Ansar al-Sunna (AS)

From: "Chapter 8; Foreign Terrorist Organizations," Country Reports on Terrorism 2005, US Department of State, April 30, 2006.

a.k.a. Ansar al-Islam;
Ansar Al-Sunna Army;
Devotees of Islam;
Followers of Islam in Kurdistan;
Helpers of Islam;
Jaish Ansar Al-Sunna;
Jund Al-Islam;
Kurdish Taliban;
Kurdistan Supporters of Islam;
Partisans of Islam;
Soldiers of God;
Soldiers of Islam;
Supporters of Islam in Kurdistan

Ansar al-Sunna (AS) is a Salafi terrorist group whose goals include expelling the U.S.-led Coalition from Iraq, establishing an independent Islamic state in Iraq, and creating an Islamic state in the region. This amorphous group has changed its name several times over the years and was last known as Ansar al-Islam. The creation of AS was announced in the fall of 2003, when a statement was posted to the Internet calling all extremists in Iraq to unite under the new name. The group has subsequently posted to the Internet all claims of attack under the name AS.

AS is closely allied with the al-Qaida central leadership and other terrorist groups in Iraq to include Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group, al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI). Some members of AS trained in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan, and the group provided safe haven to al-Qaida fighters before Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Since OIF, AS has become one of the leading groups engaged in anti-Coalition attacks in Iraq and has maintained a robust propaganda campaign.

AS continues to conduct attacks against a wide range of targets including Coalition forces, the Iraqi Government and Iraqi security forces, and Kurdish and Shia figures. AS members worked closely with both al-Qaida operatives and associates in AQI. AS claimed responsibility for many high profile attacks, including the simultaneous suicide bombings of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Kurdistan Democratic Party offices in Irbil in February 2004, the bombing of the U.S. military dining facility in Mosul in December 2004, and numerous kidnappings, executions, and assassinations.

Precise numbers are unknown, but believed to number between 500 to 1,000 members.

Location/Area of Operation
Primarily central and northern Iraq.

External Aid
The group receives funding, training, equipment, and combat support from al-Qaida, and is backed by other terrorists throughout the world. AS has operational and logistical support cells in Europe.