Islamic Army in Iraq

FormedJuly 2003
DisbandedGroup is active.
First AttackJuly 23, 2004: The group took hostage one Iraqi and two Pakistanis near Baghdad. The Pakistanis were shown dead on video five days later; the Iraqi was subsequently released (2 killed).[1]
Last AttackMarch 13, 2010: The group claimed responsibility for an attack on a US military vehicle north of Baghdad, Iraq (Casualties unknown).[2]
UpdatedJuly 23, 2014

Narrative Summary

The Islamic Army in Iraq was established after the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, though plans for its creation existed earlier, in anticipation of the invasion. [3] Reportedly one of the largest Sunni insurgent groups in Iraq, IAI's Islamist narrative is more inclusive than that of many other groups within the Iraqi jihadist movement. [4] IAI includes members who espouse an Iraqi nationalist platform as well as members who espouse an Islamic one. IAI was not only anti-coalition, also anti-Iran. The group conducted attacks against Iranian and Shiite interests throughout the course of the conflict, including the kidnapping and interrogation of an Iranian diplomat. [5],[6]

IAI has few, if any, foreign members. Its members are drawn from various Iraqi factions and include former members of the Hussein regime.[7]IAI is most active in and around the Baghdad area.[8]

IAI rejected AQI and was one of the leading Sunni insurgent groups actively opposed to AQI.[9] [10] IAI and AQI clashed occasionally, both in their public rhetoric and in actual force-on-force engagements.[11]  

From 2006-2007, IAI’s operations decreased substantially as many members left to join the Awakening Councils in order to fight AQI. However, beginning in 2011, the group regained strength as it used anti-government protests to recruit supporters. The group affirmed an anti-al-Maliki stance and also advocated for the creation of a new, federal government. [12] 

However, since Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi created ISIS out of AQI, many of IAI’s fighters have left to join the tribal police forces called Sahwa, which are focused on battling ISIS in Iraq. While IAI continues operations, these are mostly in combination with other groups, indicating decreased capability to act independently.  [13]

Leadership

  1. Sheikh Ahmed al-Dabash (2003 to Present): Dabash is one of the founding leaders of the IAI and currently acts as the group’s spokesman when dealing with the international media. He was on the U.S.’s Most Wanted list in Iraq for much of the late 2000s. [14]
  2. Ishmael Jubouri (2004 to Unknown): Jubouri is a leader of Islamic Army in Iraq; however, little is known about his specific role in the group. He is a Sunni tribal member in central Iraq, and has supported increasing the frequency of the group’s attacks.[15]

Ideology & Goals

IAI’s original goal was the expulsion of all coalition forces and the creation of a new government. In addition, IAI remains highly nationalistic. [16] IAI has dismissed excessive and civilian violence. [17] [18] IAI stated in 2012 that it would continue its insurgency after the US withdrawal in order to remove all traces of US influence. [19] IAI now intends to remove al-Maliki and create a new federal government. [20]  

Size Estimates

Designated/Listed

Not designated as a terrorist organization. 

Geographical Locations

The IAI has consistently carried out attacks north of Baghdad as well as in Anbar.

Targets & Tactics

The IAI's attacks were consistently against foreign (mostly American) forces and the Iraqi troops aiding them.[23] These attacks were carried out using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and car bombs. Some attacks were also carried out using rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) against helicopters. Another of the group's tactics was taking hostages, typically foreign civilians.

Political Activities

In June of 2005, the IAI and the Mujahideen Army allegedly indicated initial willingness to negotiate with the Iraqi government and disarm. [24] However, these proceedings did not move past their initial stages, with demands for increased Sunni participation in government largely unmet and harsh, broad military attacks targeting insurgents pushing groups away from negotiations.

 In 2012, following the withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq, IAI created a political branch called the Sunni Popular Front. The media spokesman of the Sunni Popular Front is Sheikh Ahmad Dabbash. [25] 

Major Attacks

  1. August 2004: The IAI took two French journalists hostage in the area between Baghdad and Najaf, demanding that the French parliament lift its ban on Islamic headscarves in public schools. The two journalists were released unharmed in December 2004. (0 killed, 0 wounded).[26]
  2. March 24, 2005: The IAI claimed responsibility for a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) that detonated at a city entrance checkpoint in Ar Ramadi, Anbar, killing 11 Iraqi police commandos and wounding 3 Iraqi civilians and 2 U.S. Marines. (11 killed, 5 wounded).[27]
  3. April 21, 2005: The IAI claimed responsibility for shooting down a commercial helicopter north of Baghdad. (11 killed, unknown wounded).[28]
  4. June 23, 2005: Ansar al-Sunnah, the Mujahideen Army, and the IAI claimed responsibility for two simultaneous vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attacks in different areas of Bagdad in which seven civilians and three police officers were killed and ten other civilians wounded. (10 killed, 10 wounded).[29]
  5. November 2005: The IAI kidnapped U.S. security contractor Ronald Alan Schulz, demanding that all Iraqi prisoners held by the U.S. be released. When the U.S. failed to meet its demands, the IAI released a video of Schulz’s execution. (1 killed, 0 wounded).[30]
  6. April 2007: Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) militants attacked and killed 30 IAI fighters after they refused to pledge allegiance to AQI. (30+ killed, unknown wounded).[31]
  7. April 2007: Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) militants attacked and killed 30 IAI fighters after they refused to pledge allegiance to AQI. (30+ killed, unknown wounded).[32]
  8. April 2007: Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) militants attacked and killed 30 IAI fighters after they refused to pledge allegiance to AQI. (30+ killed, unknown wounded).[33]
  9. November 9, 2007: The IAI killed 18 AQI militants when it attacked an AQI-held compound near the city of Samarra. During the attack, 15 IAI fighters were also killed and 16 AQI fighters were captured. (33 killed, unknown wounded).[34]
  10. January 5, 2009: The IAI claimed responsibility for an IED attack at a gas station in the Karradah district of Baghdad. (0 killed, 4 wounded).[35]
  11. February 22, 2014: The Islamic Army of Iraq claimed that it and the Mujahideen Army had coordinated an attack on government forces near al-Karma. The groups purportedly downed a government helicopter during the fighting. (unknown casualties).[36]
  12. June 14, 2014: The IAI fought along side the Islamic State (IS) when it captured Mosul from the Iraqi army on June 10, 2014. (unknown casualties).[37]

Relationships with Other Groups

In May 2007, IAI joined the Mujahideen Army, Ansar al-Sunna Shariah and Ansar al Islam to form the Reformation and Jihad Front (RJF), an anti-AQI umbrella group. [38][39] The groups had cooperated previously, as IAI joined Ansar al-Islam and the Mujahideen Army on June 23, 2005, in detonating two vehicle-borne IEDs in Baghdad, killing 10 civilians and police officers and wounding 10 more.[40]IAI and the Mujahideen Army officially announced their operational coordination in mid-2005. [41] The RJF published joint statements, engaged in joint operations, and was aligned in opposition to the U.S.-led coalition, Iran, Shiite militias, and AQI. Some reports suggested that the IAI and other RJF elements negotiated with coalition forces and sought to create anti-AQI alliances throughout the country. By the middle of 2007, however, the RJF became largely inactive. [42]

IAI and AQI had a fluctuating relationship, one that started in cooperation but resulted in conflict between the groups, largely over the killing of civilians and attacks on other resistance fighters.[43]In April 2007, after the AQI's Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) killed more than 30 members of IAI for refusing to join the group, IAI and members of the 1920s Revolution Brigades publicly stated their opposition to AQI’s killing of civilians and attacks on other resistance forces.[44]In June 2007, members of the Brigades reinforced fighters of the Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI) in fighting ISI. [45] After Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi created ISIS out of AQI, many IAI fighters left to join tribal police forces called Sahwa, which are focused on battling ISIS in Iraq. [46]

 Reuters reported in 2012 that IAI was part of the Political Council of the Iraqi Armed Resistance, which includes several Sunni militant groups and opposes the Shiite Iraqi government. [47] Most IAI operations are in combination with other groups, indicating the group’s decreased capability to act independently.  [48] 

Community Relationships

In 2007, IAI opposed the tribal awakening councils because they were typically aligned with and supported by coalition forces. [49] Nevertheless, more recently, many IAI members have joined tribal police forces called Sahwa in order to counter ISIS operations in Iraq. [50]

References

  1. ^ "A Chronology of Significant International Terrorism for 2004," National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), April 27, 2005, p. 39.
  2. ^ "Islamic Army Video Claims Bombing of US Vehicle in Iraq," Al Jazeera via BBC Monitoring Middle East, March 13, 2010, LexisNexis Academic.
  3. ^ Kohlmann, Evan, "Exclusive:  An Interview with The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI)," NEFA Foundation, July 2008, retrieved on May 20, 2010 from http://www.nefafoundation.org/miscellaneous/FeaturedDocs/nefaiaiiraq0708.pdf.
  4. ^ Abedin, Manhan, "Before Counterinsurgency:  Post-2005 Provincial Election Terrorist Trends in Iraq," Volatile Landscape:  Iraq and Its Insurgent Movements, Jamestown Foundation, March 10, 2005, p. 10.
  5. ^ Abdel-Hamid, Hoda, "Inside the Islamic Army of Iraq," Al Jazeera, November 20, 2006, retrieved on May 20, 2010 from http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2006/11/2008525124016422749.html.
  6. ^ Abedin, Manhan, "Before Counterinsurgency:  Post-2005 Provincial Election Terrorist Trends in Iraq," Volatile Landscape:  Iraq and Its Insurgent Movements, Jamestown Foundation, March 10, 2005, p. 10.
  7. ^ Abedin, Manhan, "Before Counterinsurgency:  Post-2005 Provincial Election Terrorist Trends in Iraq," Volatile Landscape:  Iraq and Its Insurgent Movements, Jamestown Foundation, March 10, 2005, p. 10.
  8. ^ Abdel-Hamid, Hoda, "Inside the Islamic Army of Iraq," Al Jazeera, November 20, 2006, retrieved on May 20, 2010 from http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2006/11/2008525124016422749.html.
  9. ^ Kohlmann, Evan, "Exclusive:  An Interview with The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI)," NEFA Foundation, July 2008, retrieved on May 20, 2010 from http://www.nefafoundation.org/miscellaneous/FeaturedDocs/nefaiaiiraq0708.pdf.
  10. ^ Roggio, Bill, "Islamic Army of Iraq Splits with Al Qaeda," Long War Journal, April 2007, retrieved on Jan 9, 2012 from http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2007/04/islamic_army_of_iraq.php
  11. ^ Al-Naimi, Dr. Ali, "A Press Statement on the Events of al-Latifiyah and Samarra Areas," translated and reprinted by the NEFA Foundation, November 1, 2007, retrieved on May 20, 2010 from http://www1.nefafoundation.org/miscellaneous/iaidigest1107-1.pdf.
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