Sunday, January 31, 2010

Iraqi Insurgent Group Ansar al-Islam Releases New Video in Kurdish, "A Brilliant Letter & Continuous March"

Embedded below is a new video release in Kurdish and with Kurdish subtitles when Arabic is used, "A Brilliant Letter and Continuous March," produced by the Iraqi Islamist-nationalist insurgent group Ansar al-Islam (AI). AI has always had a large contingent of Iraqi Kurds and it has historically been based primarily in northern Iraq. AI was founded in Iraqi Kurdistan by Mullah Krekar (Faraj Ahmad Najmuddin), an Iraqi Kurd, in late 2001, reportedly with financial and logistical support from al-Qa'ida Central. The group drew on members of the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan, a party opposed to the secular socialism of Iraqi Kurdistan's dominant political parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

Shortly after the American and British-led invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq, AI was targeted by the U.S. air force and militiamen (Peshmerga) of the KDP and PUK, and its members were uprooted from their bases in northern Iraq. In late 2003, Krekar was replaced as AI leader by Abu 'Abdullah al-Shafi'i. Krekar was in exile in Norway and then under house arrest. AI maintained a strong presence near the border of Iraqi Kurdistan with the rest of Iraq, near the cities of Kirkuk and Mosul. In 2003, a large segment of its members formed a "new" group, Ansar al-Sunnah (AS, "Partisans of Tradition"). AS and several other small insurgent groups reformed as AI in the autumn of 2007. Although its origins were in the Iraqi Kurdish Islamist movement, AI currently is believed to have both Iraqi Kurdish and Arab members. It was and remains one of the largest and most potent of the insurgent groups operating in Iraq.

The release of this video comes one month after the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) released its own Kurd-themed video, "Vanquisher of the Peshmerga," in early January. The ISI is an umbrella for several of the most militantly radical transnational jihadi-Salafi groups operating in Iraq, chief among them al-Qa'ida in the Land of the Two Rivers/Iraq (AQI).

AI declined to join the ISI in October 2006 when it was founded and the "advice" of Al-Qa'ida Central's Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri fell on deaf ears.

Ayman al-Zawahiri Calls for Ansar al-Sunnah (as Ansar al-Islam was then known) to Join the Islamic State of Iraq.

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