Saddam's Ambassador to al Qaeda
An Iraqi prisoner details Saddam's links to Osama bin
Laden's terror network.

By Jonathan Schanzer
The Weekly Standard
March 1, 2004

based terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi asking the
al Qaeda leadership for reinforcements reignited the
debate over al Qaeda ties with Saddam Hussein's fallen
Baath regime. William Safire of the New York Times called
the message a "smoking gun," while the University of
Michigan's Juan Cole says that Safire "offers not even one
document to prove" the Saddam-al Qaeda nexus. What
you are about to read bears directly on that debate. It is
based on a recent interview with Abdul Rahman
al-Shamari, who served in Saddam's secret police, the
Mukhabarat, from 1997 to 2002, and is currently sitting
in a Kurdish prison. Al-Shamari says that he worked for a
man who was Saddam's envoy to al Qaeda.

Before recounting details from my January 29 interview,
some caution is necessary. Al-Shamari's account was
compelling and filled with specific information that would
either make him a skilled and detailed liar or a man with
information that the U.S. public needs to hear. My Iraqi
escort informed me that al-Shamari has been in prison
since March 2002, that U.S. officials have visited him
several times, and that his story has remained
consistent. There was little language barrier; my Arabic
skills allowed me to understand much of what al-Shamari
said, even before translation. Finally, subsequent
conversations with U.S. government officials in
Washington and Baghdad, as well as several articles
written well before this one, indicate that al-Shamari's
claims have been echoed by other sources throughout

When I walked into the tiny interrogation room, it was
mid morning. I had just finished interviews with two
other prisoners--both members of Ansar al Islam, the
al Qaeda affiliate responsible for attacks against Kurdish
and Western targets in northern Iraq. The group had
been active in a small enclave near Halabja in the
Kurdistan region from about September 2001 until the
U.S. assault on Iraq last spring, when its Arab and Kurdish
fighters fled over the Iranian border, only to return after
the war. U.S. officials now suspect Ansar in some of the
bloodier attacks against U.S. interests throughout Iraq.

My first question to al-Shamari was whether he was
involved in theoperations of Ansar al Islam. My translator
asked him the question in Arabic, and al-Shamari nodded:
"Yes." Al-Shamari, who appears to be in his late twenties,
said that his division of the Mukhabarat provided weapons
to Ansar, "mostly mortar rounds." This statement echoed
an independent Kurdish report from July 2002 alleging
that ordnance seized from Ansar al Islam was produced
by Saddam's military and a Guardian article several weeks
later alleging that truckloads of arms were shipped to
Ansar from areas controlled by Saddam.

In addition to weapons, al-Shamari said, the Mukhabarat
also helpedfinance Ansar al Islam. "On one occasion we
gave them ten million Swiss dinars [$700,000]," al-
Shamari said, referring to the pre-1990 Iraqi currency. On
other occasions,the Mukhabarat provided more than that.
The assistance, he added, was furnished "every month or
two months."

I then picked up a picture of a man known as Abu Wael
that I had acquired from Kurdish intelligence. In the
course of my research, several sources had claimed that
Abu Wael was on Saddam's payroll and was also an al
Qaeda operative, but few had any facts to back up their
claim. For example, one Arabic daily, al-Sharq al-Awsat,
stated flatly before the Iraq war, "all information indicates
[that Abu Wael] was the link between al Qaeda and the
Iraqi regime" but neglected to provide any such information.
Agence France-Presse after the war cited a Kurdish
security chief's description of Abu Wael as a "key link to
Saddam's former Baath regime" and an "intelligence agent
for the ousted president originally from Baghdad." Again,
nothing was provided to substantiate this claim.

In my own analysis of this group, I could do little but
weakly assertthat Wael was "reportedly an al Qaeda
operative on Saddam's payroll."The best reporting on
Wael came from a March 2002 New Yorker article by
Jeffrey Goldberg, who had visited a Kurdish prison in
northern Iraq and interviewed Ansar prisoners. He spoke
with one Iraqi intelligence officer named Qassem Hussein
Muhammed, whom Kurdish intelligence captured while he
was on his way to the Ansar enclave. Muhammed told
Goldberg that Abu Wael was "the actual decision-maker"
for Ansar al Islam and "an employee of the Mukhabarat."

"Do you know this man?" I asked al-Shamari. His eyes
widened and he smiled. He told me that he knew the man
in the picture, but that his graying beard was now
completely white. He said that the man was Abu Wael,
whose full name is Colonel Saadan Mahmoud Abdul Latif
al-Aani. The prisoner told me that he had worked for Abu
Wael, who was the leader of a special intelligence
directorate in the Mukhabarat. That directorate provided
assistance to Ansar al Islam at the behest of Saddam
Hussein, whom Abu Wael had met "four or five times."
Al-Shamari added that "Abu Wael's wife is Izzat al-Douri's
cousin," making him a part of Saddam's inner circle.
Al-Douri, of course, was the deputy chairman of Saddam's
Revolutionary Command Council, a high-ranking official in
Iraq's armed forces, and Saddam's righthand man.
Originally number six on the most wanted list, he is still
believed to be at large in Iraq, and is suspected of
coordinating aspects of insurgency against American
troops, primarily in the Sunni triangle.

Why, I asked, would Saddam task one of his intelligence
agents to workwith the Kurds, an ethnic group that was
an avowed enemy of the Baath regime, and had clashed
with Iraqi forces on several occasions? Al-Shamari said
that Saddam wanted to create chaos in the pro-
American Kurdish region. In other words, he used Ansar
al Islam as a tool against the Kurds. As an intelligence
official for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (one of the two
major parties in northern Iraq) explained to me, "Most of
the Kurdish fighters in Ansar al Islam didn't know the link
to Saddam." They believed they were fighting a local jihad.
Only the high-level lieutenants were aware that Abu
Wael was involved.

Al-Shamari also told me that the links between Saddam's
regime and the al Qaeda network went beyond Ansar al
Islam. He explained inconsiderable detail that Saddam
actually ordered Abu Wael to organize foreign fighters
from outside Iraq to join Ansar. Al-Shamari estimated
that some 150 foreign fighters were imported from al
Qaeda clusters in Jordan, Turkey, Syria, Yemen, Egypt,
and Lebanon to fight with Ansar al Islam's Kurdish

I asked him who came from Lebanon. "I don't know the
name of the group," he replied. "But the man we worked
with was named Abu Aisha." Al-Shamari was likely
referring to Bassam Kanj, alias Abu Aisha, who was a
little-known militant of the Dinniyeh group, a faction of
the Lebanese al Qaeda affiliate Asbat al Ansar. Kanj was
killed in a January 2000 battle with Lebanese forces.

Al-Shamari said that there was also contact with the
Egyptian "Gamaat al-Jihad," which is now seen as the
core of al Qaeda's leadership, as well as with the
Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat(GSPC),
which bin Laden helped create in 1998 as an alternative
to Algeria's Armed Islamic Group (GIA). Al-Shamari talked
of Abu Wael's links with Turkey's "Jamaa al-Khilafa"--likely
the group also known as the "Union of Islamic
Communities" (UIC) or the "Organization of Caliphate
State." This terror group, established in 1983 by
Cemalettin Kaplan, reportedly met with bin Laden in
Afghanistan in 1997, and latersent cadres there to train.
Three years before 9/11, UIC plotted to crash a plane into
Ankara's Ataturk Mausoleum on a day when hundreds of
Turkish officials were present.

Al-Shamari stated that Abu Wael sometimes traveled to
meet with these groups. All of them, he added, visited
Wael in Iraq and were provided Iraqi visas. This
corroborates an interview I had with a senior PUK official
in April 2003, who stated that many of the Arab fighters
captured or killed during the war held passports with
Iraqi visas.

Al-Shamari said that importing foreign fighters to train in
Iraq waspart of his job in the Mukhabarat. The fighters
trained in Salman Pak, a facility located some 20 miles
southeast of Baghdad. He said that he had personal
knowledge of 500 fighters that came through Salman
Pak dating back to the late 1990s; they trained in "urban
combat, explosives, and car bombs." This account agrees
with a White House Background Paper on Iraq dated
September 12, 2002, which cited the "highly secret
terrorist training facility in Iraq known as Salman Pak,
where both Iraqis and non-Iraqi Arabs receive
training on hijacking planes and trains, planting
explosives in cities, sabotage, and assassinations."

Abu Wael also sent money to the aforementioned al
Qaeda affiliates, and to other groups that "worked
against the United States." Abu Waeldispensed most of
the funds himself, al-Shamari said, but there was also
some cooperation with Abu Musab al Zarqawi.

Zarqawi, as the prisoner explained, was al Qaeda's link
to Iraq in thesame way that Abu Wael was the Iraqi link
to al Qaeda. Indeed, Zarqawi (who received medical
attention in Baghdad in 2002 for wounds that he
suffered from U.S. forces in Afghanistan) and Abu Wael
helped Ansar al Islam prepare for the U.S. assault on its
small enclave last year. According to al-Shamari, Ansar
was given the plan from the top Iraqi leadership: "If the
U.S. was to hit [the Ansar base], the fighters were directed
to go to Ramadi, Tikrit, Mosul . . . Faluja and other places."
This statement agreed with a prior prisoner interview I
had with the attempted murderer of Barham Salih, prime
minister of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. This second
prisoner told me that "Ansar had plans to go south if
the U.S. would attack."

Al-Shamari said the new group was to be named Jund
ash-Sham, and would deal mainly in explosives. He
believed that Zarqawi and Abu Wael were responsible
for some of the attacks against U.S. soldiers in central
Iraq. "Their directives were to hit America and American
interests," he said.

Al-Shamari claimed to have had prior information about al
Qaeda attacks in the past. "I knew about the attack on
the American in Jordan," he said, referring to the
November 2002 assassination of USAID official Lawrence
Foley. "Zarqawi," he said, "ordered that man to be killed."

These are some of the highlights from my interview, which
lasted about 45 minutes.

I heard one other salient Abu Wael anecdote in an earlier
interview during my eight-day trip to Iraq. That interview
was with the former tenth-in-command for Ansar al Islam,
a man known simply as Qods. In June 2003, just before
he was arrested and put in the jail where I met him, Qods
said that he saw Abu Wael. After the war, Abu Wael
dispatched him from an Ansar safe house in Ravansar,
Iran, to deliver a message to his son in Baghdad. The
message: Ansar al Islam leaders needed help getting
back into Iraq. It was only then, he said, when he met
Abu Wael's son,that he learned of the link between the
Baathists and al Qaeda.

Qods told me that he was angry with the leaders of
Ansar for hiding its ties to Saddam. "Ansar had lots of
secret ties between the Baath and Arab leaders," he

The challenge now is to document the claims of these
witnesses about the secret ties between Saddam, al
Qaeda, and Abu Wael. A number of U.S. officials have
indicated to me that there are other Iraqis who have
similar stories to tell. Perhaps they can corroborate
Abdul Rahman al-Shamari's account. Meanwhile, the
U.S. deck of cards representing Iraq's 55 most wanted
appears to be one card short. Colonel Saadan Mahmoud
Abdul Latif al-Aani, aka Abu Wael, should be number 56.

Jonathan Schanzer is a terrorism analyst for the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy and author of
the forthcoming book "Al-Qaeda's Armies: Middle East
Affiliates and the Next Generation of Terror."



February 11, 2004


On February 9, 2004, Jeffrey White, Jonathan Schanzer,
Patrick Clawson, and Soner Cagaptay addressed The
Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. All four were
part of the Institute fact-finding delegation tasked with
conducting an independent survey of local security
conditions and emerging political currents in Iraq. The
delegation traveled throughout Iraq, from the Turkish
border to the Kuwaiti frontier, speaking with Coalition
Provisional Authority officials, coalition military leaders,
Iraqi Governing Council members, and Iraqi clerics, tribal
leaders, and intellectuals. Mr. White, a retired U.S.
government intelligence analyst specializing in military
and security affairs, is an associate of the Institute. Mr.
Schanzer is a Soref fellow at the Institute, specializing in
radical Islamic movements. The following is a rapporteur's
summary of their remarks; a summary of Dr. Clawson and
Mr. Cagaptay's remarks will be presented in a future


The Resistance

Resistance activities in Iraq were at a high pitch in fall
2003. Attacks became better organized and more lethal,
and several successful operations were mounted against
the coalition. By the end of December, however, the hope
was that the security situation was improving in the wake
of several developments: the capture of Saddam Husayn;
a series of U.S.-led offensive operations; an increased
understanding of resistance forces; attrition within the
resistance networks and their leadership; and the
capture of significant amounts of money and arms. Yet,
the resistance appears to have rebounded somewhat
from the losses of November and December. Resistance
elements remain active, carrying out many of the same
types of operations that they did prior to November.
Reported incidents of attacks on coalition forces have
increased recently from eighteen to twenty-four daily.
The resistance has also begun to shift its objectives
and targets in response to coalition operations.
Militants are now attacking an increasingly broad
range of Iraqis associated with the coalition. The
list of "collaborators" now includes government
officials, judges, police, intellectuals, informers,
and translators.

The resistance seems to be focused on maneuvering
itself into the best possible position for the imminent
transition to Iraqi sovereignty. Resistance elements
|want to ensure that this transition is difficult and
costly by making the situation on the ground as
unstable as possible. Their goals include preventing
the emergence of a Sunni leadership class
associated with the coalition and penetrating the
country's nascent political and security institutions.
At the same time, the resistance wants to preserve
its leadership and cadres, which probably accounts
for its reluctance to engage coalition forces directly.

The resistance is more than simply the fighters who
carry out the operations. The resistance operates
from a base that includes command and control
means, logistics, financial support, safe houses, and
assistance in moving personnel and materials. It has
apparently also developed an "outreach" component
that recruits new members, conducts propaganda-
related activities, and attempts to penetrate the
institutions of the emerging government. In addition,
some resistance elements appear to be heavily
involved in counter-collaboration activities, killing,
harassing, and threatening those individuals who
support the coalition.

The resistance may also be benefiting from
popular discontent with certain aspects of the
coalition presence. For example, hundreds of
detainees swept up by coalition forces in past
raids have not yet been released back into the
Sunni community. Curfews are still being imposed
in towns and cities, while damage and loss of life
remain uncompensated in some cases. Divisive
issues such as these have led to popular
demonstrations against the coalition in the
Sunni triangle. Although the resistance is not
yet popular among Iraqi society as a whole, it
does appear to be gaining some measure
of support.

Coalition Forces

The coalition's move from a proconsul-style
arrangement to an ambassadorial relationship
will likely have a significant impact on both the
coalition and Iraqi society. At least one issue
remains unclear: how the relationship between
the U.S. embassy and the new Iraqi government
will work out with respect to freedom of action for
U.S. forces. The U.S. military posture in Iraq will
undergo major changes, with a new corps
headquarters being established in the country
along with a four-star general position. This
structure may allow for larger planning and
intelligence staffs, which could in turn lead to
improved overall management of coalition
military operations. Some observers feel that
the various U.S. divisions in Iraq have thus far
waged more or less independent campaigns;
this would likely change with the arrival of a
new corps headquarters.

Coalition forces are in the midst of a massive
troop rotation, during which a number of new
divisions will be entering Iraq. This rotation will
inevitably cause some loss in tactical experience
and overall understanding of the situation, at
least until the new divisions gain familiarity with
current operational conditions. Coalition forces
have proven highly adaptive as the character of
the resistance has changed, and this dynamic
will certainly continue with the introduction of
new forces.

Although the multiple Iraqi security services
currently being developed are making progress,
they still have a long way to go before they can
fulfill the mission requirements that are being
thrust upon them. The new Iraqi army is making
strides, but coalition and Iraqi authorities have
yet to determine what role, if any, the army will
have in providing internal security. The Iraqi
Civilian Defense Corps appears to be evolving
as a regional and perhaps rural force that can
be quickly deployed to trouble spots. The Iraqi
Police Service appears to be an urban and local
force that will represent the first line of defense
against crime and insurgency. Each component of
the new security forces is in need of basic
resources, from uniforms to ethics training.
Establishing these forces and bringing them to a
mission-capable standard will be a time-
consuming process.

The Emergence of Politics

Politics has reemerged with a vengeance in Iraq.
One official claimed that there are currently 130
political parties and factions operating in the
southern part of the country. Although this figure
may be exaggerated, many Iraqi factions have
armed militias or military wings that are in fact
being employed for political advantage. The
objective of such factions is to establish
themselves as the dominant political force at
the local or even regional level. Managing this
political activity will be a major challenge for the
coalition, especially when it turns violent.

Despite the negative elements inherent in the
security situation, the new Iraq is showing
several positive signs. Iraqis have high
expectations that major improvements will
commence once money begins to flow into the
country and reconstruction projects begin.
Coalition forces have a much better
understanding of the resistance and how to
fight it, while the Iraqi security forces are
making progress and appear to be on the
right track. The coalition is also beginning to
see the stirrings of civil society in Iraq;
individuals are gaining basic training in
democracy, and grassroots democracy is
emerging in some areas.

At the same time, it must be acknowledged
that the security situation in Iraq has dangerous
components that should not be downplayed.
There is no assurance that all will turn out in
accordance with the coalition's long-term


Ansar al-Islam

Prior to 2003, Ansar al-Islam was a small
organization confined largely to the northern part
of Iraq, in the Halabja area. The group was highly
centralized with a clear command structure. Yet,
after February 5, 2003, when Secretary of State
Colin Powell announced that the group was a major
U.S. concern, its leadership developed a dispersal
plan. As a result of that plan, approximately 400
Ansar al-Islam fighters reportedly escaped to Iran.
In the wake of Operation Iraqi Freedom, many
fighters returned to Iraq, resuming their operations
in the area of Fallujah, Tikrit, and Ramadi. Similar to
the current global structure of the al-Qaeda network,
Ansar al-Islam has become quite decentralized, with
members operating via small cells and informal
groupings. According to one intelligence source,
the average cell consists of about six operatives
with one commander. These cells employ
freelancers, outsiders, Ba'athists, and militants
who do not fit the al-Qaeda mold to carry out

Recent interviews with Ansar al-Islam prisoners
in Sulaymaniyah, as well as with other Iraqi and
U.S. sources, indicate that the prewar
cooperation between Ba'athists and Ansar may
have been the result of one man's work: Col. Saadan
Abd al-Latif Mahmoud al-Ani, also known as Abu Wael.
Although he was not on the U.S. list of fifty-five most-
wanted Iraqis, all of those interviewed stated that he
was responsible for organizing some of al-Qaeda's
activities inside Iraq. Apparently, he brought al-Qaeda
to Iraq under a strategy not of winning war, but of
foiling U.S. plans for the country. In the late 1990s,
he invited several al-Qaeda groups to train at Salman
Pak, a camp located twenty miles southeast of Baghdad,
and helped to finance them as well.

In general, the majority of jihadis entering Iraq come
across the Iranian border. Although Kurdish intelligence
reports that three to ten such individuals are captured
per week, they are unsure how many others are getting
through. It is unclear whether the Iranian government is
deliberately helping these individuals cross the border or
simply turning a blind eye. Many foreign jihadis are using
old smuggling routes that were employed during
Saddam's time. After crossing the border they go to a
safe house, receive weapons and orders, and then
attack their targets.


Although the coalition is doing a good job under
difficult circumstances, some officials are overly
optimistic about the prospects that Islamist extremism
will not be popular in Iraq. Islamism is often a utopian
crutch for people during uncertain times. It is usually
popular among the young and unemployed, and Iraq has
a young population with a high rate of under- or
unemployment. Moreover, the Iraqi Ministry of Awqaf
(religious endowment) is currently being restructured,
leaving Iraqi mosques unmonitored in the meantime. For
their part, Islamists are well positioned to provide social
services that the coalitionand the Iraqi government are
still struggling to establish. Indeed, providing such
services has been an effective recruiting aid in other
countries, where Islamists take advantage of the
vacuum left by other authorities in order to gain the
support of the masses.

The potential for Islamist growth in Iraq is also
evident in attitudes expressed by Iraqis in the Kurdistan
region. For example, even though that region is less
susceptible to Islamism than the rest of the country, an
official in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) stated
that Islamist factions would garner 10 to 15 percent of
the vote in the PUK area if elections were held today.

Some have speculated that Iraq will come to
resemble 1980s-era Afghanistan. To be sure,
foreign jihadis have flocked to Iraq from Tunisia,
Jordan, Turkey, Morocco, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, the
Palestinian territories, and elsewhere. Nevertheless,
Iraq is not the next Afghanistan, despite an upsurge
in terrorism, porous borders, general confusion, and
weak central authority. In the north, the Kurds have
been fairly successful at counterterrorism (despite the
recent bombings in Irbil). In the south, the Shi'is keep
the coalition informed about people who are new to
the area and other suspicious individuals. In the
central part of Iraq, however, the situation is likely to
remain confusing. Fortunately, the foreign jihadi
problem seems to be confined to that part of the

This Special Policy Forum Report was prepared
by Jeff Cary, a Dr. Marcia Robbins-Wilf young scholar
and research assistant at The Washington Institute,
and by Ryan Phillips, also a research assistant at the


Ansar al-Islam: Back in Iraq
by Jonathan Schanzer - Middle East Quarterly- Winter 2004

Months before the Iraq war of 2003, The New Yorker,
Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times
published reports about Ansar al-Islam ("Partisans of Islam"),
a brutal band of al-Qa‘ida guerrillas based in a Kurdish area
of northern Iraq near the Iranian border. U.S. officials pointed
to Ansar al-Islam as the "missing link" between al-Qa‘ida and
Saddam Hussein. When Secretary of State Colin Powell made
the U.S. case for war against Saddam at the United Nations
on February 5, 2003, he cited Ansar al-Islam as a key reason
for invasion. Powell drew links among the group, al-Qa‘ida,
and Saddam, citing Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
documents declassified upon the request of the White

As war approached, however, the Bush administration
said less about Ansar al-Islam and al-Qa‘ida. Rather,
the administration focused on Saddam's attempts to
develop weapons of mass destruction. After the war, it
became a matter of common wisdom that Saddam had
no links to al-Qa‘ida. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate
Armed Services Committee, said that the case linking
Saddam to al-Qa‘ida was never "bullet-proof."[2] Former
vice president Al Gore denied that such ties existed at

But since the defeat and dispersal of Saddam's regime,
U.S. officials have begun to talk of Ansar al-Islam once more.
In July 2003, U.S. joint chiefs of staff chairman General
Richard Myers stated "that group is still active in Iraq."[4]
A week later, Myers revealed that some cadres from the
group had been captured and were being interrogated.[5]
The U.S. top administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer III, reiterated
Myers's message in August, saying that there were "quite a
number of these Ansar al-Islam professional killers on the
loose in the country," that they were staging attacks against
U.S. servicemen, and that U.S. forces were trying to track
them down.[6]

High-profile attacks against U.S. and international interests
in Iraq in August also appeared to confirm suspicions that
Ansar al-Islam was again operational. The attacks on the
Jordanian embassy and the United Nations (U.N.) compound
in Baghdad, followed later by a spate of suicide bombing
attacks against foreign and U.S. targets, clearly fit the modus
operandi of al-Qa‘ida. However, Ansar al-Islam never claimed
responsibility for these attacks. Thus, analysts are now
wondering, who exactly in Iraq represents Ansar al-Islam?
Has the group rebounded? Is it connected with other
elements in the Iraqi resistance, especially partisans of the
old regime? If so, is it possible that it did have ties to the
Saddam even before the war?

These questions require careful analysis as U.S. forces
prepare for more battles ahead.

The Rise of Ansar

The roots of Ansar al-Islam extend back to the mid-1990s.
The group appears to be comprised of the various Islamist
factions that splintered from the Islamic Movement of
Kurdistan (IMK) in northern Iraq. As Iraq scholar Michael
Rubin notes, they included groups called Hamas, Tawhid,
and the Second Soran Unit, among others.[7]

On September 1, 2001, the Second Soran Unit and the
Tawhid Islamic Front merged to form the Jund al-Islam.
Jund al-Islam was soon renamed Ansar al-Islam. As the
group grew, it bore the markings of other al-Qa‘ida affiliates.
Their cadres hailed from other Arab countries; some of them
had experience in Afghanistan, and they based themselves
in the part of Iraq under the weakest central authority:
northern Iraq, also widely known as Iraqi Kurdistan.

Iraqi Kurdistan is an area of Iraq that until recently was
protected in the northern "no-fly" zone by allied warplanes
after the 1991 Kuwait war. The United States and Britain
sought to defend the area from incursions by Saddam's
regime (which was responsible for the brutal murder of
hundreds and expulsion of hundreds of thousands after
the 1991 war) but left the area to be governed by the
Kurds themselves. The Kurds were successful in creating
a semiautonomous region under an interim government.

But northern Iraq lacked overarching central control.
Opposing political factions—namely the Kurdistan Democratic
Party of Iraq (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)—
held small hamlets of power, but they exercised no authority
on the fringes of their zones. Those lawless fringes appeared
to be the perfect spot to launch another jihad.

Ansar al-Islam announced its inception just days before
the September 11 attacks on the United States. One month
before, leaders of several Kurdish Islamist factions reportedly
visited the al-Qa‘ida leadership in Afghanistan[8] seeking to
create a base for al-Qa‘ida in northern Iraq.[9] Perhaps they
knew that the base in Afghanistan would soon be targeted,
following the impending terrorist attacks against U.S. targets.

There were other clear indications that al-Qa‘ida was behind
the group's creation. The authors of a document found in
Kabul vowed to "expel those Jews and Christians from
Kurdistan and join the way of jihad, [and] rule every piece of
land … with the Islamic Shari'a rule."[10] The Los Angeles
Times, based upon interviews with an Ansar prisoner, also
corroborates this, noting that in October 2000, Kurdish
Islamist leaders:

sent a guerrilla with the alias Mala Namo and two
bodyguards into Iran and then on to bin Laden's camps …
When teams began returning from the Afghan camps in
2001 … they carried a message from bin Laden that Kurdish
Islamic cells should unite. By that time, a number of
al-Qaeda operatives had left Afghanistan and moved to
northern Iraq … militant leaders in Kurdistan were
replicating al-Qaeda type camps on military training,
terrorism, and suicide bombers.[11]

According to several reports, Ansar al-Islam was started
with $300,000 to $600,000 in al-Qa‘ida seed money.[12]
According to at least three journalistic sources, the group
received money from a key cleric in the al-Qa‘ida network,
Abu Qatada, based in London.[13] In April 2003, the Los
Angeles Times reported that Italian police had wiretapped
conversations with an imam from Cremona, Italy, indicating
that Syria was serving as a hub for recruits.[14] Some funds
reportedly came from Saudi Arabia.[15]

While some thirty al-Qa‘ida members reportedly joined
Ansar al-Islam's Kurdish cadres in 2001,[16] the foreign
fighter presence soon grew to between eighty and 120. The
group's Arab members included Iraqi, Lebanese, Jordanian,
Moroccan, Syrian, Palestinian, and Afghan fighters trained in
a wide array of guerrilla tactics.[17] The fighters, armed with
heavy machine guns, mortars, and antiaircraft weaponry,
sought to create a Taliban-like regime. They banned music,
alcohol, pictures, and advertising in their stronghold. Girls
were prevented from studying; men were forced to grow
beards and pray five times daily.

Ansar al-Islam operated in fortified mountain positions
along the Iran-Iraq border known as "Little Tora Bora"
(after the Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan).[18] Colin
Powell, in his February 5, 2003 statement to the U.N.
Security Council, noted that the organization had
established a "poison and explosive training center camp …
in northeastern Iraq."[19]

Prewar Violence

Ansar al-Islam made headlines in September 2001 when it
ambushed and killed forty-two PUK fighters. This alarmed the
Kurds, who quickly established a conventional defensive front.
It was soon understood that the Kurds were the target of a
new jihadist war.

A wave of violence erupted in spring 2002, beginning with a
politically motivated plot. Ansar al-Islam attempted to murder
Barham Salih, a PUK leader. Five bodyguards and two attackers
were killed in the ensuing gunfight.[20] Ansar al-Islam's tactics
became bloodier, with the aim of inflicting as much damage as
possible. In June, Ansar bombed a restaurant, injuring scores
and killing a child.[21] In July, the group killed nine PUK
fighters.[22] In a move reminiscent of the Taliban, the group
destroyed Sufi shrines.[23] In December, Ansar launched a
surprise attack after the PUK sent 1,500 soldiers home to
celebrate the end of Ramadan.[24] According to Ansar's
website, they killed 103 PUK members and wounded
117.[25] Gruesome pictures of the group's victims were
posted on the Internet.[26]

As Ansar al-Islam grew more violent, information began to
surface about three worrisome aspects of Ansar al-Islam:
(1) its interest in chemical weapons; (2) its possible links to
Saddam's regime; and (3) its connections to Iran.

Chemical weapons. By early 2003, more than thirty
Ansar al-Islam militants (including fifteen to twenty Arab
fighters) were incarcerated in the Kurdish "capital" of
Sulaymaniyah.[27] The International Herald Tribune noted,
"critical information about this network emerged from
interrogations of captured cell members."[28] Based on this
testimony and other intelligence, information was gleaned
about Ansar al-Islam's nascent chemical facilities.

Specifically, it was reported that cyanide gas and the poison
ricin were among the chemicals tested by Ansar al-Islam.[29]
The Washington Post also reported that Ansar al-Islam
smuggled VX nerve gas through Turkey in fall 2001.[30] PUK
prime minister Barham Salih cited "clear evidence" of animal
testing.[31] Other Kurdish leaders said they had "eyewitness
accounts, prisoners confessions, and seized evidence" to
support this.[32]

After Powell's U.N. speech on February 5, 2003, Ansar allowed
a small group of reporters to visit their enclave to check for
chemical weapons, "especially in the Khurmal and Sargat, areas
where Ansar was believed to be developing ricin."[33]
Neither Powell's claim nor the militants' denials could be verified.

Ties to Saddam. Bush administration and PUK officials
increasingly claimed that Ansar al-Islam was working directly
with Saddam. Some reports indicated that Saddam's regime
helped smuggle weapons to the group from Afghanistan.[34]
Kurdish explosives experts also claimed that TNT seized from
Ansar al-Islam was produced by Baghdad's military and that
arms arrived from areas controlled by Saddam.[35] Another link
was said to be a man named Abu Wa'il,[36] reportedly an
al-Qa‘ida operative on Saddam's payroll.[37]

It was also believed that Abu Musab az-Zarqawi, the al-Qa‘ida
operative who ordered the hit on Salih in spring 2002, had a
relationship with Saddam. As war drew near, U.S. authorities
announced that he had sought medical attention in Baghdad[38]
where Saddam harbored what Powell called "Zarqawi and his
subordinates"[39] for eight months. Intelligence revealed that
he was also directly tied to Ansar; he reportedly ran a terrorist
training camp in northern Iraq before the recent war.[40]

Zarqawi, by way of background, is thought to have coordinated
the murder of USAID officer Laurence Foley in Amman, Jordan,
in October 2002.[41] Former Federal Bureau of Investigation
analyst Matthew Levitt notes that Zarqawi was the head of
a 116-person global al-Qa‘ida network and that "authorities
have linked Zarqawi to recent attacks in Morocco, Turkey,
and other plots in Europe."[42]

Links to Iran. It was also suspected that Iran
played a significant role in supporting Ansar al-Islam. Indeed,
Iran openly allowed the group to operate along its borders
despite the group's alleged affiliation with the al-Qa‘ida
network. Kurds further allege that Iran provided logistical
support by allowing for the flow of goods and weapons
and providing a safe area beyond the front.[43]

There were other connections; the group's spiritual leader,
Mullah Krekar, spent many years in Iran and was arrested in
Amsterdam after a flight from Tehran. The Turkish Milliyet
also notes that Ansar al-Islam checked cars leaving their
stronghold going into Iran, indicating coordination with the
Islamic republic. [44] Tehran, for its part, predictably denied
all ties to the group.

War Comes
By February, U.S. war preparations were nearly complete.
Powell's U.N. speech made a plea to other governments to
confront Saddam, and this was based in part on evidence
concerning Ansar al-Islam.[45] In so doing, Powell also left no
doubt that in addition to Saddam, Ansar would be a target in
the imminent war.

Given this context, it might have made sense for the group to
lower its profile. Instead it went on the offensive. Ansar al-Islam
claimed responsibility for the February 8 assassination of Kurdish
minister Shawkat Hajji Mushir, a founding member of the PUK.
Ansar elements, posing as defectors, shot Mushir in the head.
Four people were killed in the ensuing gunfight, including an
eight-year-old girl; the Ansar gunmen escaped.[46] Later that
month, a man thought to belong to Ansar al-Islam detonated
a suicide bomb near a Kurdish checkpoint. The bomb, packed
with metal shards, marked the first reported use of suicide
bombings by the group.

On February 20, the U.S. Department of Treasury named Ansar
al-Islam a Specially Designated Terrorist Group (SDTG).[47] The
designation effectively constituted a hunting license for U.S.
forces. As the war neared, Ansar al-Islam braced itself for a
combined U.S.-Kurdish assault. One Kurdish official noted that
"nervousness" set into the group, which retreated to higher
mountain peaks and dug into caves.[48]

On March 23, with the war fully underway, PUK fighters attacked
Ansar al-Islam's stronghold, with backing from U.S. Special
Forces, unmanned aerial vehicles, and aircraft strikes. Cruise
missiles destroyed much of the enclave. Deserters left behind
artillery, machine guns, mortars, and Katyusha rockets. On
March 25, Ansar fighters made a desperate attack on PUK
forces near Halabja but were repelled. Dozens of their forces
were wounded or killed.[49] Within eight days, the entire Ansar
enclave was decimated. At least 259 Ansar al-Islam fighters
were killed in the fighting. According to the group's leader,
some twenty-eight planes and 108 rockets destroyed the

During the fighting, PUK forces also took eight fighters into
custody, including Jordanians, Syrians, Tunisians, and one
Palestinian who stated that he came to Iraq to "kill Americans."
Interestingly, many captured Arab fighters held passports with
Iraqi visas, signaling that Iraq likely approved their

After rummaging through the debris, coalition officials found a
multitude of intelligence leads, including a list of suspected
militants living in the United States, the phone number of a
Kuwaiti cleric, and a letter from Yemen's minister of religion.
Evidence also reportedly showed that specific meetings took
place between Ansar and al-Qa‘ida activists.[52] German media
reported that a three-volume manual was found listing chemical
and biological experiments, including the use of ricin and

After U.S. forces began their March 23 assault on Ansar
positions, wounded fighters hobbled across the border, seeking
Iran's assistance. However, an official from the Kurdish Socialist
Democratic Party noted that "they went inside one kilometer,
but the Iranians made them go back."[54] On March 30, dozens
more fighters escaped to Iran. However, Kurdish factions
reported that on that occasion, Tehran detained them as

Hamid-Reza Asefi, a spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry,
insisted that "there is no link between this group and
Iran."[56] But, in subsequent months, Washington and
Tehran were reportedly negotiating the transfer of several
Ansar militants who were still in Iran. Among those sought by
the United States were Abu Wa'il and a man named Ayub
Afghani, an explosives expert trained in Afghanistan.[57]

It is still thought that Iran hosts several al-Qa‘ida militants in its
territory. In fact, some senior American officials believe that the
orders to carry out the May 12, 2003 bombings in Riyadh came
from Sayf al-‘Adil, an al-Qa‘ida operations chief based in Iran
at the time of the bombing.[58] U.S. officials and Arab press
reports have since indicated that al-Qa‘ida spokesman
Sulayman Abu Ghayth, Osama bin Laden's son Sa‘d, and
Zarqawi are among a number of al-Qa‘ida operatives in Iran.
Iranian president Muhammad Khatami, however, refused to
allow U.S. investigators to question suspects detained

Ansar Rebounds

Following the fall of Baghdad in early April 2003, some 140,000
U.S. forces occupied Iraq. Since then, relative calm has
prevailed in the south under British control and in the north,
still held by the Kurds. But U.S. forces in Iraq's center have
become embroiled in a guerrilla war with unspecified
numbers of irregular fighters who have inflicted a rising
number of casualties.

For the first two months, Bush administration officials appeared
certain that Saddam loyalists were the culprits behind sniper
attacks and mine explosions that killed several soldiers per
week. By July, however, after U.S. forces surrounded and
killed Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay, officials began
invoking the name Ansar al-Islam.

The resurgence of Ansar al-Islam was no surprise. After all,
some 300-350 members fled the Ansar compound ahead of
the Iraq war, meaning that the group was bound to
survive.[60] And as one prisoner during the war stated, "I
don't think the fight with Ansar will be over when America
finishes its bombing."[61]

As if on cue, in late April, clashes took place between a band of
Ansar militants and local Kurdish security forces 45 kilometers
east of Sulaymaniya.[62] The following month, just after the
war's end, a Kurdish spokesman stated that the group was
trying to "regroup in the mountainous Iraqi-Iranian border
region," and that "a number of Ansar members are trying to join
another Islamic group" in the region.[63]

Soon after that, Kurdish officials cited an unconfirmed report
that several thousand al-Qa‘ida fighters could attempt to
resuscitate Ansar's activities. Further, one Kurdish spokesman
lamented that "if the strikes had occurred one year [before], we
would have completely destroyed Ansar. They were half
expecting the strikes, which gave them plenty of time to
disperse, or for their leaders to relocate."[64] The official also
noted that if the group had developed ricin or other chemical
weapons, it likely moved them before the attacks. Thus, Ansar
al-Islam could still carry out a chemical attack.

Finally, Kurdish officials also expressed fears that sleeper cells
were waiting to be activated in the Kurdish enclave and that
they could employ tactics such as suicide bombing. Evidence
\of this came in two wartime operations: the March 22 suicide
bombing, carried out by a Saudi, killing an Australian cameraman
at a checkpoint near Halabja,[65] and the thwarted suicide
car-bombing on March 27 when security personnel shot an
\assailant before he reached the Zamaki checkpoint.[66]

Ansar's website, during the war and after, featured a "Letter
from the Emir of Ansar al-Islam, Abu ‘Abdullah ash-Shafi‘ to the
Muslims of Kurdistan and Iraq and the World." The missive
threatened that "300 jihad martyrs renewed their pledge to
Allah, the strong and the sublime, in order to be suicide
bombers in the victory of Allah's religion."[67]

Kurdish fears appeared to be vindicated in June when Ansar
al-Islam announced that it had opened its doors to volunteers
to fight the United States in Iraq. In a statement sent to
Ash-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper, ‘Abdullah ash-Shafi‘, the
group's local leader, boasted (falsely) that his group had
already destroyed ten U.S. tanks.[68]

When a car bomb rocked the Jordanian embassy in Iraq on
August 7, 2003, and killed seventeen people, Ansar al-Islam
was among the first suspected culprits. According to Lt. Gen.
Norton Schwartz, no specific information about Ansar's
involvement was available, but he still noted that Ansar had
"infrastructure in Iraq, and some of that remains, and our
effort is focused on eliminating that."[69] An Al-Hayat article
on the same day iterated Schwartz's concerns, stating that
Islamic militants from Pakistan had infiltrated northern Iraq
with the help of bin Laden, and "it was suspected that the
Ansar al-Islam group was in connection with the Islamists in
Falluja, Tikrit, Bayali, and Baghdad" where attacks against
U.S. forces were taking place.[70] Washington expressed
fears that the number of fighters might have been in the
hundreds.[71] Administration officials also expressed
concerns that safe houses and other logistical operations
in Iraq were being run by Ansar al-Islam.[72]

Meanwhile, the PUK reported in August that its forces had
captured several Ansar militants among some fifty people
caught infiltrating northern Iraq by way of Iran.[73] Among
them were five Iraqis, a Palestinian, and a Tunisian.[74]
Information gleaned from subsequent interrogations has not
yet been made public by Kurdish officials.

Following the Jordanian embassy attack, there was fear that
Ansar was still planning something bigger. Indeed, Bremer
stated, "Intelligence suggests that Ansar al-Islam is planning
large-scale terrorist attacks [in Iraq] … I think we have to be
pretty alert to the fact that we may see more of this."[75]

On August 13, a number of gunmen attacked U.S. troops in
downtown Baghdad and then sped from the scene. Before
they left, however, they dropped cards stating "Death to the
Collaborators of America—al-Qa‘ida." This may have been in
reference to the Jordanian embassy bombing, or even to the
forthcoming bombing at the U.N. compound in Baghdad on
August 19, when a suicide bomber drove a cement mixer full
of explosives that set off a blast killing seventeen and
wounding more than 100 people. While two previously
unknown groups claimed responsibility for the attack,
The New York Times noted that "the immediate focus of
attention was Ansar al-Islam, a militant Islamic group that
American officials believe has been plotting attacks
against Western targets in Baghdad."[76]

Ansar's Network
These operations, in the heart of Baghdad, raised the specter
of cooperation between regime remnants and Ansar al-Islam.
According to officials interviewed by The Weekly Standard,
Ansar cadres were thought to be "joining with remnants of
Saddam's regime to attack American and nongovernmental
organizations working in Iraq."[77] There was much
speculation that the Iraqi resistance was being coordinated
by ‘Izzat Ibrahim ad-Duri, a Saddam confidant and one of the
most wanted Baathists. He was fingered by two captured
members of Ansar al-Islam as an instigator of the recent
campaign of violence against Americans in Iraq. [78]
(However, subsequent reports indicated that ad-Duri was
struggling for his life in a battle with leukemia and was
probably incapable of coordinating attacks against

Meanwhile, a concurrent Newsweek report indicated that
"Ansar fighters are joining forces with Baathists and
members of al-Qaeda."[80] That report also indicated
that Ansar's structure was morphing such that each
"fighting force is said to be reorganized into small units
of ten to fifteen members, each headed by an ‘emir'."[81]
According to this report, Ansar, through its use of cells and
contract fighters, had become a microcosm of the larger
al-Qa‘ida network, which implements a similar structure

Ansar al-Islam's Iranian connection also gave rise to
speculation. In August, suspected Ansar militants and/or
al-Qa‘ida cadres continued to stream across the Iranian
border. While Kurdish officials arrested some fifty militants in
August 2003,[82] it is not known how many have made it
across without incident.

Among the infiltrators, some came with fake passports while
others had identification from Tunisia and even European
countries. Once the infiltrators made it out of Iran, Saddam
loyalists were thought to help smuggle them into central Iraq
to fight U.S. forces.[83] In this way, it appears that the mullahs
ensured continued fighting in Iraq.[84] Iran was also under
increased scrutiny for its continued harboring of more senior
al-Qa‘ida operatives. Some of these operatives were expelled
to their host countries. The whereabouts of others are

Ansar al-Islam is not only back in Iraq; the group also appears
to have gone global—at least, to some extent. Ash-Sharq
al-Awsat reported in April that two Tunisians were arrested
in Italy for ties to Ansar al-Islam.[86] In August, several
suspected Ansar cadres were found with five Italian
passports.[87] Italy appears to be a central jumping-off point
for Ansar; wiretaps by Italian police confirm this to be true.[88]
More recently, Italian intelligence revealed the existence of an
extensive al-Qa‘ida support network in northern Italy. The
network, established in spring 2002 and based out of Milan,
Varese, and Cremona, has reportedly provided funds and
recruits to Ansar al-Islam and al-Qa'ida. [89]

But many questions remain about the extent of Ansar
al-Islam's network. Lebanese, Jordanian, Moroccan, Syrian,
Palestinian, and Afghan fighters have all fought among
the ranks of Ansar. That could mean there is or was a
recruiting infrastructure in each country to bring them to
northern Iraq. Further, if the group did receive funds from
Abu Qatada in London, then Ansar al-Islam also has at least
some infrastructure there. If Syria is a staging ground for
Ansar fighters, as the Italian wiretaps revealed, then Ansar
is one more terrorist organization operating with a wink and
a nod from Damascus. And finally, if some funding for the
group came from Saudi Arabia, as Michael Rubin suggests,
then one can assume that the Wahhabi infrastructure is
supporting this group.[90]

Unfortunately, there are no definitive answers to these
questions. Ansar al-Islam is a new terrorist group; information
about it is still emerging. But one thing is clear: Ansar al-Islam
is one of the most dangerous affiliates in al-Qa‘ida's orbit, with
the potential to strike at vital U.S. interests in Iraq. And given
its broader links, the group could develop an even wider
reach—like al-Qa‘ida itself.

Jonathan Schanzer is a Soref Fellow at the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy. This article draws upon his
forthcoming monograph, Al-Qaeda's Affiliates: Exploiting
Weak Central Authority in the Arab World
(The Washington Institute).

[1] Colin Powell, remarks to the U.N. Security Council, Feb. 5,
2003, at http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2003/17300.htm;
Stephen F. Hayes, "Saddam's al-Qaeda Connection,"
The Weekly Standard, Sept. 1-8, 2003.
[2] Congressional Record, 108th Congress, 1st sess.,
"Iraq Intelligence," July 15, 2003, at
[3] Al Gore, remarks at New York University, Aug. 7, 2003, at
[4] Agence France-Presse, July 30, 2003.
[5] The New York Times, Aug. 7, 2003.
[6] Paul Bremer news conference, Aug. 2, 2003, quoted at http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/08/08/nyt.gordon/.
[7] Michael Rubin, "The Islamist Threat in Iraqi Kurdistan,"
Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, Dec. 2001, at
[8] The New York Times, Jan. 13, 2002; author's interview
with Barham Salih, Washington, D.C., Jan. 10, 2002.
[9] Los Angeles Times, Dec. 9, 2002.
[10] The Kurdistan Observer, Jan. 14, 2002, at
[11] Los Angeles Times, Feb. 5, 2003.
[12] NewsMax.com, Mar. 18, 2002, at http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2002/3/18/74151.shtml;
The Christian Science Monitor, Mar. 15, 2002.
[13] The Jerusalem Report, Nov. 18, 2002; The Christian Science
Monitor, Apr. 2, 2002; Le Monde, Nov. 13, 2002.
[14] Los Angeles Times, Apr. 28, 2003.
[15] Rubin, "The Islamist Threat in Iraqi Kurdistan."
[16] Agence France-Presse, Dec. 4, 2002.
[17] Author's interview with Barham Salih, Jan. 10, 2003; The
Christian Science Monitor, Mar. 15, 2002.
[18] Ibid.
[19] Colin Powell, remarks to the U.N. Security Council, Feb. 5,
2003, at http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2003/17300.htm.
[20] The Christian Science Monitor, Apr. 9, 2002.
[21] Iraqi Kurdistan Dispatch, July 5, 2002, at
[22] The Washington Post, Sept. 5, 2002.
[23] Kurdistan Newsline, July 23, 2002, at http://www.puk.org/web/htm/news/knwsline/nws/kurdlead.html.
[24] Ash-Sharq al-Awsat (London), Dec. 6, 2002.
[25] Associated Press, Dec. 15, 2002.
[26] At http://www.nawend.com/ansarislam.htm (site no longer
[27] Author's interview with Barham Salih, Jan. 10, 2003.
[28] The New York Times, Feb. 6, 2003.
[29] Al-Hayat (London), Aug. 22, 2002; Los Angeles Times, Dec
9, 2002.
[30] The Washington Post, Dec. 12, 2002.
[31] Author's interview with Barham Salih, Jan. 10, 2003.
[32] Author's interview with PUK representative, Washington,
D.C., Mar. 2003.
[33] Author's interview with PUK official, Washington, D.C.,
Apr. 1, 2003.
[34] The New Yorker, Mar. 25, 2002.
[35] The Guardian, Aug. 23, 2002.
[36] "Ansar al-Islam," Iraq News Wire, no. 8, Middle East Media
Research Institute (MEMRI), Sept. 1, 2002, at
[37] The Christian Science Monitor, Apr. 2, 2002; Los Angeles
Times, Dec. 9, 2002.
[38] The International Herald Tribune, Feb. 7, 2003.
[39] Powell, remarks to the U.N. Security Council, Feb. 5, 2003,
at http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2003/17300.htm.
[40] The Washington Times, July 30, 2003.
[41] Confirmed by source at the Pentagon.
[42] Matthew Levitt, "Placing Iraq and Zarqawi in the Terror
Web," Policywatch. no. 710, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Feb. 13, 2003, at http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/watch/policywatch/policywatch2003/710.htm;
author's interview, Dec. 10, 2003.
[43] The Washington Post, Sept. 5, 2002.
[44] Milliyet (Ankara), Jan. 7, 2003.
[45] Powell, remarks to the U.N. Security Council, Feb. 5, 2003,
at http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2003/17300.htm.
[46] The New York Times, Feb. 10, 2003.
[47] Treasury Department statement regarding the designation
of Ansar al-Islam, Feb. 20, 2003, at
[48] Author's interview with PUK official, Washington, D.C., May 2003.
[49] "USWAR/Ansar al-Islam Attacks PUK Positions," Islamic
Republic News Agency (IRNA), Mar. 26, 2003, at http://www.irna.com/en/head/030326094847.ehe.shtml
(site no longer available).
[50] Associated Press, Aug. 12, 2003.
[51] Author's interview with PUK official, May 2003.
[52] Associated Press, Mar. 31, 2003.
[53] Agence France-Presse, Apr. 9, 2003.
[54] The Washington Post, Mar. 25, 2003.
[55] Author's interview with PUK official, May 2003.
[56] Agence France-Presse, Mar. 25, 2003.
[57] United Press International, May 9, 2003.
[58] An-Nahar (Beirut), May 21, 2003.
[59] Agence France-Presse, Aug. 13, 2003
[60] The New York Times, Aug. 13, 2003.
[61] The Boston Globe, Mar. 19, 2003.
[62] Ash-Sharq al-Awsat, Apr. 22, 2003.
[63] Author's interview with Kurdish spokesman, Washington, D.C.,
May 20, 2003.
[64] Author's interview with PUK official, Apr. 1, 2003.
[65] Kurdish Media, Mar. 25, 2003, at
[66] Author's interview with PUK official, Apr. 1, 2003.
[67] At http://www.nawend.com/ansarislam.htm (site no l
onger available).
[68] Ash-Sharq al-Awsat, June 13, 2003.
[69] Associated Press, Aug. 8, 2003.
[70] Al-Hayat, Aug. 7, 2003.
[71] Agence France-Presse, Aug. 14, 2003.
[72] The New York Times, Aug. 13, 2003.
[73] Reuters, Aug. 12, 2003.
[74] The New York Times, Aug. 13, 2003.
[75] Ibid., Aug. 10, 2003.
[76] Ibid., Aug. 20, 2003.
[77] The Weekly Standard, Sept. 1-8, 2003.
[78] Associated Press, Oct. 30, 2003.
[79] The Washington Times, Oct. 31, 2003.
[80] Newsweek, Oct. 13, 2003.
[81] Ibid.
[82] Ash-Sharq al-Awsat, Aug. 18, 2003.
[83] Agence France-Presse, Aug. 17, 2003.
[84] Ash-Sharq al-Awsat, Aug. 18, 2003.
[85] Middle East Newsline, Aug. 21, 2003.
[86] Ash-Sharq al-Awsat, Apr. 3, 2003.
[87] The New York Times, Aug. 13, 2003.
[88] Los Angeles Times, Apr. 28, 2003.
[89] "Ansar Al-Islam's European Base," American Foreign
Policy Council, Oct. 31, 2003, citing Corriere della Serra (Milan),
Oct. 27, 2003.
[90] Rubin, "The Islamist Threat in Iraqi Kurdistan."

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