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Ansar al-Islam
Arabic: ansār 'al-'islām

Mullah Krekar of Ansar al-Islam

Mullah Krekar instructs his troops in Iraq

Kurdish militant Islamist group formed in 2001, operating mainly in Iraq. Although denied, it appears most likely that Ansar al-Islam is fully or partly led from Oslo, Norway, and according to many sources, it has been involved in the killing of nearly 1,000 people over the last few years.
Ansar al-Islam is an organization stamped illegal in all countries of operation. Facts concerning its structure and activities are uncertain, and our main sources of information are their own statements, intelligence reports and articles in media. The information below should therefore be read with discrimination.
Ansar al-Islam has an unusually conservative understanding of Islam and Sharia, not far from the one employed by the Taliban of Afghanistan. Ansar al-Islam focuses on everything that can be seen as a diversion from the core of Islam. It has been involved in destroying beauty salons, burning girl's schools and harassing women not covering their hear and face. It has had music and television banned, and imposed strict control on books with a content deviating from its ideas of Islam.
Before the US-led invasion of Iraq Ansar al-Islam controlled a small area in the mountains near the border with Iran. Here it imposed its strict version of Islam, treating anyone opposing it in the harshest way, like isolating them in prison cells too small to sleep horizontally, without windows and toilet.
The alleged leader of Ansar al-Islam, Mullah Krekar, who has refugee status in Norway has denied to Norwegian authorities and media that he still is the leader of Ansar al-Islam. But he has also appeared on Middle Eastern TV-broadcasts designated as leader of Ansar al-Islam. It is therefore most likely that he is at least one of Ansar al-Islam's present leaders.
Today, Ansar al-Islam no longer works as a miniature state controlling a specific area. Rather, it has evolved into a militant group operating all over Iraq attacking both civilians and soldiers, children and adults and never distinguishing between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Allegedly, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is the most prominent leader of Ansar al-Islam in Iraq over recent years. But this piece of information is much disputed.


Ansar al-Islam has been held responsible for many militant actions in recent years. In several of the cases, it may very well not have been involved at all or may have cooperated with other groups. The information below must therefore be read with extreme caution.

2001 December: The two groups Jund al-Islam led by Abu Abdullah ash-Shafi'i and the Islamic Movement group led by Mullah Krekar merge and form Ansar al-Islam, "Supporters of Islam." Ansar al-Islam is centered at Biyarah in Iraq, near the border with Iran, and controls the surrounding areas.
2003 August 7: Ansar al-Islam bombs the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad, killing 19.
August 19: The United Nations headquarters in Baghdad is bombed, allegedly by Ansar al-Islam. 22 are killed.
August 29: A car bomb goes off near the Shi'i mausoleum of Najaf. 85 are killed.
October 27: 4 car bomb attacks in Baghdad kill 35.
November 12: A truck bomb kills 33 near the Italian Military HQ in Nasiriyah.
2004 February 1: 2 suicide bombings kill 109 people in the Kurdish regions of Iraq.
February 10: A truck bomb kills 53 people near police stations in Basra.
February 11: A car bomb kills 47 people near the Iraqi Army facility in Baghdad.
March 2: Suicide bombings near Shi'i shrines kill 181 people.
April 21: Car bombings kill 74 people in Basra.
May: Ansar al-Islam is accused of having planned a militant action against the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a military organization with members mainly from North America and Western/Central Europe) summit in Istanbul, Turkey.

By Tore Kjeilen