- Hits: 1414
aka Ansar al-Sunna; Ansar al-Sunna Army; Devotees of Islam; Followers of Islam in Kurdistan; Helpers of Islam; Jaish Ansar al-Sunna; Jund al-Islam; Kurdish Taliban; Kurdistan Supporters of Islam; Partisans of Islam; Soldiers of God; Soldiers of Islam; Supporters of Islam in Kurdistan
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on March 22, 2004, Ansar al-Islam’s (AI’s) goals include expelling western interests from Iraq and establishing an independent Iraqi state based on Sharia law. AI was established in 2001 in Iraqi Kurdistan with the merger of two Kurdish extremist factions that traced their roots to the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan. On May 4, 2010, Abu Abdullah al-Shafi'i, Ansar al-Islam's leader, was captured by U.S. forces in Baghdad and remains in prison. On December 15, 2011 AI announced a new leader, Abu Hashim Muhammad bin Abdul Rahman al Ibrahim.
Mullah Krekar (aka Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad), an Iraqi citizen and the founder of Ansar al-Islam, continued to reside in Norway on a long-term residence permit. In March 2012, a trial court convicted Krekar of issuing threats and inciting terrorism, and sentenced him to six years in prison. Krekar appealed, and in December an appeals court affirmed his convictions for issuing threats and intimidating witnesses, but reversed his conviction for "inciting terrorism." The appeals court reduced his sentence to two years and 10 months in prison.
Activities: AI has conducted attacks against a wide range of targets including Iraqi government and security forces, and U.S. and Coalition Forces. AI has conducted numerous kidnappings, executions, and assassinations of Iraqi citizens and politicians. The group has either claimed responsibility or is believed to be responsible for attacks in 2011 that killed 24 and wounded 147.
Strength: Though precise numbers are unknown, AI is considered one of the largest Sunni terrorist groups in Iraq.
Location/Area of Operation: Primarily northern Iraq, but also maintains a presence in western and central Iraq.
Funding and External Aid: AI receives assistance from a loose network of associates in Europe and the Middle East.