Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (Arabic: جماعة ال&#توحيد والجهاد, Monotheism and Holy Struggle Movement) is the Islamist guerrilla network of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born Islamist militant believed operating against United States-led coalition forces in Iraq. The group's name, which is usually abbreviated as JTJ, purposefully contrasts the strict monotheism of Islam with the supposed "polytheism" of the Christian Trinity.
In October, 2004 the group changed its name to Al Qaeda in Iraq.
JTJ was started by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born Palestinian and veteran of the Soviet-Afghan War, during the late 1990s at an Islamic militant training camp near Herat in Afghanistan. Zarqawi started the network originally with a focus on overthrowing the Jordanian government, which he considered made up of "hypocrites" and un-Islamic. Zarqawi comes from a school of militant Sunni Islamist and Wahhabi thought, which advocates a return to the laws and practices of the Muslim community immediately following the death of the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century. JTJ likely had loose affiliation with al-Qaeda, but is a separate organization that is to a degree competitive. Eventually, Zarqawi developed a large number of contacts and affiliates in several countries. His network may have been involved in the late 1999 plot to bomb the Millennium celebrations in the U.S and Jordan. Following the U.S-led invasion of Afghanistan, it is believed that Zarqawi moved westward into Iraq, where he may have received medical treatment in Baghdad for an injured leg. It is believed that he developed extensive ties in Iraq with Ansar al-Islam, a Kurdish Islamist militant group that was based in the extreme northeast of the country. Following the U.S-led invasion of Iraq, JTJ was developed as an insurgent network composed of foreign fighters, remnants of Ansar al-Islam, and indigenous Sunni extremists to resist the coalition occupation forces and their Iraqi allies. The group's spiritual advisor is Abu Anas al-Shami.
The goals of Zarqawi's network have shifted considerably over the years. Originally with a localized goal of overthrowing the Jordanian government, the organization gradually became more globalized and, following the fall of Baghdad to American forces, Iraq clearly became the main focus. The stated goals of JTJ are to force a withdrawal of U.S-led forces from Iraq, topple the Iraqi interim government and assassinate collaborators with the "occupation," marginalize the Shiite Muslim population and defeat its militias, and to subsequently establish a pure Islamic state. Presumably, if and when those goals are achieved, the global jihad would continue to establish a pan-Islamic state and remove Western influence from the Muslim world.
JTJ differs from other Iraqi insurgent groups considerably in its tactics. Rather than just using conventional weapons and guerilla tactics, it has relied heavily on suicide bombings, mostly with vehicles, targeting a wide variety of groups but most especially Iraqi security forces and those facilitating the occupation. U.S and coalition forces, the United Nations, foreign civilians, humanitarian organizations, Shiite and Kurdish political and religious figures, Iraqi police and security forces, and Iraqi interim officials have also been targeted. Zarqawi's guerrillas have been known to use a wide variety of other tactics, however, including targeted assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings, the planting of improvised explosive devices, mortar attacks, and in beginning in a late June offensive urban guerilla-style attacks using rocket-propelled grenades and small arms.
For months, it appeared as though two separate wars were being conducted in Iraq. One was a terrorist campaign, largely conducted by foreign jihadis, of high-profile suicide bombings, assassinations, and kidnappings. The other was a guerilla war being conducted by nationalists, indigenous Sunni Islamists, and disenfranchised former Ba'ath Party members against American troops. Recently, as Zarqawi's network has taken root and grown in Iraq and as the insurgents have become more radicalized and religiously motivated, the distinction between the two has reduced. The June 24 offensive, which combined terrorist, guerrilla, and conventional tactics and in which a number of groups operating under the Zarqawi umbrella participated, was the clearest indication of this shift. Guerrillas with this group also have been known to operate with other insurgents in Samarra, where they openly patrolled, enforcing Sharia law and distributing audiotapes of the Qur'an before a U.S-led offensive on the city in the beginning of October.
List of attacks
The following is a list of some of the attacks believed to have been perpetrated by Zarqawi's network (some info from the Associated Press):
- Aug. 7, 2003: A truck bombing of the Jordanian embassy, which killed 19.
- Oct. 27, 2003: Four car bombings at Baghdad police stations and the Red Cross headquarters killed 35 and wounded 220.
- Nov. 12, 2003: A suicide truck bombing at the headquarters of Italy's paramilitary police in Nasiriyah that killed more than 30.
- Dec. 27, 2003: An attack on coalition bases and governor's office in Karbala that killed 19.
- Jan. 18, 2003: A car bombing at the gates of the Green Zone which killed 31.
- Jan 28: A car bombing in front of Baghdad's Shaheen Hotel that killed at least four people.
- Feb. 10 & 11: Two car bombs at a police station and recruiting center kill 100.
- Feb. 18: A truck bombing outside a Polish-run base in al-Hillah that killed at least 10 people.
- March 17: A car bomb detonates outside Baghdad's Mount Lebanon hotel, killing seven people. On April 6, a Web site linked to Kurdish group Ansar al-Islam carries audiotape from speaker who identified himself as al-Zarqawi and claimed responsibility for the bombing.
- April 24: Suicide bombers in boats ram oil pumping stations in the Gulf. Three U.S. service people are killed in the attack, which cost Iraq some $40 million in lost revenues. Al-Zarqawi's group claims responsibility for the attack.
- May 2: The group claims responsibility for a mortar attack that killed six marines in the Ramadi area.
- May 6: A suicide bomber detonates his car at the edge of the heavily guarded Green Zone that houses the U.S. headquarters. The blast kills five Iraqi civilians and a U.S. soldier.
- May 11: Kidnapped American businessman Nicholas Berg is beheaded while videotaped, and voice of knife-wielder is identified as al-Zarqawi's.
- May 18: A car bomb assassinates Iraqi Governing Council president Abdel-Zahraa Othman , better known as Izzadine Saleem.
- May 22: A suicide car bomb wounds Iraqi Deputy Interior Minister Abdul-Jabbar Youssef and kills at least four others.
- June 5: An ambush along the Baghdad airport road kills two Americans and two Poles working for Blackwater USA, a security company.
- June 6: Twin car bombings kill nine outside a former Iraqi air force base used by the U.S. Army just north of Baghdad. A Web site posting allegedly from Al-Zarqawi's group claims responsibility.
- June 14: A car-bomb attack on a vehicle convoy in Baghdad kills 13 people, including three General Electric employees. A Web site posting purportedly written by the "military wing of Monotheism and Jihad," also believed to be led by al-Zarqawi, claims responsibility.
- June 22: Kidnappers behead South Korean hostage Kim Sun-il, who was last shown alive with his captors in a videotape on Arab satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera. Al-Jazeera says the execution was carried out by Monotheism and Jihad, a group believed to be led by al-Zarqawi.
- June 24: Coordinated insurgent attacks on Iraqi police and government buildings in Mosul, Baquba, Ramadi, Fallujah, and Baghdad kill roughly 100 people, including 3 U.S soldiers, and wound several hundred more. JTJ is suspected of playing a major role, and many guerillas participating in the attacks wore headbands with the group's name.
- July 8: Militants linked with Zarqawi decapitated Georgi Lazov , 30, and Ivaylo Kepov , 32, Bulgarian truck drivers.
- September 16: Americans Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong and Briton Kenneth Bigley were kidnapped from their Baghdad home. The JTJ threatened to behead them in 48 hours unless Iraqi women are released from Umm Qasr and Abu Ghraib prisons. On September 20, the group published a video showing the decapitation of Eugene Armstrong. U.S. Officials say that his body has been found and identified. On September 21, Hensley is beheaded as well.
- October 8: Kenneth Bigley is beheaded.
- October 15: Bombers in the Green Zone kill six people, including 4 American civilians, in the first serious penetration of that area.
U.S Campaign against Zarqawi's Forces
The American effort against Zarqawi's network remained largely stagnant due to a lack of credible intelligence. Protecting "soft targets" against bombings conducted by an elusive force is a nearly impossible task. In late June, U.S. forces began a campaign of missile strikes against suspected JTJ safehouses in Fallujah, a stronghold of insurgents and radical clerics and the supposed focus of Zarqawi's network. In April 2004, U.S. Marines invaded Fallujah killing several hundred militiamen and civilian residents of the city before withdrawing. Between June 18 and June 25, over 60 people were killed in three separate air raids conducted by the U.S military in Fallujah. Civilians and officials in Fallujah charged that civilian targets were hit. Zarqawi himself was said to have narrowly escaped the June 25th attack, although there have been conflicting reports as to whether he is within Fallujah. Iraqi civilians, militiamen, policemen, and members of the Iraqi and U.S. military have suffered several hundred deaths and injuries in subsequent months during a an escalating series of duels between anti-occupation militants employing car bombs and U.S. forces employing airstrikes. The Euphrates River region between Baghdad and Ramadi is the focus of the search for Zarqawi and his followers.
On October 15, 2004, the U.S. State Department announced its designation of JTJ as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224. Press release http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2004/37130.htm .
- The World's Most Dangerous Terrorist http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5280219/site/newsweek/
- Purported Zarqawi letter released by the Coalition Provisional Authority http://www.cpa-iraq.org/transcripts/20040212_zarqawi_full.html
- JTJ reportedly pledges allegiance to bin Laden http://www.dawn.com/2004/10/18/top7.htm
Last updated: 02-19-2005 00:14:05
Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55