Abdullah al Janabi, the former emir of the Mujahideen Shura Council in Fallujah, an umbrella group that was formed by al Qaeda and was the precursor to the Islamic State of Iraq, has returned to Fallujah and is openly preaching at a large mosque there. Janabi is leading the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham in Fallujah, and has even established a “Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.” From Reuters, which details how the ISIS and its tribal allies are in firm control of the city:
In Fallujah, it distributed leaflets on Thursday announcing a new “Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice” to enforce its strict Islamic code, residents said.
That recalled memories of the harsh Islamic courts set up in Falluja when the city was dominated by an umbrella group known as the Mujahideen Shura Council from late 2005 to 2006.
Dozens of youths accused of collaborating with the U.S. occupation were executed on the orders of these courts.
A leader of that council, Abdullah al-Janabi, who was also prominent in an ISIL precursor called the Islamic State of Iraq, returned to Fallujah two days after its takeover this year.
“Blood is on the hands of all policemen. Police buildings were used to torture and to extract confessions … and must be cleansed,” the Sunni cleric told worshippers at the Saad bin Abi Waqas mosque in northern Falluja on Friday.
“We swear by God almighty and the blood of martyrs that the Safavid army will not enter the city except over our dead bodies,” he said, in a derogatory reference to the Iraqi army.
About 200 masked militants using looted police vehicles guarded the road leading to the mosque, where worshippers were checked for weapons before Janabi’s sermon at weekly prayers.
Janabi did the same thing back in 2004, when al Qaeda took control of Fallujah. He set up sharia courts that dispensed harsh rulings that made the Taliban look soft. He welcomed foreign fighters into the city. Janabi was a close ally of Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s deputy, Omar Hadid. From The New York Times, dated Nov. 25, 2004:
Mr. Janabi, a 53-year-old cleric, cemented his position as leader of Fallujah’s resistance after last April’s aborted Marine invasion, when the city solidified into a rebel bastion.
An adherent of the Salafiya sect of Sunni Islam, a fundamentalist branch followed by Osama bin Laden and the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Mr. Janabi set up a strict Taliban-like regime in Fallujah. He named himself head of the mujahideen council and provided safe haven for foreigners like Mr. Zarqawi and anyone willing to take up arms against the Americans or the interim Iraqi government. He worked closely with a Fallujah native believed to be Mr. Zarqawi’s second in command, Omar Hadid.
In the weeks before the offensive, Iraqi officials met with other leaders of Fallujah to seek a peace agreement, but they said they did not expect Mr. Janabi or the foreign fighters would obey those leaders even if an agreement were reached.
So, it is safe to say that Fallujah has reverted to its 2004 state, without the US military to oppose al Qaeda.
Iraqi forces have moved towards Fallujah but have stopped short of launching an assault. The government hopes that the tribes will restore the city to government control, just as the US and the interim Iraqi government did prior to the First battle of Fallujah. Keep in mind that it took nine battalions of US troops, a British battalion, and two battalions of Iraqi forces, backed by air, artillery, intelligence, and other combat enablers to wrest control of the city from al Qaeda during the Second Battle of Fallujah. Then, US and Iraqi forces, backed by the tribes, waged a protracted counterinsurgency before al Qaeda was finally ejected in June 2007. [Read Bill Ardolino’s book, ‘Fallujah Awakens,’ on the counterinsurgency campaign.]