The largest Sunni insurgent group has severed ties with al Qaeda and its Islamic State of Iraq; Sunni religious leaders oppose al Qaeda
The Sunni civil war in Iraq continues to gather steam. The Islamic Army in Iraq, the largest Sunni insurgent group which has previously operated closely with al Qaeda in Iraq, has severed ties with the terror group after several months of infighting, Al Jazeera reported today. Ibrahim al-Shammari, an Islamic Army in Iraq spokesman, “told Al Jazeera on Thursday that the Islamic Army in Iraq had decided to disunite from al Qaeda in Iraq after its members were threatened.”
“In the beginning, we were dealing with Tawhid and Jihad organisation, which turned into al Qaeda in Iraq,” Al-Shammari explained. Specifically after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi died, the gap between us [and al Qaeda] widened, because [they] started to target our members… They killed about 30 of our people, and we definitely don’t recognise their establishment of an Islamic state – we consider it invalid.”
Evidence of the split between the Islamic Army in Iraq and al Qaeda began to appear early this year. Mishan al-Jabouri, the owner of Al Zawraa – or Muj TV, which is the propaganda television station for the Islamic Army in Iraq, lashed out against al Qaeda in February of 2007. Jabouri aired a laundry list of complaints against al Qaeda and its puppet Islamic State of Iraq. the grievances included:
• al Qaeda in Iraq has divided the Iraqi people, failed to protect the Sunnis and brought the Shia death squads down on the Sunnis by inciting sectarian violence through mass suicide attacks.
• The Islamic State of Iraq in Iraq wants the Sunni groups to “pledge allegiance” to leaders, ministers and emirs whose identities are unknown, including Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.
• Islamic State of Iraq has continued to conduct an extensive campaign of assassination against rival sheikhs, emirs and insurgent group leaders, and in many cases added insult to injury by failing to give the bodies back to the families. One of al-Jabouri’s own messengers was executed.
• The Islamic State of Iraq has no system of law or justice.
• Weapons and ammunition are being confiscated from insurgent groups that do not support the Islamic State.
• al Qaeda in Iraq is intentionally targeting members of the Iraqi Army and police forces, who al-Jabouri and other insurgents believe are acting in the best interest of Iraqis.
• The goal of the Islamic State of Iraq is to serve as a stepping stone to attack other nations, which endangers the Iraqi people.
Earlier this week, Nibras Kazimi noted that the Islamic Army in Iraq, via a press release on its website, launched a “vicious rhetorical counterattack against al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and its recent statements and actions.”