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Ansar al-Sunnah Acknowledges Relationship with Ansar al-Islam, Reverts to Using Ansar al-Islam Name

By Evan Kohlmann

In recent days, the leader of the Ansar al-Sunnah Army (JAAS)--Commander Abu Abdullah al-Shafi--has issued a fairly remarkable communique that has received little public attention. Ansar al-Sunnah is one of Iraq's most prominent insurgent groups, and has worked more closely with Al-Qaida than any other such organization. For the first time, al-Shafi publicly acknowledged that Ansar al-Sunnah is just another name for Ansar al-Islam, the Kurdish Islamic movement formerly headed by Mullah Krekar. According to al-Shafi:

“Ansar al-Islam was the second-most important target for the American military forces [which invaded Iraq]... On [March 21, 2003], our group engaged in military battles against the American army and its supporters. After a period of fighting back against the American assault, the leadership of Ansar al-Islam decided to withdraw. As a result, the American army and the apostates took control of the area. Shortly thereafter, Allah enabled us to rearrange our movement and we returned in Iraq under the new name of Ansar al-Sunnah. Due to certain realities on the battlefield, we had to expand our operations, while modifying our tactics, in order to confront the American enemy and its supporters... Indeed, with the help of Allah, the mujahideen succeeded in many of the clashes, battles, ambushes, strikes, and suicide attacks. They were also pioneers in using improvised explosive devices (IEDs)... Given our responsibility in maintaining the principles of Islam, the unity of Muslims, and to deal with existential issues that shall determine our survival, we have decided to continue our work under the name of the Ansar al-Islam organization. This name shall be the official name used in all future communiqués and statements…”

An English translation of the communique can be downloaded from the NEFA Foundation website care of the TerrorWatch subscription service. For more information on the Ansar al-Sunnah Army, see State of the Sunni Insurgency in Iraq: August 2007.

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