Ansar al Islam (AAI), a jihadist group founded in northern Iraq in September 2001, has released a set of photographs purportedly showing its ongoing operations. Since the latest rebel offensive against the Iraqi government began earlier this month, AAI has launched attacks against the military and police. In posts on its official Twitter feed on June 12, AAI claimed 14 attacks. [See LWJ report, Ansar al Islam claims attacks against Iraqi military, police.]
On June 22, the group posted a new set of 10 photos on its Twitter page. While the photos are part of AAI’s propaganda campaign, they are generally consistent with what is known from other sources about AAI’s operations in northern Iraq. Still, The Long War Journal could not independently verify AAI’s specific claims.
The first photo shows the “spoils,” Iraqi tanks, which AAI claims to have captured after “the brothers took control over” an Iraqi Army brigade’s compound in Kirkuk.
In the second photo, AAI shows a “liberated” region in Kirkuk and claims that nine “brothers” were wounded in its operations there.
The third photo shows the “lions” of AAI on their way “to raid the apostates’ headquarters.” The hashtags accompanying this tweet indicate that the pictured operations targeted sites in Kirkuk and Tikrit.
A fourth photo allegedly shows an AAI member raising the group’s flag (described as the “banner of monotheism”) above an entrance to Tikrit.
AAI claims to be in “full control” of a road between Tikrit and Kirkuk. A fifth photo allegedly shows AAI forces patrolling the road.
A sixth photo shows an AAI checkpoint. The accompanying text in the tweet says that the “brothers control the area of Jabal Hamrayn,” which is north of Baghdad, and “set up checkpoints there.”
The seventh photo purports to demonstrate AAI’s control over the highway between Tikrit and Kirkuk.
AAI fighters celebrate in this eighth photo.
In this photo, the ninth in the series, AAI fighters man a checkpoint on the highway between Tikrit and Kirkuk. The picture is intended to further demonstrate the “brothers’ control over the highway.”
The tenth and final photo is accompanied by text that reads, “Forgiveness [granted] to a large number of apostates after the announcement of their repentance for working with the apostate security forces.” The hashtags accompanying the tweet identify the security members as being from Mosul, Kirkuk, and Salahaddin, a province in northern Iraq.
This piece of propaganda may be intended to demonstrate another point of difference between AAI and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS). The two organizations have long been rivals. In its own propaganda videos, the ISIS has shown members of the Iraqi security forces being beheaded and shot.
Oren Adaki, an Arabic language specialist and research associate at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, contributed to this article.