- Al-Qaeda in Iraq
Infobox War Faction
name=Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn
(Organization of Jihad's Base in Mesopotamia)
"Al-Qaeda in Iraq"
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi† Abu Hamza al-Muhajir( Abu Ayyub al-Masri)
Iraq, limited activity in the broader Middle East
strength=More than 1,000 in 2005" [http://www.globalsecurity.org/security/profiles/al-qaeda_in_iraq.htm Al-Qaeda in Iraq] ",
GlobalSecurity.org(U.S. State Department, 'Country Reports on Terrorism', 2005)]
partof=Ansar al-Sunna (since 2003)" [http://www.benpreven.com/article.php?article=24 Did America finance Al-Qaeda in Iraq?] ",
benpreven.com('Ben's World')] Al-Qaeda(since 2004) Mujahideen Shura Council(2006) Islamic State of Iraq(since 2006)
previous=Group of Monotheism and Jihad (2003-2004)
Multinational force in Iraq, Iraqi security forces, Iraqi awakening movements, Kurdish Party, Shia and some of the Sunni militias; United Nations
Egypt, Israel, Jordan
Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) is a group playing an active role in the
Iraqi insurgency. Initially led by the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawiuntil his death in 2006, it is now believed to be led by Abu Hamza al-Muhajir[" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5073092.stm Al-Qaeda in Iraq names new head] ", BBC News, 12 June 2006] (presumed to be the Egyptian Abu Ayyub al-MasriTran, Mark. " [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,2069653,00.html Al-Qaida in Iraq leader believed dead] ", " The Guardian", 1 May 2007] ).
The group is a direct successor of al-Zarqawi's previous organization, "
Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad" (Group of Monotheismand Jihad). Beginning with its official statement declaring allegianceto Osama bin Laden's al-Qaedaterrorist network in October 2004, the group identifies itself as "Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn" (QJBR) ("Organization of Jihad's Base in the Country of the Two Rivers"). [" [http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2005/64344.htm Middle East and North Africa Overview] ", " Country Reports on Terrorism", U.S. State Department, 28 April 2006]
AQI is one of
Iraq's most feared militant organisations and many experts regard it as the United States' most formidable enemy in the country. [" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4409332.stm Iraq offensive meets resistance] ", CNN, 5 November 2005] DeYoung, Karen/Pincus, Walter. " [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/17/AR2007031701373.html Al-Qaeda in Iraq May Not Be Threat Here] ", " The Washington Post", 18 March 2007] Others suggest that the threat posed by AQI is exaggerated and some scholars claim that a "heavy focus on al-Qaeda obscures a much more complicated situation on the ground." [ Associated Press. " [http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/06/09/africa/ME-GEN-Iraq-Enemy-No.-1.php In motley array of Iraqi foes, why does U.S. spotlight al-Qaida?] ", " International Herald Tribune", 8 June 2007] Clark Hoyt" [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/08/opinion/08pubed.html?_r=1&oref=login Seeing Al-Qaeda round every corner] ", " The New York Times, 8 June 2007]
Goals and umbrella organizations
In a July 2005 letter to
al-Qaedadeputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Zarqawi outlined a four-stage plan to expand the Iraq War, which included expelling U.S. forces from Iraq, establishing an Islamic authority ( caliphate), spreading the conflict to Iraq's secular neighbors and engaging in battle with Israel. Consistent with their stated plan, the affiliated groups were linked to regional attacks outside Iraq, such as the Sharm al-Sheikh bombings in Egypt.
In January 2006, AQI created an
umbrella organization, the Mujahideen Shura Council (MSC), in an attempt to unify Sunni insurgents in Iraq. However, its efforts to recruit Iraqi Sunni nationalists and secular groups were undermined by its violent tactics against civilians and its extreme Islamic fundamentalist [Muir, Jim. " [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6740683.stm US pits Iraqi Sunnis against al-Qaeda] ", BBC News, 11 June 2007] doctrine. Because of these impediments, the attempt was largely unsuccessful.
AQI used to claim its attacks under the MSC, until mid-October 2006 when
Abu Ayyub al-Masrideclared the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq(ISI), another front which included the Shura Council factions. The AQI now claims its attacks under the ISI," [http://www.nps.edu/Library/Research/SubjectGuides/SpecialTopics/TerroristProfile/Current/AlQaidaIraq.html Al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI)] ", Dudley Knox Library, Naval Postgraduate School.] and claims it's answering to the supreme emir(leader) of the organization, Abu Abdullah al-Rashid al-Baghdadi. According to a study compiled by US intelligence agencies, the ISI have plans to seize power and turn the country into a Sunni Islamic state. [" [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article1782088.ece Al-Qaeda planning militant Islamic state within Iraq] ", " The Times", 16 June 2007]
trength and activity
The group's strength is unknown, with estimates that have ranged from 850 to several thousand full-time fighters. [http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-saudi15jul15,0,3132262.story?coll=la-home-center "Saudis' role in Iraq insurgency outlined"] , "
Los Angeles Times", 15 July 2007] In 2006, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Researchestimated that AQI’s core membership was in a range of "more than 1,000." (These figures do not include the other six [ [http://www.adnkronos.com/AKI/English/Security/?id=1.0.2322183712 Iraq: Two leaders linked to al-Qaeda group arrested] ] AQI-led Salafi Jihadigroups organized in the Islamic State of Iraq.) The group is said to be suffering high manpower losses (including from its many "martyrdom" operations), but for a long time this appeared to have little effect on its strength and capabilities, implying a constant flow of volunteers from Iraq and abroad.
According to both the July 2007
National Intelligence Estimateand the Defense Intelligence Agencyreports AQI accounted for 15 percent of attacks in Iraq. However, the Congressional Research Servicenoted in its September 2007 report that attacks from al-Qaeda are less than two percent of the violence in Iraq and criticized the Bush administration’s statistics, noting that its false reporting of insurgency attacks as AQI attacks has increased since the "surge" operations began. [ [http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/crsiraq0907.pdf CRS Report To Congress: Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security] Congressional Research ServicePDF September 6, 2007] [http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2007/0710.tilghman.html The Myth of AQI] , " The Washington Monthly", August 2007] In March 2007, the U.S.-sponsored Radio Free Europe/Radio Libertyanalyzed al-Qaeda in Iraq attacks for that month and concluded Al-Qaeda in Iraq had taken credit for 43 out of 439 attacks on Iraqi security forces and Shiite militias, and 17 out of 357 attacks on U.S. troops. They seemed to favor suicide and improvised explosive device(IED) attacks, typically using cars and other motor vehicles.
According to a 2006 U.S. Government report, this group is most clearly associated with foreign terrorist cells operating in Iraq and has specifically targeted international forces and Iraqi citizens. According to the report, most of AQI's operatives were not Iraqi, but instead were coming through a series of safe houses, the largest of which is on the Iraq-
Syrian border. AQI's operations are predominately Iraq-based, but the United States Department of Statealleges that the group maintains an extensive logistical network throughout the Middle East, North Africa, Iran, South Asia, and Europe." [http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2005/65275.htm Foreign Terrorist Organizations] ", " Country Reports on Terrorism", U.S. State Department, 28 April 2006]
According to the June 2008
CNNspecial report, al-Qaeda in Iraq is "a well-oiled organization (...) almost as pedantically bureaucratic as was Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party", including collecting new execution videos long after they stopped publicising them, with a network of spies even in an American bases. According to the report, Iraqis (many of them former members of Hussein's secret services) now effectively run al-Qaeda in Iraq and "foreign fighters' roles seem mostly relegated to the cannon fodderof suicide attacks." The exception from this is the organization's top leadership, which is still dominated by non-Iraqis. [ [http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/06/11/al.qaeda.iraq/index.html?iref=topnews Papers give peek inside al Qaeda in Iraq] , CNN, June 11, 2008]
Rise and decline
The Abu Musab al-Zarqawi-led terrorist group
Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, which had already gained notoriety for a series of indiscriminate bombings and for graphic videos of hostageexecutions, officially pledged allegianceto Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network in a letter in October of 2004.cite news
title=Zarqawi pledges allegiance to Osama
October 18 2004
accessdate=2007-07-13] cite news
title=Al-Zarqawi group vows allegiance to bin Laden
October 18 2004
accessdate=2007-07-13] cite web
title=Zarqawi's pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda
Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi
October 18 2004
accessyear=2007] That same month, AQI kidnapped and
murdered the Japanese citizen Shosei Koda. In November, al-Zarqawi's network was the main target of the U.S. Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, but its leadership managed to escape the American siege and subsequent storming of the city. On December 19, al-Qaeda bombed a Shiite funeral procession in Najafand the main bus station in nearby Karbala, killing at least 60 in the Shiite holy cities in one of its many sectarian attacks. The group also reportedly took responsibility for a September 30 bombing directed at U.S. forces that killed 35 children and seven adults in Baghdad. [ Associated Press. " [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,198661,00.html Fast Facts: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi] ", FOX News, 8 June 2006]
In 2005, IQI largely focused on executing high-profile and coordinated
suicide attacks, claiming responsibility for numerous attacks which were primarily aimed at Iraqi civilians. The group launched attacks against voters during the Iraqi legislative election in January, a combined suicide and conventional attack on the Abu Ghraib prisonin April, and the coordinated suicide attacks outside the Sheraton Ishtarand Palestine Hotelin Baghdad in October. In July, Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and execution of Ihab Al-Sherif, Egypt's envoy to Iraq. [ Associated Press. " [http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/07/07/africa/web.0707egypt.php Al-Qaeda claims to have killed Egyptian envoy] ", International Herald Tribune, 7 July 200.] [Caroll, Rory/Borger, Julian. [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1523750,00.html Egyptian envoy to Iraq killed, says al-Qaida] , " The Guardian", 8 July 2005] A July 2005 three-day series of suicide attacks, including Musayyib marketplace bombing, left at least 150 people dead and more than 260 wounded. [Howard, Michael. " [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1530732,00.html Three days of suicide bombs leave 150 dead] ", " The Guardian", 18 July 2005] Al-Zarqawi also claimed responsibility for the September 14 series of more than a dozen bombings in Baghdad, including the massacre of mostly Shiite unemployed workers, which killed about 160 people and injured 570 in a single day, [ Associated Press. " [http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/09/15/africa/web.0915iraq.php Another wave of bombings hit Iraq] ", " International Herald Tribune", 15 September 2005] as well a series of mosque bombings which killed at least 74 people the same month in Khanaqin. [ [http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/09/16/news/iraq.php 20 die as insurgents in Iraq target Shiites] , " International Herald Tribune", 17 September 2005]
The attacks blamed on or claimed by al-Qaeda in Iraq kept increasing in 2006. In one of the incidents, two American soldiers (
Thomas Lowell Tuckerand Kristian Menchaca) were captured, tortured and beheaded by the ISI; in another, four Russian embassy officials were abducted and executed. Iraq's al-Qaeda and its umbrella groups were blamed for multiple attacks targeting Iraqi Shiites, some of which AQI claimed responsibility for. The U.S. also claimed the group was at least one of the forces behind the wave of chlorine bombings in Iraqwhich affected hundreds of people (albeit with few fatalities) through the series of crude chemical warfareattacks between late 2006 and mid-2007. [ [http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSPAR44485120070224 U.S. says Iraq chlorine bomb factory was al Qaeda's] "Reuters" February 24, 2007] During 2006, several key members of the AQI were killed or captured by American and allied forces, including al-Zarqawi himself, killed on June 7, 2006, his spiritual adviser Sheik Abd-Al-Rahman, and the alleged "number two" deputy leader Hamid Juma Faris Jouri al-Saeedi.
The high-profile attacks linked to the group continued through early 2007, as the AQI-led Islamic State claimed responsibility for attacks such as the March
assassinationattempt on Sunni Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq Salam al-Zaubai, the April Iraqi Parliament bombing, and the May capture and subsequent execution of three American soldiers. In May, ISI leader al-Baghdadi was declared to have been killed in Baghdad, but his death was later denied by the group (later, al-Baghdadi was declared by the U.S. to be non-existent). There were also conflicting reports regarding al-Masri. In March-August, coalition forces fought a major Battle of Baqubahas part of the largely successful attempts to wrest the Diyala Governoratefrom AQI-aligned forces. Through 2007, the majority of the suicide bombings targeting civilians in Iraq were routinely identified by the military and government sources as being the responsibility of al-Qaeda and its associated groups, even when there was no claim of responsibility (as was in the case of the 2007 Yazidi communities bombings, which killed some 800 and injured more than 1,500 people in the most deadly terrorist attack in Iraq to date).
By late 2007, violent and indiscriminate attacks directed by AQI against Iraqi civilians had severely damaged their image and caused the loss of support among the population, isolating the group. In a major blow to AQI, many former Sunni militants that previously fought along with the group started to work with the American forces (see also below). In addition, the U.S. troop surge supplied military planners with more manpower for operations targeting the group, resulting in dozens of high-level AQI members being captured or killed. [ [http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2007/11/targeting_al_qaeda_in_iraqs_ne.asp Targeting al Qaeda in Iraq's Network] , "
The Weekly Standard", 11/13/2007 ] Al-Qaeda seemed to have lost its foothold in Iraq and appeared to be severely crippled. [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/14/AR2007101401245.html Al-Qaeda In Iraq Reported Crippled; Many Officials, However, Warn Of Its Resilience] , "Washington Post", October 15, 2007] Accordingly, the bountyissued for al-Masri was eventually cut from $5 million down to a mere $100,000 in April 2008.
As of 2008, a series of U.S. and Iraqi offensives managed to drive out the AQI-aligned insurgents from their former safe havens such in Diyala (see
Diyala campaign) and Al AnbarGovernorates and the embattled capital of Baghdad to the area of the northern city of Mosul, the latest of the Iraq War's major battlegrounds. The struggle for control of Ninawa Governorate( Ninawa campaign) was launched in January 2008 by U.S. and Iraqi forces as part of the large-scale Operation Phantom Phoenixaimed at combating al-Qaeda activity in and around Mosul, as well as finishing off the network's remnants in central Iraq that escaped Operation Phantom Thunderin 2007.
Inciting sectarian violence through terrorism
Attacks against civilians often targeted the Iraqi
Shiamajority in an attempt to incite sectarian violenceand greater chaos in the country. [ [http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0320/p09s01-coop.html Al Qaeda's hand in tipping Iraq toward civil war] , " The Christian Science Monitor"/" Al-Quds Al-Arabi", March 20, 2006] Al-Zarqawi purportedly declared an all-out war on Shiites [ Associated Press. " [http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/09/15/africa/web.0915iraq.php Another wave of bombings hit Iraq] ", " International Herald Tribune", 15 September 2005.] while claiming responsibility for the Shiite mosque bombings. [Tavernise, Barbara (" The New York Times"). " [http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/09/16/news/iraq.php 20 die as insurgents in Iraq target Shiites] ", International Herald Tribune, 17 September 2005.] The same month, a statement claiming to be by AQI rejected as "fake" a letter allegedly written by al-Zawahiri, in which he appears to question the insurgents' tactics in attacking Shiites in Iraq. [" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4339912.stm Al-Qaeda disowns 'fake letter'] ", CNN, 13 October 2005.] In a December 2007 video, al-Zawahiri defended the Islamic State in Iraq, but distanced himself from the crimes against civilians committed by " hypocrites and traitors existing among the ranks". [ [http://www.adnkronos.com/AKI/English/Security/?id=1.0.1678520501 British 'fleeing' claims al-Qaeda] ]
U.S. and Iraqi officials accused AQI of trying to slide Iraq into a full-scale
civil warbetween Iraq's majority Shiites and minority Sunni Arabs with an orchestrated campaign of a civilian and a number of highly provocative attacks against high-profile religious targets." [http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200705/s1911670.htm Al Qaeda leader in Iraq 'killed by insurgents'] ", ABC News, 1 May 2007.] With attacks like the first al-Askari Mosque bombing in Samarra, the deadly one-day series of bombings which killed at least 215 people in Baghdad's Shiite district of Sadr City, and the second al-Askari bombing, they seemed to have succeeded in provoking Shiite militias to unleash a wave of retaliatory attacks, resulting in a plague of death squad-style killings and spiraling further sectarian violence which escalated in 2006 and early 2007.
Operations outside Iraq
AQI claimed an attempted chemical bomb plot in
Amman, Jordanin April 2004. [ [http://www.acsa.net/alzarqawi.htm MSNBC - Jordan militants confess to 'chemical' plot with help of Iraqi Al Qaeda Terror Czar - Al Zarqawi ] ] On December 3, 2004, AQI also attempted to blow up an Iraqi-Jordanian border crossing, but failed to do so (in 2006, a Jordanian court sentenced Zarqawi (" in absentia") and two of his associates to death for their involvement in the plot [Aloul, Sarah. " [http://beta.inquirer.net/common/print.php?index=1&story_id=60417&site_id=38 Zarqawi handed second death penalty in Jordan] ", " [http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/ Inquirer] ", 19 December 2005.] ). AQI also increased its presence outside Iraq by claiming credit for three attacks in 2005. In the most deadly attack, suicide bomb 2005 Amman bombingskilled 60 people in Amman, Jordan, on November 9 2005. [ Associated Press. " [http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/11/09/news/jordan.php Al Qaeda claims responsibility for Amman blasts] ", " International Herald Tribune", 10 November 2005.] They also claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks that narrowly missed the USS "Kearsarge" and the USS "Ashland" in Jordan and which also targeted Eilatin Israel, and the firing of several rockets into Israel from Lebanonin December. In addition, Lebanese-Palestinian militant group Fatah al-Islam, which was defeated by Lebanese government forces during the 2007 Lebanon conflict, was linked to AQI and led by Zarqawi's former companion who had fought in Iraq. [ Associated Press. " [http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/05/20/africa/ME-GEN-Lebanon-Violence-Militants.php Fatah Islam: Obscure group emerges as Lebanon's newest security threat] ", " International Herald Tribune", 20 May 2007.]
The group has long raised money through the various
organized crimeactivities like ransoming kidnappingvictims, car theft(sometimes killing drivers), counterfeiting, and hijackingfuel trucks that bring them tens of millions of dollars. According to an April 2007 statement by the rival insurgent faction, the group was demanding money in return for "protection", killing members of wealthy families when not paid. [http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2007/842/op6.htm On whose side is Al-Qaeda?] Lamis Andoni "Al-Ahram Weekly" April 26, 2007] According to both U.S. and Iraqi sources in May 2008, the Islamic State of Iraq was stepping up its racketeering campaigns as their strictly militant capabilities were on the wane (with especially lucrative activity said to be coming from oil rackets centered on the industrial city of Bayji). According to U.S. military intelligence sources, the group resembles a " Mafia-esque criminal gang." [http://www.newsweek.com/id/138085 Al Qaeda Nostra] , " Newsweek", May 21, 2008]
Conflicts with the other Sunni militant groups
The first reports of a split and even armed clashes between AQI/MSC and other insurgent
Sunnigroups date back to 2005. [" [http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,1601208,00.html We don't need al-Qaida] ", " The Guardian", 27 October 2005.] [Carroll, Rory/Mansour, Osama. " [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1564000,00.html Al-Qaida in Iraq seizes border town as it mobilises against poll] ", " The Guardian", 7 September 2005.] In the summer of 2006, local Sunni tribes and insurgent groups, including the prominent Islamist-nationalist group Islamic Army in Iraq(IAI), began to speak of their dissatisfaction with al-Qaeda and its tactics, [ Reuters. " [http://gulfnews.com/region/Iraq/10116557.html Rebels call on Al Qaida to 'review' behaviour] ", Gulf News, 4 July 2007.] and openly criticized the foreign fighters for their deliberate targeting of civilians. In September 2006, thirty Anbar tribes formed their own local alliancecalled the Anbar Salvation Council(ASC), directed specifically at countering al-Qaeda-allied ("terrorist") forces in the province, [" [http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20070503/wl_csm/oramadi_1 Yahoo News] ", retrieved 2007.] [Klein, Joe. " [http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1624697,00.html Is al-Qaeda on the Run in Iraq?] ", TIME, 23 May 2007.] [Beaumont, Peter. " [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1886076,00.html Iraqi tribes launch battle to drive al-Qaida out of troubled province] ", " The Guardian", 3 October 2006.] openly siding with the government and the U.S. troops. [ [http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=nation_world&id=5359370 ABC7 News] , KGO-TV, San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose.] [Burns, John F./Rubin, Melissa J. " [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/11/world/middleeast/11iraq.html?_r=1&n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fOrganizations%2fA%2fAl%20Qaeda%20in%20Mesopotamia&oref=slogin U.S. Arming Sunnis in Iraq to Battle Old Qaeda Allies] ", " The New York Times", 11 June 2007.]
By the beginning of 2007, Sunni tribes and nationalist insurgents had begun battling with their former allies in AQI in order to retake control of their communities. [ [http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1699187,00.html Exit Al-Qaeda. Enter the Militias?] , "
TIME, Jan. 01, 2008 By CHARLES CRAIN/BAGHDAD] In early 2007, forces allied to al-Qaeda in Iraq committed a series of attacks against Sunnis critical of the group, including the February 2007 attack in which scores of people were killed when a truck bomb exploded near a mosque in Fallujah. [" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6461757.stm Iraqis killed by chlorine bombs] ", BBC News, 17 March 2007.] Al-Qaeda also supposedly played a vital role in the assassination of the leader of the Anbar-based insurgent group 1920 Revolution Brigade(military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement). [ [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,261780,00.html Official Blames Al Qaeda in Iraq for Death of Key Sunni Insurgent Leader] , FOX News, March 27, 2007] In April 2007, the IAI spokesman accused the ISI of killing at least 30 members of the Islamic Army, as well as members of the Jamaat Ansar al-Sunnaand Mujahideen Armyinsurgent groups, and called on Osama bin Laden to personally intervene to rein in al-Qaeda in Iraq. [ Associated Press. " [http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/04/17/africa/ME-GEN-Iraq-Insurgent-Split.php Al-Qaida linked group moves to patch up rift among insurgent factions] ", " International Herald Tribune", 17 April 2007.] The following month, the government stated that AQI leader al-Masri was killed by ASC fighters. Four days later, AQI released an audio tape in which a man claiming to be al-Masri warned Sunnis not to take part in the political process (later in May the U.S. forces announced the release of dozens of Iraqis who were tortured by AQI as a part of the group's intimidationcampaign [" [http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/05/27/iraq.main/index.html U.S. frees 42 al Qaeda kidnap victims in Iraq] ", CNN, 27 May 2007] ), but also said that reports of internal fighting between Sunni militia groups were "lies and fabrications". [" [http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070505/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq Yahoo News] ", retrieved 2007.] Agencies. " [http://gulfnews.com/region/Iraq/10123106.html Tape from 'dead' Al Masri put on Web] ", Gulf News, 5 May 2007.]
By June 2007, the growing hostility between foreign-influenced religious extremists and Sunni nationalists led to open gun battles between the groups in Baghdad. [
Associated Press. " [http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/06/02/africa/ME-GEN-Iraq.php?page=1 Bombed bridge, Turkish troops trouble Kurdish Iraq from two sides] ", " International Herald Tribune", 1 June 2007.] Hurst, Steven R. " [http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-6675541,00.html Sunnis Revolt Against al-Qaida in Iraq] ", " The Guardian", 1 June 2007.] The Islamic Army, however, soon reached a ceasefireagreement with AQI (yet still refused to sign on to the ISI). [Ghosh, Bobby. " [http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1629871,00.html A Truce Between U.S. Enemies in Iraq] ", TIME, 6 June 2007.] There were also reports that Hamas of Iraqinsurgents were involved in assisting U.S. troops in their Diyala Governorate operations against al-Qaeda in August 2007. In September 2007, AQI claimed responsibility for the assassination of three people including Sunni sheikh Adbul-Sattar Abu Risha(leader of the Anbar "Awakening council"). That same month, a suicide attack on a mosque in the city of Baqubahkilled 28 people, including members of Hamas of Iraq and the 1920 Revolution Brigade, during a meeting at the mosque between tribal, police and guerilla leaders. [ [http://www.adnkronos.com/AKI/English/Security/?id=1.0.1345669885 Iraq: Leader of Hamas of Iraq and 1920 Brigades dead in mosque attack] "Adnkronos International"September 25, 2007] Meanwhile, the U.S. military began arming moderateinsurgent factions on the promise to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq instead of the Americans. [MacAskill, Ewen. [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,2100698,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=12 "US arms Sunni dissidents in risky bid to contain al-Qaida fighters in Iraq] ", " The Guardian", 12 June 2007.]
By December 2007, the strength of the "Awakening" movement irregulars (also called "Concerned Local Citizens" and "Sons of Iraq") was estimated at some 65,000-80,000 fighters.cite news
title=In a Force for Iraqi Calm, Seeds of Conflict
The New York Times"
accessdate=2007-12-26] Many of them were former insurgents (including even alienated former AQI supporters), now being armed and paid by the Americans specifically to combat al-Qaeda's presence in Iraq. As of July 2007, this highly controversial strategy proved so far to be effective in helping to secure the Sunni districts of Baghdad and the other hotspots of central Iraq and route out al-Qaeda-aligned militants.
elected key members
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi(killed 2006)
Abu Ayyub al-Masri
Abu Abdullah al-Rashid al-Baghdadi(existence disputed)
Mahir Ahmad Mahmud al-Zubaydi(killed 2008);Other personnel
Abu Azzam(killed 2005)
Abu Yaqub al-Masri(killed 2007)
Hamid Juma Faris Jouri al-Saeedi(captured 2006)
Khaled al-Mashhadani(captured 2007)
Sheik Abd-Al-Rahman(killed 2006)
Terrorist attacks of the Iraq War
* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/security/profiles/al-qaeda_in_iraq.htm Al-Qaeda in Iraq] ,
* [http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2005/65275.htm Country Reports on Terrorism] ,
United States Department of State
* [http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/a/al_qaeda_in_mesopotamia/index.html News about Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, including commentary and archival articles published in The New York Times] , "
The New York Times"
* [http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2007/0710.tilghman.html The Myth of AQI] by Andrew Tilghman, "
The Washington Monthly", October 2007
* [http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/06/01/africa/ME-GEN-Al-Qaida-Video-Offensive.php In motley array of Iraqi foes, why does U.S. spotlight al-Qaida?] ,
Associated Press, June 1, 2007
* [http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1624697,00.html Is al-Qaeda on the Run in Iraq?] , "
TIME", May 23 2007
* [http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0503/p01s04-wome.html?page=1 Sunni Muslim sheiks join US in fighting Al Qaeda] , "Christian Science Monitor", May 3, 2007
* [http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/04/ca95fafc-1e70-450a-a4bf-9417b05caa3c.html Iraq: Al-Qaeda Tactics Lead To Splits Among Insurgents] ,
Radio Free Europe/ Radio LibertyApril 17, 2007
* [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/17/AR2007031701373.html Al-Qaeda in Iraq May Not Be Threat Here; Intelligence Experts Say Group Is Busy On Its Home Front] , "
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* [http://www.newsweek.com/id/138085 Al Qaeda Nostra] , "
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* [http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/06/11/al.qaeda.iraq/index.html?iref=topnews Papers give peek inside al Qaeda in Iraq] ,
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* [http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/017F23DD-5F7E-41D4-A5C8-A45419C18CFB.htm Al-Qaeda in Iraq]
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