ANSAR AL ISLAM
Ansar al-Islam was a group established by two Islamic extremists, Abu Musab al Zarqawi and Mullah Krekar, both escapees from Jordan in 1999. They merged their supporters with a local Kurdish Sunnite group “Jund al-Islam” ( Soldiers of Islam), led by Abu Abdullah al Shafii, in the mountain of Iraqi Kurdistan in 12/2001. At that time Iraqi Kurdistan was very much an ungoverned region – ideal for groups like this.
At that time Ansar al-Islam was mainly engaged in fighting with the Kurdish local militia, the Peshmerga, and other secular Kurdish groups and suffered heavy casualties from the Kurdish forces. The group was supported partially by Al Qaeda but also by the Iraqi intelligence and even by the Iranian army artillery in order to destabilize the Kurdish partial autonomy and to prevent any future Kurdish state.
With the joining of Abu Musab al Zarqawi to the organization he became immediately a prominent figure in this group. Ansar al Isalm began to broaden its’ interests outside Kurdistan to the neighbor Arab countries and Europe and tried to look for other methods of terror, including chemical terror and Ricin poisoning. Abu Musab al Zarqawi succeeded to establish in the Arab countries and Europe a ramified active network ready to his call.
Shortly after the USA invasion and occupation of Iraq on 04/2003 Abu Musab al Zarqawi got his golden opportunity to fight the Jihad in his own way on his territory. The Ansar al-Islam network, loyal to Abu Musab al Zarqawi, responded by:
A. Recruiting volunteers from the Muslim world, including Muslims in Europe, to the war against USA in Iraq.
B. Raising money for the war.
C. To open a terror campaign against all countries and regimes who supported the Americans in Iraq.
Almost all the attempts to carry out terror attacks in Europe were foiled because of the successful cooperation between the different security services despite the rare success in the painful Madrid Trains Bombing.
In Turkey and the Middle East the Abu Musab al Zarqawi organization, under different names like Ansar al-Islam in Iraq, Abu Hafes al Masri Brigade in Europe and Turkey (Abu Hafes al Masri was the nick name of Mohammed Atef ), the Abdullah Azzam Martyr Brigade in Egypt and Syria, Al Qaeda in Iraq and dozens of other names, exported the war in Iraq partially to Iraq s’ neighbors in the Middle East.
Although Abu Musab al Zarqawi never was the official leader of Ansar al-Islam, that organization, under different names, is completely identified with him. Today (03/2007), under the name Ansar al Sunna, it is only one of hundreds insurgence groups in Iraq. The legacy of Ansar al-Islam is the personal legacy of Abu Musab al Zarqawi.
After The 9/11 Ansar al-Islam replaced successfully the infrastructure of Al Qaeda that was dismantled by the security services in the Europe, USA and the Middle East. Ansar al-Islam was the most active Jihad network in Europe and a major concern to the countries involved.
Today (03/2007), specially after the death of Abu Musab al Zarqawi on 06/07/2006 his activity is limited mainly to Iraq and its neighboring countries.