation from Ansar al-Islam. Highlights include (taken from NEMAFoundation):

“[our leaders] know much about you, and if they were to publicize it, it would be a major and shameful humiliation Isn't it rather hypocritical for you to flatter others and act courteously towards the killers responsible for murdering many of you out of fear of their power, while you simultaneously assault your brothers and lie to them Who killed your men in Al-Ramadi, in Al-Yusufiya, in Nineveh, and in various other areas more than two years ago, and yet you forgave them? Was it not you who used to say that the greatest action that Shaykh [Usama] Bin Laden could perform today would be to declare the disbanding of the Al-Qaida organization in Iraq, because it has fallen into disgrace and it has become a cover for anyone with twisted goals in order for them to achieve these goals through this infiltrated organization. The only treatment for its condition is to disband it You sent messengers to Afghanistan‚ among whom was Abu al-Darda'a, may Allah have mercy upon him, who was dispatched in order to explain to [Usama] Bin Laden and [Dr. Ayman] al-Zawahiri the massive corruption of Al-Qaida in Iraq. When Abu al-Darda'a returned, he indicated that a delegation would be sent by al-Zawahiri to Iraq in order to confirm whether these reports were true. Then you told us that Abu Musab [al-Zarqawi], may Allah have mercy upon him, was impeding the arrival of this delegation in order to prevent the truth from being revealed. It should be noted that the era of Abu Musab should be considered to be a golden era when compared to what happened afterwards."

This internal pressure is exactly what Coalition forces have hoped for. They know they have no definitive capability to eliminate the insurgency, but can minimize their effectiveness by diminishing local support.

Both Documents can be found here:

Ansar al-Islam's "Book of Truth':

Shiriah Committee of the Ansar al-Sunnah Army's "Book of Truth or an Imaginary Fantasy':



Josh Hammer

Josh Hammer is an International Relations theorist, with expertise in terrorist ideology, American foreign policy, and war / conflict resolution. He currently holds a Master's of Science degree in International Politics from the University of Edinburgh, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from the George Washington University. Josh's most recent work, his M.Sc. thesis, is a comparative analysis between Marxist / Leninist ideology and Osama bin Laden's global jihadi movement. He currently resides in New York.

Areas of Focus:
Terrorist Idealogy; American Foreign Policy; Conflict Resolution;


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