The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Ansar al-Islam

Ansar al-Islam (Arabic: انصار الاسلام, Supporters or Partisans of Islam) is an Islamist group, promoting a radical interpretation of Islam and holy war. At the beginning of the 2003 invasion of Iraq it controlled about a dozen villages and a range of peaks in northern Iraq on the Iranian border. It has been in conflict with other groups such as the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.



It was formed in December 2001 as a merger of Jund al-Islam (Soldiers of Islam), led by Abu Abdallah al-Shafi'i , and a splinter group from the Islamic Movement in Kurdistan led by Mullah Krekar. Krekar is alleged to be the leader of Ansar al-Islam. He has lived in Norway, where he has refugee status, since 1991. On March 21, 2003 his arrest was ordered by ěkokrim, a Norwegian law enforcement agency, to ensure he did not leave the country while accusations that he had threatened terrorist attacks were investigated.

Ansar al-Islam has been accused by the United States of providing a safe haven to al-Qaeda associates, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. According to the US, they had established a camp for the production of poisons, including ricin. The US has also claimed that Ansar al-Islam has links with Saddam Hussein, thus claiming a link between Hussein and al-Qaeda. The claims were rejected by Krekar, and a presentation by Colin Powell to the UN on February 5, 2003 was met with widespread scepticism (see United Nations actions regarding Iraq).

Operations in Iraq

Ansar al-Islam (AI) has become known for its suicide attacks in Iraq following the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. When the US invaded, it attacked AI training camps in the north, and the organization's leaders retreated to neighboring countries. When the war in the north settled down, the militants returned to Iraq to fight against the occupying American forces.

AI is believed to be responsible for several suicide bomb attacks in Iraq, mostly in the north. The first such was at a checkpoint on February 26, 2003, before the war. Ansar then detonated a suicide car bomb in the north on March 22, 2003, killing several journalists. It then carried out several less dramatic attacks during the months following the war.

Some of the more "spectacular" operations include the September 9, 2003 attempted bombing of a Department of Defense office in Arbil, which killed 3; and the February 1, 2004 suicide bombings of two Kurdish party offices, which killed 109 and wounded more than 200. It has since carried out less dramatic attacks.


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Last updated: 05-07-2005 15:12:41
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04