Hamas Iraq

FormedMarch 2003
DisbandedGroup is active.
First AttackAugust 2004: The group claimed responsibility for an attack on two helicopters, one in the Abu-Ghurayb region, one near Al-Fallujah.[1],[2]
Last AttackFebruary 2009: Grenade attacks carried out against American troops in Baqouba, Diyala province (Casualties unknown).[3]
UpdatedFebruary 15, 2012

Narrative Summary

The National Islamic Resistance in Iraq formed during the first part of the U.S.-led Coalition in Iraq, but its existence was unknown for over a year.[4] Many of the group's principles were similar to those of Hamas of Palestine, but there were no official ties between the groups. 

In a statement released on behalf of the National Islamic Resistance in Iraq in October 2004, a member of the group spoke out against the Iraqi government. He accused it "of 'aborting a peaceful solution with the people of Fallujah,'" and he advised "all Iraqi military personnel and government employees to quit their jobs, otherwise they 'will be permissible targets for our fighters.'"[5] Following this statement, the National Islamic Resistance in Iraq established itself as a small political force in Iraq. During this time, the 1920s Revolution Brigades served as the group's military wing, carrying out attacks in Baghdad and Anbar province.[6][7] 

During the early part of 2007, the National Islamic Resistance in Iraq underwent some internal restructuring and emerged with a new name: Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas in Iraq. The purpose of the restructuring was to better suit the group for actions on the local, regional, and national fronts in Iraq.[8] 

Shortly thereafter in early 2007, Hamas in Iraq and its armed wing, the 1920s Revolution Brigades, split. The split was a result of multiple operational differences. Upon splitting from the Brigades, Hamas in Iraq accused Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and al Qa'ida of causing too much suffering for Sunni civilians in Iraq.[9] They claimed that al Qa'dia in Iraq (AQI) "has actually made people here [in Iraq] think that the occupation forces are merciful and humane by comparison."[10] 

In September 2008, Hamas in Iraq was considered a "very dangerous militia" with strong ties to the Iraqi Islamic Party. At the time, it had been conducting multiple assassinations against sahwa leaders in Anbar province.[11] As recently as June 2010, relations with the 1920s Revolution Brigades have improved. Hamas in Iraq and the Brigades, along with the Mujahideen Army, have worked together with the Iraqi military to battle AQI.[12] 

In July 2010, however, Hamas in Iraq spread to the Anbar province in an effort to fill the void created during the removal of AQI from the area.[13] Following this, the head of the Awakening Council in Iraq, Ahmad Abu-Rishah, blamed Hamas in Iraq for deteriorating the strength of security in the Anbar province.[14]

Leadership

Ideology & Goals

Hamas in Iraq is a Sunni organization. Although it is tied to the Iraqi Islamic Party, Iraq's largest Sunni political party,[15] the group is much more focused on removing coalition forces from Iraq than on sectarian violence. Leaders in the group believe foreign influence "is responsible for igniting the sectarian sedition," which is what has directed them in focusing their efforts "on forcing the enemy to leave Iraq."[16] Conflict resolution, they believe, cannot happen with force. Accordingly, they have urged other armed factions to continue to fight until coalition forces have left.[17] 

Hamas in Iraq, as its name suggests, is modeled off qualities of the Palestinian Hamas. In an interview with a Jordanian newspaper, an unidentified leader of the political wing of Hamas in Iraq listed the following attributes the group embraces: "the way it [Palestinian Hamas] carries out positive political action in parallel with military action, how it pinpoints the target accurately, keeps away from marginal or imaginary battles, settles any domestic disagreements, achieves domestic harmony and coexistence, and reassures neighbour countries."[18]

Name Changes

Designated/Listed

Unknown

Resources

Unknown

External Influences

Hamas in Iraq has been influenced by the Palestinian Hamas, and members of Hamas in Iraq see many similarities in the two groups. However, members have stressed that "there are no organizational links between the two movements."[22]

Geographical Locations

Hamas in Iraq operates solely within Iraq. Throughout its existence, attacks have been focused mostly in Baghdad as well as Anbar and Diyala provinces.

Targets & Tactics

Hamas in Iraq has targeted mostly American forces but has also carried out attacks aimed at Shiite militias.[23] Attacks have included roadside explosives and rocket propelled grenades. The group also took hostages in 2005 and released them unharmed.

Political Activities

Hamas in Iraq is tied to the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP), which was formed in 1960 but suppressed during Saddam Hussein's regime. It is currenly Iraq's largest official Sunni party[24]. Hamas in Iraq has been called its "armed wing"[25], but it is not known exactly how closely the two groups operate.

Major Attacks

  1. August 2004: The armed wing of Hamas in Iraq claimed attacks on two helicopters, one in the Abu-Ghurayb region, one near Al-Fallujah ((unknown)).[26]
  2. August 20, 2004: The armed wing of Hamas in Iraq attacked a vehicle between Baghdad and Najaf, kidnapping the Italian journalist inside and killing his driver; the journalist was killed 6 days later (2 killed).[27]
  3. October 29, 2004: Hamas in Iraq's armed wing kidnapped a Sudanese interpreter west of Baghdad ().[28]
  4. October 30, 2004: The group's armed wing carried out a car bomb attack on al-Arabiya television network in Baghdad (7 killed, 19 injured).[29]
  5. January 22, 2005: The National Islamic Resistance in Iraq released eight Chinese civilians it had been holding hostage (None killed).[30]
  6. November 30, 2005: The 1920s Revolution Brigades carried an attack as the armed wing of the National Islamic Resistance in Iraq on U.S. soldiers in western Baghdad (2 killed).[31]
  7. December 2005: The armed wing plotted to fire rockets into Saddam Hussein's courtroom in Baghdad ((no casualties)).[32]
  8. January 13, 2006: The 1920s Revolution Brigades attacked American military vehicles with roadside bombs in Abu Ghraib and al-Anbar as the armed wing of the National Islamic Resistance in Iraq (5 killed).[33]
  9. January 22, 2008: Claimed responsibility for firing a rocket at a U.S. military vehicle in al-Anbar (Casualties unknown).[34]
  10. February 12, 2008: Cooperated with the Salah-al-Din Brigades in forcefully closing all commercial stores in Baqoubah's main market (Casualties unknown).[35]
  11. February 2009: Grenade attacks carried out against American troops in Baqouba, Diyala province (Casualties unknown).[36]

Relationships with Other Groups

On July 14, 2006, Hamas in Iraq announced its support of the Lebanese resistance against Israel and called "for more attacks in Iraq to support 'our jihad brothers in Palestine and Lebanon.'"[37] 

In early 2007, Hamas in Iraq and the 1920s Revolution Brigades split for multiple reasons.[38] Previously, the groups had been associated with Zarqawi and with al Qa'ida's overall goals. However, al Qa'ida carried out a chlorine gas attack near Fallujah and subsequently assassinated many members of the Brigades for speaking out against the attack. Though everyone in the group wanted to dissociate themselves from al Qa'ida, they disagreed on how to confront the issue. The majority, who became the 1920s Revolution Brigades, wanted to battle al Qa'ida openly. Those who did not want to use violence in this particular instance, however, remained Hamas in Iraq.[39] Hamas in Iraq also took on a more nationalist ideology than had been used by the Brigades.[40] A final issue that separated the two groups was whether or not to cooperate with Coalition forces. Hamas in Iraq chose not to negotiate while the Revolution Brigades did.[41][42] 

Since 2006, AQI has fought against Hamas in Iraq. These attacks are the result of Hamas in Iraq's political activities in various regions, including Diyala. According to a lower leader within AQI, Hamas in Iraq wanted "to annihilate the organization [AQI]."[43] On September 30, 2007, Hamas in Iraq spoke out against AQI. The statement released said, "[we urge] the leaders of Al-Qa'idah Organization to rethink and consider their bitter harvest in Iraq. They should ask themselves this important question: Why have all jihadist factions in Iraq stood against us? And why have people risen against us today after they embraced us in the past?"[44] 

In November 2007, Hamas in Iraq, along with parts of the Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI), the Mujahideen Army, the Fatiheen Army, and the Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance, formed the Political Council for the Iraqi Resistance (IRPC) in opposition to AQI's Islamic State of Iraq (ISI).[45]

Community Relationships

In March 2007, a representative from the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq praised Hamas in Iraq and its work.[46] 

In February 2008, Hamas in Iraq members made up a significant portion of the Diyala Popular Committees members.[47] The Popular Committees is an armed faction which has fought with police and forcibly shut down commercial stores in Diyala.

References

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  2. ^ "Iraqi paper lists 'resistance' and "armed" groups, aims," Al-Zawra via BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, September 19, 2004, p. 4, LexisNexis Academic.
  3. ^ Tomkins, Richard, "Ba'athist comeback feared; Insurgent former Saddam loyalists seen causing violence," The Washington Times, June 4, 2009, LexisNexis Academic.
  4. ^ "Hamas-Iraq official details to Jordanian Islamic paper its programme" Al-Sabil (Jordan) via BBC Monitoring Middle East, April 12, 2007, LexisNexis Academic.
  5. ^ Tran, Tini, "Iraqi leader accuses U.S. of 'negligence' in ambush; 50 soldiers killed; Fallujah airstrike kills aide to terrorist al-Zarqawi," The Herald-Sun, October 27, 2004, LexisNexis Academic.
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  9. ^ Roggio, Bill, "Al Douri forms nationalist Sunni coalition; 1920s Revolution Brigades denounces al Qaeda," The Long War Journal, October 4, 2007, retrieved on October 7, 2010 from http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2007/10/al_douri_forms_natio.php.
  10. ^ Roggio, Bill, "Al Douri forms nationalist Sunni coalition; 1920s Revolution Brigades denounces al Qaeda," The Long War Journal, October 4, 2007, retrieved on October 7, 2010 from http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2007/10/al_douri_forms_natio.php.
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  22. ^ "'Hamas of Iraq' said modelled on Palestinian Hamas; praised by Sunni scholar," Al-Jazeera Television via BBC Monitoring Middle East, March 28, 2007, LexisNexis Academic.
  23. ^ Gabbay, Michael, "Mapping the Factional Structure of the Sunni Insurgency in Iraq," CTC Sentinel, Vol. 1, Issue 4, March 2008, p. 11, retrieved on October 15, 2010 from http://www.ctc.usma.edu/sentinel/CTCSentinel-Vol1Iss4.pdf.
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  33. ^ "Armed group videotape claims attack against US jeep in northern Iraq," Al-Jazeera via BBC Monitoring Middle East, January 13, 2006, LexisNexis Academic
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  37. ^ Wong, Edward, "Radical Shiite Cleric Hints at Militia Attacks to Protest Israel's Actions," The New York Times, July 15, 2006, LexisNexis Academic.
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