Islamic Army in Iraq

The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI) is a Sunni Islamist militant organization created in 2003 with the aim of expelling foreign troops from Iraq.

AT A GLANCE

Overview

Brief Summary of the Organization's History.

Organization

How does a group organize? Who leads it? How does it finance operations?

Strategy

How does a group fight? What are its aims and ideologies? What are some of its major attacks?

Major Attacks

What are the group's most famous attacks? What are some key attacks in the group's evolution?

Interactions

What is the group's relationship with the community? How does it interact with other groups?

Maps

What is the group's relationship with other militants over time?

Key Statistics

2003 First Recorded Activity
2004 First Attack
2014 Last Recorded Activity

Contact

Send a message to the Mapping Militants team.

How to Cite

Mapping Militant Organizations. “Islamic Army in Iraq.” Stanford University. Last modified March 2019. https://cisac.fsi.stanford.edu/mappingmilitants/profiles/islamic-army-iraq

Overview

Brief History

    Overview
  • Overview
  • Narrative

Overview

Formed 2003
Disbanded Group is active.
First Attack August 2004: The IAI took two French journalists hostage in the area between Baghdad and Najaf, demanding that the French parliament lift its ban on Islamic headscarves in public schools. The two journalists were released unharmed in December 2004. (0 killed, 0 wounded) 
Last Attack June 10, 2014: The IAI fought along side the Islamic State (IS) when it captured Mosul from the Iraqi army on June 10, 2014. (unknown casualties). 
Updated March 2019

 

The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI) is a Sunni Islamist militant organization created in 2003 with the aim of expelling foreign troops from Iraq.  From 2003-2011, the group primarily targeted U.S. forces in Iraq. However, in 2006 and 2007, several clashes between IAI and Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) fighters were reported.  The group dissolved itself in 2011 following the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, and its members subsequently created a political activism group called the Sunni Popular Movement. The IAI re-activated in December 2013 to fight against the Maliki government alongside many other Sunni insurgent groups. Although the IAI has worked with the Islamic State (IS) since its resurgence in 2013, an IAI spokesman indicated that the partnership is one of convenience and that it may soon dissolve. The group’s last known activity was in 2014. As of March 2019, the IAI is believed to likely be inactive.

Narrative

The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI), also known as the Jaysh al-Islamiya fil Iraq, was a Sunni Islamist militant organization that was active in Iraq during two periods of time: from 2003 to 2011, and from late 2013 to the end of 2014. Although Islamist, the IAI’s rhetoric and membership was more inclusive than many other jihadist groups in the region; the IAI denounced the killing of Christians and Shiites, and it counted both Shiites and Sunni nationalists among its members.[i]

The IAI was formed in 2003 in response to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.  Among the group’s founders was Sheikh Ahmed al-Dabash. Dabashwas an influential Sheikh in Baghdad and a leading figure in the Batawi family, one of the country’s largest Sunni tribes. Leveraging his popularity in Iraq, Dabash was able to bring thousands of men into the IAI.[ii]The group initially sought to expel all foreign troops and influence, namely American and Iranian, from Iraq. In this vein, the group largely targeted U.S. coalition forces and was known for kidnapping and executing Western nationals from 2003 to 2011.[iii]

Following the establishment of the Iraqi provisional government and the appointment of Nouri al-Maliki as Prime Minister in 2005, the IAI articulated a new set of goals. In addition to ridding the country of foreign influence, the IAI now sought to depose Prime Minister Maliki and re-integrate Sunnis and Ba’athists into the Iraqi political process (excluding those directly involved in the Hussein regime).[iv]Despite its aversion to the Iraqi government, the IAI allegedly engaged in communications with government officials. In December 2005, the IAI and the Mujahideen Army (MA), another armed group in Iraq, allegedly reached out to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to encourage him to include more resistance groups in Iraq’s political process.[v]Also in 2005, former Iraqi Electricity Minister Ayhamal-Samarra'i claimed that he had met with the leadership of the IAI and the MA to discuss the possibility of bringing the two groups into the political process. Both the IAI and MA denied that the meetings had occurred or that they had authorized anyone to speak with Samarra'i.[vi

Since its founding in 2003, the IAI’s relationship with Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) has varied between one of cooperation and one of open hostility. In the years immediately following the 2003 U.S. invasion, AQI and IAI worked closely with one another. IAI founder Sheikh Ahmed al-Dabash claimed to be like a “brother to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,” the leader of AQI.[vii]However, strains soon began to appear in the IAI-AQI relationship. IAI members grew frustrated with AQI’s tactics, which resulted in large numbers of civilian casualties.  In May 2007, the IAI joined with Ansar al-Sunnah Shariah and the Mujahideen Army to form the Reformation and Jihad Front (RJF), an anti-AQI and anti-U.S. umbrella organization. In November 2007, the RJF joined with Hamas Iraq and the Islamic Front of the Iraqi Resistance (JAMI) to form the Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance (PCIR).[viii]In coordination with the 1920s Revolutionary Brigades, the Mujahideen Army, and later the RJF, the IAI began to militarily oppose AQI in 2007.[ix]Many clashes occurred between the IAI and AQI, most notably in April 2007 when AQI fighters killed more than 30 IAI militants who had refused to join AQI.[x]There is some evidence to suggest that the IAI, or at least some elements within it, participated in the 2006-2007 Sunni Awakening. IAI militants supposedly joined the Awakening Councils to fight AQI and possibly even negotiated with the U.S.[xi]However, IAI leadership has always denied these accounts. On June 7, 2007, the IAI announced it had signed a ceasefire with AQI; however, fighting between the two groups appears to have restarted by the November 2007.[xii]

Following the U.S. withdrawal in late 2011, the IAI officially disbanded. Many of the group’s former leaders and members subsequently established a political organization, which they called the Sunni Popular Movement. The Sunni Popular Movement sought to split Iraq into three federal units: a Sunni state, a Kurdish state, and a Shiite state.[xiii]The Sunni Popular Movement does not appear to have participated in any major elections. Another set of former IAI fighters joined the tribal police forces, known as the Sahwa, in order to fight the Islamic State (IS). 

The IAI was re-activated in December 2013, but the repatriation of IAI members to other organizations between 2011-2013 made the new IAI a significantly smaller and weaker organization than it had been in the mid to late 2000s.[xiv]Upon its remobilization, the IAI initially reached out to the Iraqi government with three demands: (1) the resignation of Prime Minister Maliki; (2) the breaking up of Iraq into three autonomous regions, one for each the Sunnis, the Shiites, and the Kurds; and (3) compensation for the 1.5 million Iraqis that the group claimed were killed by the Americans and Maliki regime. The IAI gave the government an ultimatum: comply with these demands, or the group would join the Sunni insurgency and march on Baghdad. Unsurprisingly, the government did not accept the IAI’s terms.[xv]

Despite its pledge to join the Sunni insurgency in 2014, the IAI’s relationship with the Islamic State (IS), the most powerful Sunni insurgent group in Iraq at the time, was far from harmonious. Although the IAI fought alongside IS in the summer and fall of 2014, the groups were ideologically dissimilar.[xvi]While IS sought the creation of a radical transcontinental Islamist caliphate, the IAI pushed for a federation of autonomous Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish states within the current borders of Iraq that would be ruled by a “softer” and more “modern” version of Shariah Law.[xvii]Moreover, the IAI disliked IS’s use of violence against civilians and publicly denounced its brutal tactics and targeting of Iraqi citizens. Nonetheless, the two groups united behind the common cause of overthrowing the Iraqi government and expelling foreign troops from the region.[xviii]However, in mid-2014, IAI leader Sheikh Ahmed al-Dabash hinted that there might soon come a time when the IAI would feel obligated to turn its weapons on the Islamic State. When or how this might happen was unclear.[xix]

The last known activity of the group was in 2014. As of March 2019, the IAI is believed to likely be inactive. 



[i]“Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI).” GlobalSecurity.org, Date unknown. Web. 3 August 2015; Abedin, Manhan. "Before Counterinsurgency: Post-2005 Provincial Election Terrorist Trends in Iraq." Jamestown Foundation, 10 March 2005, p. 10; Abdel-Hamid, Hoda. "Inside the Islamic Army of Iraq." Al Jazeera, 20 November 2006. Web. 20 May 2010.

[ii]Kohlmann, Evan. "Exclusive:  An Interview with The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI)." NEFA Foundation, July 2008. Web. 20 May 2010; Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.

[iii]Abdel-Hamid, Hoda. "Inside the Islamic Army of Iraq." Al Jazeera, 20 November 2006. Web. 1 June 2010.

[iv]Bayoumi, Alaa & Harding, Leah. “Mapping Iraq’s fighting groups: a synopsis of the various fighters in Iraq group by religion, culture, region and political agendas.” Al Jazeera, 27 June 2014. 17 July 2014; “Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI).” GlobalSecurity.org, Date unknown. Web. 3 August 2015.

[v]"Mujahideen Army." National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, 1 March 2008. Web. 28 January 2010.

[vi]Iraqi 'resistance' rejects elections, some not to target election centres." Aljazeera, 27 February 2010.

[vii]Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.

[viii]Bakier, Abdul Hameed. “Iraq’s Islamic Mujahideen Profiled by Jihadi Websites: Part Two.” Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Focus 5(41), 3 December 2008. Web. 23 July 2015.

[ix]Kohlmann, Evan. "Exclusive:  An Interview with The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI)." NEFA Foundation, July 2008. Web. 20 May 2010; Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015; Roggio, Bill. "Islamic Army of Iraq Splits with Al Qaeda." Long War Journal, April 2007. Web. 9 Jan 2012.

[x]Ridolfo, Kathleen. "Iraq: Al-Qaeda Tactics Lead to Splits Among Insurgents." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 17 April 2007. Web. 30 May 2010.

[xi]“Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI).” GlobalSecurity.org, Date unknown. Web. 3 August 2015.

[xii]“Sunni group attacks al-Qaeda base.” BBC News, 10 Nov. 2007. Web. 6 Aug. 2015.

[xiii]“Islamic Army in Iraq.” SITE Intelligence Group Enterprise, Date unknown. Web. 5 Aug. 2015; al-Tamimi, Aymenn Jawad. “Iraq crisis: Key players in Sunni rebellion.” BBC News 1 July 2014. Web. 5 Aug 2015.

[xiv]“Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI).” Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, 1 July 2014. Web. 2 Aug 2014; al-Tamini, Aymenn. “Islamic Army of Iraq.” Jihad Intel, Date unknown. Web. 5 Aug. 2015.

[xv]Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015; al-Tamimi, Aymenn Jawad. “Iraq crisis: Key players in Sunni rebellion.” BBC News 1 July 2014. Web. 5 Aug 2015.

[xvi]Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.

[xvii]Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015; “Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI).” GlobalSecurity.org, Date unknown. Web. 3 August 2015.

[xviii]Islamist Websites Monitor 95. "Jihad Organizations IN Iraq Establish New Front." The Middle East Media Research Institute, 4 May 2007. Web. 9 January 2012; Roggio, Bill. "Islamic Army of Iraq Splits with Al Qaeda." Long War Journal, April 2007. Web. 9 Jan 2012.

[xix]Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.

 

Organizational Structure

Leadership, Name Changes, Size Estimates, Resources, Geographic Locations

    Leadership
  • Leadership
  • Sheikh Ahmed al-Dabash (2003-Present)
  • Ishmael Jubouri (2004-Unknown)

Leadership

This section describes various leaders, their deputies, and other important officials in the militant organization.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Dabash (2003-Present)

Dabash was one of the founding leaders of the IAI and acted as the group’s spokesman when dealing with the international media.  He was on the U.S.’s Most Wanted list in Iraq for much of the late 2000s.[i] In May 2006, Dabashwas captured by U.S. and Iraqi government forces. He subsequently spent two years in an Iraqi prison under interrogation about his alleged involvement in various terrorist attacks.[ii]As of March 2019, it is unclear if he is still active in the group. A lack of IAI activity in recent years suggests that the group itself is no longer active. 

 



[i]Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.

[ii]American Forces Press Service. “Terrorist Leaders Captured in Iraq; Detainees Released.” U.S. Department of Defense, 31 May 2006. Web. 10 Aug. 2015; Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.

 

Ishmael Jubouri (2004-Unknown)

Jubouri was a leader of Islamic Army in Iraq; however, little is known about his specific role in the group. He was a Sunni tribal member in central Iraq and supported increasing the frequency of the group’s attacks.[i]As of March 2019, it is unclear if he is still active in the group. A lack of IAI activity in recent years suggests that the group itself is no longer active.

 



[i]Spinner, Jack. "Marines Widen Their Net South of Baghdad." The Washington Post, 27 November 2004. Web. 3 August 2012.

 

    Name Changes
  • Name Changes
  • Size Estimates
  • Resources
  • Geographic Locations

Name Changes

There are no recorded name changes for this group. 

Size Estimates

July 2007: 10,400 (Globe and Mail)[i]

September 2007: Believed to be the largest armed group in Iraq (Al Jazeera)[ii]

Although the number of IAI fighters post-2013 has not been reported, sources generally agree that the IAI is significantly smaller now than it had been in the mid and late 2000s. Many of its fighters are believed to have joined the tribal police forces known as the Sahwa to combat the Islamic State in 2012 and 2013.[iii]



[i] "Armed Groups within Iraq." The Globe and Mail, 13 July 2007, p. A10.

[ii] "Iraq Tribal Leader Offers US Talks." Al Jazeera, 13 September 2007. Web. 26 June 2010

[iii] “Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI).” Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, 1 July 2014. Web. 2 Aug 2014; al-Tamini, Aymenn. “Islamic Army of Iraq.” Jihad Intel, Date unknown. Web. 5 Aug. 2015.

 

Resources

The IAI had extensive tribal connections, but little was known about where its specific resources came from.[i]

 



[i]Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.

 

Geographic Locations

Disclaimer: This is a partial list of where the militant organization has bases and where it operates. This does not include information on where the group conducts major attacks or has external influences.

 

The IAI was historically most active in the Diyala and Saladin provinces. Since 2013, the group also participated in anti-government violence in Anbar province and Northern Iraq.[i

In April 2005, the group announced the creation of the al-Aqsa Support Division, which was established to support the Palestinians in their fight against Israel. However, it was unclear if any IAI troops were ever routed to the division or if it was even ever deployed to Palestine.[ii]

 



[i]al-Tamimi, Aymenn Jawad. “Iraq crisis: Key players in Sunni rebellion.” BBC News 1 July 2014. Web. 5 Aug 2015.

[ii]“Islamic Army in Iraq.” START, Date unknown. Web. 7 Aug. 2015.

 

Strategy

Ideology, Aims, Political Activities, Targets, and Tactics

    Ideology and Goals
  • Ideology and Goals
  • Political Activities
  • Targets and Tactics

Ideology and Goals

  • Nationalist
  • Sunni
  • Islamist

The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI) was a nationalist, Sunni Islamist organization. Although the majority of its membership was Sunni, the group also had Ba’athist and Shiite members.[i] The group was relatively moderate in its ideology; it sought to establish an Iraqi federation with three autonomous regions—one Shiite, one Kurdish, and one Sunni—that would be unified under a national government which implemented a “softer” version of Islamic law.[ii] In 2014, IAI founder and spokesman SheikhAhmed al-Dabash summed up the group’s concept of Islamic law as such: “We oppose the distorted version of Sharia that they [the Islamic State] endorse. Islam is a modern religion and has a lot of justice and mercy for everyone. There is no contradiction between civil development and our interpretation of Sharia law.”[iii] In line with this vision of Islam, the IAI strongly condemned tactics that targeted civilians, whether these civilians were Sunni, Shiite, or of any other religion.[iv]

In addition to its long-term goal of establishing an Iraqi federation, the IAI also had the more immediate aim of expelling foreign troops and influence from Iraq. The group primarily sought to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq from 2003 until 2011. The IAI also targeted Shiite militias and Iraqi government troops because it believed they were Iranian proxies in Iraq.[v] In 2013, the group adopted a more comprehensive political agenda. The group called for the resignation of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (up until he left office in summer 2014), as well as the inclusion of Kurds and Sunnis in the political process. The IAI also requested compensation for the 1.5 million civilians that it claimed had been killed by U.S. and Iraqi forces between 2003 and 2013.[vi]

 



[i]Kohlmann, Evan. "Exclusive:  An Interview with The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI)." NEFA Foundation, July 2008. 20 May 2010.

[ii]Bayoumi, Alaa & Harding, Leah. “Mapping Iraq’s fighting groups: a synopsis of the various fighters in Iraq group by religion, culture, region and political agendas.” Al Jazeera, 27 June 2014. 17 July 2014; Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015; al-Tamini, Aymenn. “Islamic Army of Iraq.” Jihad Intel, Date unknown. Web. 5 Aug. 2015.

[iii]Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.

[iv]Islamist Websites Monitor 95. "Jihad Organizations IN Iraq Establish New Front." The Middle East Media Research Institute, 4 May 2007. Web. 9 January 2012; Roggio, Bill. "Islamic Army of Iraq Splits with Al Qaeda." Long War Journal, April 2007. Web. 9 Jan 2012.

[v]Al-Salhy, Suadad. “Iraq Sunni Insurgents keep fighting after U.S. pullout.” Reuters, 29 February 2012. Web. 1 July 2014.

[vi]Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.

 

Political Activities

Despite its aversion to the Iraqi government, the IAI allegedly engaged in communications with government officials. In December 2005, the IAI and the Mujahideen Army (MA), another armed group in Iraq, allegedly reached out to Iraqi Prime Minister Jalal Talabani to encourage him to include more resistance groups in Iraq’s political process.[i]Also in 2005, former Iraqi Electricity Minister Ayhamal-Samarra'i claimed that he had met with the leadership of the IAI and the Mujahideen Army to discuss the possibility of ceasing hostilities and bringing the two groups into the political process. Both groups denied that the meetings had occurred.[ii]

Following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011, the IAI demobilized and its leaders and many of its members went on to create the Sunni Popular Movement. Much like the IAI, the Sunni Popular Movement called for the establishment of an Iraqi federation comprised of three autonomous regions – one for the Sunnis, the Shiites, and the Kurds – which would be presided over by a moderate Islamist central government.[iii]While the Sunni Popular Movement did not take part in any elections, it did participate in and help coordinate the anti-government protests that occurred across Iraq in 2012-2013.[iv]  The MA and other Iraqi Islamist groups condemned the IAI for joining the political process in this manner, which these groups believed to have amounted to cooperating with the Iraqi government.[v]

 



[i]"Mujahideen Army." National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, 1 March 2008. Web. 28 January 2010.

[ii]"Iraqi 'resistance' rejects elections, some not to target election centres." Aljazeera, 27 February 2010.

[iii]al-Tamimi, Aymenn Jawad. “Iraq crisis: Key players in Sunni rebellion.” BBC News 1 July 2014. Web. 5 Aug 2015.

[iv]Wing, Joel. “Understanding Iraq’s Protest Movements, An Interview with Kirk H. Sowell, Editor of Inside Iraqi Politics.” Musings on Iraq, 7 May 2013. Web. 7 Aug. 2015.

[v]al-Tamimi, Aymenn Jawad. “Iraq crisis: Key players in Sunni rebellion.” BBC News 1 July 2014. Web. 5 Aug 2015.

 

Targets and Tactics

From 2003 to 2011, the IAI predominantly targeted U.S. coalition troops. It also attacked Shiite militias and Iraqi government troops, both of which it believed were little more than Iranian proxies in Iraq.[i]From 2006-2007, the IAI also reportedly targeted Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) operatives, although the extent to which it did so remains unclear.[ii]Since re-forming in 2013, the IAI directed the majority of its attacks against the Iraqi army and police forces. In 2014, the group’s founder and spokesman, Sheikh Ahmed al-Dabash, suggested that the IAI might turn its weapons on the Islamic State (IS), its former ally.[iii]

Relatively little was known about the IAI’s tactics. The group was connected to attacks that utilized improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs). The IAI claimed responsibility for shooting down U.S. coalition and Iraqi government helicopters.[iv]In other attacks, the group took Western hostages. Some of these hostages were released, while others were executed.[v]

 



[i]Abdel-Hamid, Hoda. "Inside the Islamic Army of Iraq." Al Jazeera, 20 November 2006. Web. 1 June 2010; "Statement from the Islamic Army of Iraq." NEFA Foundation, 2 April 2008. Web. 1 June 2010.

[ii]Roggio, Bill. "Islamic Army of Iraq Splits with Al Qaeda." Long War Journal, April 2007. Web. 9 Jan 2012; Ridolfo, Kathleen. "Iraq: Al-Qaeda Tactics Lead to Splits Among Insurgents." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 17 April 2007. Web. 30 May 2010.

[iii]Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.

[iv]Jawad al-Tamimi, Aymenn. “Interview with the leader of Iraq’s Jaysh al-Mujahideen: Abd al-Hakim al-Nuaimi.” 17 March 2014. Web. 22 July 2015.

[v]"9 March 2005 Headlines." United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), 9 March 2005. Web. 30 May 2010; "Reports on Incidents of Terrorism 2005." NCTC, 11 April 2006, p. 42; "A Chronology of Significant International Terrorism for 2004." 27 April 2005, p. 39; Buel, Meredith. "Deadly Attack on US Military Base Near Mosul Kills 24." Voice of America, December 2004. Web. 29 May 2010; Karacs, Imre. "French Hostages Held Over Scarf Ban," Sunday Times, LexisNexis Academic, 29 August 2004, p. 23.

 

Major Attacks

First Attacks, Largest Attacks, Notable Attacks

Major Attacks

Disclaimer: These are some selected major attacks in the militant organization's history. It is not a comprehensive listing, but captures some of the most famous attacks or turning points during the campaign.

  1. June 10, 2014: The IAI fought alongside the Islamic State (IS) when it captured Mosul from the Iraqi army on June 10, 2014. (unknown casualties)[i]
  2. February 22, 2014: The Islamic Army of Iraq claimed that it and the Mujahideen Army had coordinated an attack on government forces near al-Karma.  The groups purportedly downed a government helicopter during the fighting. (unknown casualties)[ii]
  3. January 5, 2009: The IAI claimed responsibility for an IED attack at a gas station in the Karradah district of Baghdad. (0 killed, 4 wounded)[iii]
  4. November 17, 2008:  The IAI claimed to have shot down a U.S. helicopter in Mosul.  The U.S. military asserted the helicopter crashed in non-conflict related circumstances. (unknown casualties)[iv]
  5. November 9, 2007: The IAI killed 18 AQI militants when it attacked an AQI-held compound near the city of Samarra.  During the attack, 15 IAI fighters were also killed and 16 AQI fighters were captured. (33 killed, unknown wounded).[v]
  6. April 2007: Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) militants attacked and killed 30 IAI fighters after they refused to pledge allegiance to AQI. (30+ killed, unknown wounded)[vi]
  7. November 2005: IAI kidnapped U.S. security contractor Ronald Alan Schulz and demanded that all Iraqi prisoners held by the U.S. be released.  When the U.S. failed to meet its demands, the IAI released a video of Schulz’s execution. (1 killed, 0 wounded).[vii]
  8. June 23, 2005: Ansar al-Sunnah, the Mujahideen Army, and the IAI claimed responsibility for two simultaneous vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attacks in different areas of Bagdad in which seven civilians and three police officers were killed. Ten other civilians were also wounded in the attack. (10 killed, 10 wounded)[viii]
  9. March 24, 2005: The IAI claimed responsibility for a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) that detonated at a city entrance checkpoint in Ar Ramadi, Anbar. The attack killed 11 Iraqi police commandos and wounded 3 Iraqi civilians and 2 U.S. Marines. (11 killed, 5 wounded)[ix]
  10. August 2004: The IAI took two French journalists hostage in the area between Baghdad and Najaf, demanding that the French parliament lift its ban on Islamic headscarves in public schools. The two journalists were released unharmed in December 2004. (0 killed, 0 wounded)[x]


[i]Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.

[ii]Jawad al-Tamimi, Aymenn. “Interview with the leader of Iraq’s Jaysh al-Mujahideen: Abd al-Hakim al-Nuaimi.” 17 March 2014. Web. 22 July 2015.

[iii]“200901050005.” Global Terrorism Database, START, Date Unknown. Web. 10 Aug 2015.

[iv]"Reports on Incidents of Terrorism 2005." NCTC, 11 April 2006, p. 42.         

[v]"Statement from the Islamic Army of Iraq." NEFA Foundation, 2 April 2008. Web. 1 June 2010.

[vi]Ridolfo, Kathleen. "Iraq: Al-Qaeda Tactics Lead to Splits Among Insurgents." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 17 April 2007. Web. 30 May 2010.

[vii]“US Hostage Killed, Iraq Militant Group Says.” NBC News, 8 Dec. 2005. Web. 10 Aug. 2015.

[viii]"Reports on Incidents of Terrorism 2005." NCTC, 11 April 2006, p. 42.

[ix]"Reports on Incidents of Terrorism 2005." NCTC, 11 April 2006, p. 42.         

[x]Karacs, Imre. "French Hostages Held Over Scarf Ban," Sunday Times, LexisNexis Academic, 29 August 2004, p. 23. 

Buel, Meredith. "Deadly Attack on US Military Base Near Mosul Kills 24." Voice of America, December 2004. Web. 29 May 2010.               

 

Interactions

Foreign Designations and Listings, Community Relations, Relations with Other Groups, State Sponsors and External Influences

    Designated/Listed
  • Designated/Listed
  • Community Relations
  • Relationships with Other Groups
  • State Sponsors and External Influences

Designated/Listed

The IAI was not designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S., EU, or UN. 

 

Community Relations

The relationship between the IAI and the communities in which it resided is unknown.

Relationships with Other Groups

The IAI had a long-standing alliance with the Mujahideen Army (MA). Although the groups began to work together in 2004, they did not officially announce their operational cooperation until 2005.[i]On May 2, 2007, the MA, the IAI, and Ansar al-Sunnah Shariah announced the formation of a new umbrella organization, the Reformation and Jihad Front (RJF), that would oppose AQI and seek to expel U.S. troops and Iranian influence from Iraq.[ii]In November 2007, the RJF joined with Hamas Iraq and the Islamic Front of the Iraqi Resistance (JAMI) to form the Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance (PCIR).[iii]However, tensions rose between the MA and the IAI after the IAI decided to join the political process in Iraq following the U.S. withdrawal.[iv]The MA denounced the IAI not only for what it perceived to be participation in corrupt political system controlled by the U.S. and Iran, but also for the IAI’s alleged absence from the Sunni insurgency in western Iraq. The IAI repudiated the latter claim, insisting that the MA must not be in the field if it could not see the IAI’s presence there. Despite these tensions, however, the two groups still cooperated. They purportedly carried out a joint attack on Iraqi Security Forces outside of al-Karma on February 22, 2014.[v]

The IAI and Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) both cooperated and clashed between 2003 and 2007. In the years immediately following the 2003 U.S. invasion, AQI and IAI worked closely with one another. One of the founders of the IAI, Sheikh Ahmed al-Dabash, claimed to be like a “brother to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,” the leader of AQI.[vi]However, by 2006 strains began to appear in the IAI-AQI relationship, largely because the IAI opposed the high levels of civilian casualties that resulted from AQI attacks.  In May 2007, the IAI joined with Ansar al-Islam and the MA to form the Reformation and Jihad Front (RJF), an anti-AQI and  anti-U.S. umbrella organization. In coordination with the 1920s Revolutionary Brigades, the MA, and later the RJF, the IAI began to militarily oppose AQI in 2007.[vii]Many clashes occurred between the IAI and AQI, most notably in April 2007 when AQI killed more than 30 IAI fighters because they refused to swear allegiance to AQI.[viii]Additionally, there was some evidence to suggest that the IAI, or at least elements within it, participated in the 2006-2007 Sunni Awakening. IAI militants supposedly joined the Awakening Councils to fight AQI and possibly even negotiate with the U.S.[ix]IAI leadership always denied these accounts. On June 7, 2007, the IAI announced it signed a ceasefire with AQI; however, fighting between the two groups likely restarted by November 2007.[x]

Although not openly enemies, the IAI’s relationship with AQI’s successor,the Islamic State (IS), was not always entirely cooperative. Although the IAI fought alongside IS in the summer and fall of 2014, the groups were ideologically dissimilar.[xi]While IS sought the creation of a radical transcontinental Islamist caliphate, the IAI pushed for a federation of autonomous Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish states within the current borders of Iraq that would be ruled by a “softer” and more “modern” version of Shariah Law.[xii]Additionally, the IAI publicly denounced IS’s brutal tactics and targeting of Iraqi citizens. Nonetheless, the two groups shared the common goal of overthrowing the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government and expelling foreign troops from the region.[xiii]However, in mid-2014, the IAI’s founder and spokesman, Sheikh Ahmed al-Dabash, hinted that there would soon come a time when the IAI would feel obligated to turn its weapons on the Islamic State. Dabash declined to elaborate on the statement.[xiv]

 



[i]Roggio, Bill. "Dispatches from the jihadi belt." The Long War Journal, 24 June 2005. Web. 29 January 2010; Adnan, Sinan & Reese, Aaron. “Middle East Security Report 24: Beyond the Islamic State: Iraq’s Sunni Insurgency.” Understanding War, October 2014. Web. 23 July 2015.

[ii]Bakier, Abdul Hameed. “Iraq’s Islamic Mujahideen Profiled by Jihadi Websites: Part Two.” Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Focus 5(41), 3 December 2008. Web. 23 July 2015; Gabbay, Michael. "The 2008 U.S. elections and Sunni insurgent dynamics in Iraq." CTC Sentinel, 1(10), September 2008. Web. 29 January 2010.

[iii]Bakier, Abdul Hameed. “Iraq’s Islamic Mujahideen Profiled by Jihadi Websites: Part Two.” Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Focus 5(41), 3 December 2008. Web. 23 July 2015.

[iv]Jawad al-Tamimi, Aymenn. “Interview with the leader of Iraq’s Jaysh al-Mujahideen: Abd al-Hakim al-Nuaimi.” 17 March 2014. Web. 22 July 2015; Adnan, Sinan & Reese, Aaron. “Middle East Security Report 24: Beyond the Islamic State: Iraq’s Sunni Insurgency.” Understanding War, October 2014. Web. 23 July 2015.

[v]Jawad al-Tamimi, Aymenn. “Interview with the leader of Iraq’s Jaysh al-Mujahideen: Abd al-Hakim al-Nuaimi.” 17 March 2014. Web. 22 July 2015.

[vi]Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.

[vii]Kohlmann, Evan. "Exclusive:  An Interview with The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI)." NEFA Foundation, July 2008. Web. 20 May 2010; Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015; Roggio, Bill. "Islamic Army of Iraq Splits with Al Qaeda." Long War Journal, April 2007. Web. 9 Jan 2012.

[viii]Ridolfo, Kathleen. "Iraq: Al-Qaeda Tactics Lead to Splits Among Insurgents." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 17 April 2007. Web. 30 May 2010.

[ix]“Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI).” GlobalSecurity.org, Date unknown. Web. 3 August 2015.

[x]“Sunni group attacks al-Qaeda base.” BBC News, 10 Nov. 2007. Web. 6 Aug. 2015.

[xi]Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.

[xii]Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015; “Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI).” GlobalSecurity.org, Date unknown. Web. 3 August 2015.

[xiii]Islamist Websites Monitor 95. "Jihad Organizations IN Iraq Establish New Front." The Middle East Media Research Institute, 4 May 2007. Web. 9 January 2012; Roggio, Bill. "Islamic Army of Iraq Splits with Al Qaeda." Long War Journal, April 2007. Web. 9 Jan 2012.

[xiv]Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.

 

State Sponsors and External Influences

The IAI had no known external influences; however, the group was largely motivated by the foreign presence in Iraq, namely that of the United States and Iran.[i]

 



[i]Abdel-Hamid, Hoda. "Inside the Islamic Army of Iraq." Al Jazeera, 20 November 2006. Web. 1 June 2010.

 

Maps

The project develops a series of interactive diagrams that “map” relationships among groups and show how those relationships change over time. The user can change map settings to display different features (e.g., leadership changes), adjust the time scale, and trace individual groups.

Evolving Militant Interactions

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Last updated March 2019