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Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad

Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad
(Organization of Monotheism and Jihad)
Participant in the Iraq War
A flag that was in use by Jama'at al-Tawhid wal Jihad in late 2004
Active 1999[1]–17 October 2004[2]
Leaders Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
Headquarters Fallujah
Area of operations Iraq, limited in Jordan
Became Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn (aka Al-Qaeda in Iraq)
Allies Ansar al-Islam
Opponents Multinational force in Iraq,
Iraq (Iraqi security forces, Kurdish and Shia militias),
United Nations
Battles and wars Iraqi insurgency

Jama'at al-Islamic State (IS).


  • Origins 1
  • Ideology and motivation 2
  • Goals and tactics in Jordan and Iraq 3
  • Involvement in the Iraq War 4
  • Activities 5
    • Attacks 5.1
    • Inciting sectarian violence 5.2
    • Beheading/killing non-Iraqi hostages 5.3
  • U.S. fighting Jama'at 6
  • Legacy 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a Jordanian Jihadist who had traveled to Afghanistan to fight in the Soviet-Afghan War, but he arrived after the departure of the Soviet troops and soon returned to his homeland. He eventually returned to Afghanistan, running an Islamic militant training camp near Herat.

A report released by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in mid-2014 describes Al-Zarqawi as starting his jihadist group Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, with Jordanian and other Sunni Jihadist militants, in 1999 in Afghanistan with its training camp in Herat, Afghanistan, and with "a small amount of seed money" from Usama bin Laden "which continued until 9/11".[1]

Ideology and motivation

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's interpretation of Islamic takfir — accusing another Muslim of heresy and thereby justifying his killing — was extreme, which caused friction between him and Osama bin Laden.[1] On his first meeting with Bin Laden in 1999, Zarqawi reportedly declared: "Shiites should be executed".[8]

Zarqawi's political motivation came partly from what he considered U.N.'s "gift" of Palestine "to the Jews so they can rape the land and humiliate our people",[9] partly, but connected with the former, from what he considered (U.N.'s support for) (American) oppressors of Iraq[9] and the consequent "humiliation [of] our nation".[10]

Goals and tactics in Jordan and Iraq

Al-Zarqawi started the group with the intention of overthrowing the 'apostate' Kingdom of Jordan,[1] which he considered to be un-Islamic according to the four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence. After toppling Jordan's monarchy, presumably he would turn to the rest of the Levant.[1]

For these purposes he developed numerous contacts and affiliates in several countries. Although it has not been verified, his network may have been involved in the late 1999 plot to bomb the Millennium celebrations in the United States and Jordan. Al-Zarqawi and his operatives are held responsible by the US for the assassination of US diplomat Laurence Foley in Jordan in 2002.[11]

A pair of armed anti-American insurgents in Iraq in 2006

Within a half year after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Zarqawi was a household name for brutal beheadings and a suicide bombing campaign in Iraq against Shiite religious targets and Sunni civilians.[1]

JTJ's tactics relied heavily on suicide bombings, often using car bombs, but also included targeted kidnappings, the planting of improvised explosive devices, and mortar attacks. Beginning in late June 2004, JTJ conducted urban guerrilla-style attacks using rocket-propelled grenades and small arms. They also gained worldwide notoriety for beheading Iraqi and foreign hostages and distributing video recordings of these acts on the Internet.

The group targeted the Iraqi Security Forces and those facilitating the occupation, Iraqi interim officials, Iraqi Shia and Kurdish political and religious figures, the country's Shia Muslim civilians, foreign civilian contractors, and United Nations and humanitarian workers.[12]

Involvement in the Iraq War


Following the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan, al-Zarqawi moved westward into Iraq, where he reportedly received medical treatment in Baghdad for an injured leg.

Al-Zarqawi was in Baghdad from May until late November 2002, when he traveled to Iran and northeastern Iraq.[13] The U.S. 2006 Senate Report on Pre-war Intelligence on Iraq concluded: "Postwar information indicates that Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zarqawi and that the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward al-Zarqawi."[13]

Following the March 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, JTJ developed into an expanding militant network for the purpose of resisting the coalition occupation forces and their Iraqi allies. It included some of the remnants of Ansar al-Islam and a growing number of foreign fighters. Many foreign fighters arriving in Iraq were initially not associated with JTJ, but once they were in the country they became dependent on al-Zarqawi's local contacts.[12]



The UN headquarters building in Baghdad after the Canal Hotel bombing, on 22 August 2003
Alternative Flag
Car bombings were a common form of attack in Iraq during the Coalition occupation

After in March 2003 a U.S.-led coalition had invaded Iraq and had set up a Provisional Authority to rule Iraq, and insurgency against that rule had emerged, JTJ took responsibility for, or was blamed for, dozens of insurgent attacks in 17 months:

Inciting sectarian violence

Nick Berg, seated in front of five men, before his beheading. The terrorist behind him, apparently al Zarqawi, is the one who beheaded him.

Alleged sectarian attacks by the organization included the al-Qaida in Iraq,[25][26] with Al-Zarqawi purportedly declaring an all-out war on Shias[27][28] while claiming responsibility for the Shia mosque bombings.[29]

Beheading/killing non-Iraqi hostages

Beheading of Jack Hensley
  • May 7, 2004: Nick Berg, American civilian beheaded. Presumably claimed by Zarqawi and his men.[19] A video of the ceremony was published on Internet; the CIA said it was highly likely that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi personally had wielded the knife[30]
  • June 22, 2004: Kim Sun-il, South Korean civilian, executed by beheading.
  • July 8, 2004: Ivaylo Kepov, Bulgarian civilians beheaded[31]
  • August 2, 2004: Murat Yuce, Turkish civilian shot dead, by Abu Ayyub al-Masri.[19]
  • September 13, 2004: Durmus Kumdereli, Turkish civilian beheaded[19]
  • September 20, 2004: Eugene Armstrong, American civilian beheaded. Presumably claimed by Zarqawi and his men.[19] Some vague website claimed it was done by Al-Zarqawi personally[32]
  • September 21, 2004: Jack Hensley, American civilian beheaded. Presumably claimed by Zarqawi and his men.[19]
  • October 7, 2004: Kenneth Bigley, British civilian beheaded. Presumably claimed by Zarqawi and his men.[19]
  • October 29, 2004: Shosei Koda, Japanese civilian, who visited Iraq from Jordan to see what was actually going on, beheaded. An Islamist website that was used by al-Zarqawi's group had posted video of Koda shortly after the abduction.[33]

The Turk Aytullah Gezmen was also abducted by Jama'at, but released after "repenting."

U.S. fighting Jama'at

In September 2004, the U.S. conducted many airstrikes targeting Zarqawi, calling the catching of Zarqawi "highest priority".[34]


U.S. Navy Seabees in Fallujah, November 2004. Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad fought U.S. and coalition forces during the Iraq War.

The group officially pledged allegiance to Mesopotamia").[2][5][6] That same month, the group, now popularly referred to as Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), kidnapped and killed Japanese citizen Shosei Koda. In November, al-Zarqawi's network was the main target of the US Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, but its leadership managed to escape the American siege and subsequent storming of the city.

The Lebanese-Palestinian militant group Fatah al-Islam, which was defeated by Lebanese government forces during the 2007 Lebanon conflict, was linked to AQI and led by al-Zarqawi's former companion who had fought alongside him in Iraq.[35] The group may have been linked to the little-known group called "Tawhid and Jihad in Syria",[36] and may have influenced the Palestinian resistance group in Gaza called Tawhid and Jihad Brigades.[37]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "The War between ISIS and al-Qaeda for Supremacy of the Global Jihadist Movement" (PDF).   (pages 1-2)
  2. ^ a b c  
  3. ^  
  4. ^ a b c "Guide: Armed groups in Iraq".  
  5. ^ a b "Zarqawi pledges allegiance to Osama".  
  6. ^ a b "Al-Zarqawi group vows allegiance to bin Laden".  
  7. ^  
  8. ^ The Short, Violent Life of Abu Musab al-ZarqawiMary Anne Weaver: . The Atlantic. 1 July 2006. retrieved 2 January 2015.
  9. ^ a b c 'The Insurgency'. Transcript from a TV program of FRONTLINE from 21 February 2006. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Al-Qaeda group claims Salim death". BBC News. 19 May 2004. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 
  11. ^  
  12. ^ a b c d e Gambill, Gary (16 December 2004). "Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi: A Biographical Sketch". Terrorism Monitor 2 (24): The Jamestown Foundation. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  13. ^ a b "Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Postwar Findings About Iraq’s WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and How They Compare with Prewar Assessments. 109th Congress, 2nd Session." (PDF).  (See III.G, Conclusions 5 and 6, p.109.)
  14. ^ Benson, Pam (April 7, 2004). "'"CIA: Zarqawi tape 'probably authentic. CNN. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  15. ^ Mroue, Bassem (6 June 2007). "Alleged Al Qaeda Militant Is Hanged". The Sun (Baghdad). AP. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  16. ^  
  17. ^  
  18. ^ "Who Is Abu Zarqawi?".  
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Fast facts about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi".  
  20. ^ "Car bomb kills 35 in Baghdad".  
  21. ^ "Leaders condemn Iraq church bombs".  
  22. ^  
  23. ^ "Iraq: 2004 overview".  
  24. ^ Aloul, Sahar (19 December 2005). "Zarqawi handed second death penalty in Jordan".  
  25. ^ Atwan, Abdel Bari (20 March 2006). "Al Qaeda's hand in tipping Iraq toward civil war".  
  26. ^ "'"Al Qaeda leader in Iraq 'killed by insurgents. ABC News. 1 May 2007. 
  27. ^ "Al-Zarqawi declares war on Iraqi Shia".  
  28. ^ "Another wave of bombings hit Iraq". International Herald Tribune. 15 September 2005. Archived from the original on 28 October 2007. 
  29. ^ Tavernise, Sabrina (17 September 2005). "20 die as insurgents in Iraq target Shiites". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 27 January 2008. 
  30. ^ "World | Middle East | 'Zarqawi' beheaded US man in Iraq". BBC News. May 13, 2004. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  31. ^ "Turkish hostage shot to death in Iraq".  
  32. ^ ‘Video: American Hostage Eugene Armstrong Beheaded’. Weblog ‘Outside the Beltway’, 20 September 2004. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  33. ^ "Beheaded Japanese to be flown home." CNN. November 1 2004. Retrieved on 25 October 2015.
  34. ^ Brian Ross (September 24, 2004). "Tracking Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi". ABC News. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  35. ^ "Fatah Islam: Obscure group emerges as Lebanon's newest security threat". International Herald Tribune. Associated Press. 20 May 2007. Archived from the original on 25 May 2007. 
  36. ^ "Al-Qaida inspired militant group calls on Syrians to kill country's president". International Herald Tribune. Associated Press. 28 May 2007. Retrieved 6 August 2007. 
  37. ^ "Palestine: Reporter is dead, claims terror group".  

External links

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