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 Ansar al-Islam

(Also known as: Ansar al-Islam Army, Ansar al-Sunna, Army of Ansar al-Islam, Devotees of Islam, Followers of Islam in Kurdistan, Jaish Ansar al-Islam, Jaish Ansar al-Sunna, Jund al-Islam, Kurdish Taliban, Kurdistan Supporters of Islam, Partisans of Islam, Protectors of Islam, Protectors of the Sunni Faith, Soldiers of God, Soldiers of Islam, Supporters of Islam in Kurdistan.)

Listed 27 March 2003, re-listed 27 March 2005, 24 March 2007, 14 March 2009, 9 March 2012 and 3 March 2015.

The following information is based on publicly available details about Ansar al-Islam (AAI).To the Australian Government's knowledge, these details are accurate and reliable and have been corroborated by classified information.

Basis for listing a terrorist organisation

Division 102 of the Criminal Code provides that for an organisation to be listed as a terrorist organisation, the Attorney-General must be satisfied on reasonable grounds that the organisation:

  1. is directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of a terrorist act; or
  2. advocates the doing of a terrorist act.

Details of the organisation

AAI is a Sunni Islamist militant group that operates mainly in the Kurdish areas in the north-west region of Iraq. It originally emerged from several smaller Kurdish Sunni extremist groups active within the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq. AAI was first proscribed on 27 March 2003, and was last re-listed as a proscribed group on 9 March 2012.

AAI is predominately comprised of Iraqis, some of whom are former intelligence and security personnel. However, AAI's ranks also include a number of Sunni Arab foreign fighters—predominately Yemenis and Saudis.

AAI is predominately comprised of Iraqis, some of whom are former intelligence and security personnel. However, AAI's ranks also include a number of Sunni Arab foreign fighters – predominately Yemenis and Saudis.

Terrorist activity of the organisation

AAI conducts attacks against, Shia, Kurdish and Iraqi government interests. AAI's attacks most commonly target Iraqi security forces using improvised explosive devices  and indirect fire.

Directly or indirectly engaged in the doing of terrorist acts

AAI has claimed responsibility through a video or media statement for the following attacks since AAI's last re-listing in 2012:

  • 10 August 2014: YouTube user 'Ansar al-Islam Front' posted a video of an attack on an Iraqi tank, claiming that the tank was destroyed and all crew on board were killed.
  • 22 June 2014: AAI posted a series of photographs on Twitter claiming to depict areas it had captured from Iraqi and Kurdish security forces.
  • 12 June 2014: AAI claimed responsibility on its official Twitter feed for 14 attacks against Iraqi and Kurdish military and police.
  • 1 January 2014: An AAI member posted a statement claiming eight attacks against Iraqi police and security forces during December 2013.
  • 23 June 2013: AAI claimed responsibility for 48 attacks against Iraqi security forces in Kirkuk province between 23 April and 29 May 2013. In its statement of responsibility, AAI claimed the attacks were revenge for a government raid on a Sunni protest camp in April 2013.
  • 1 July 2012: AAI posted a video showing the preparation and execution of a bombing against an Iraqi Federal Police patrol in Baghdad.

Fostering and advocating the doing of terrorist acts

AAI has released several statements since its last re-listing that advocate violent jihad and encourage Muslims to participate.

  • 1 July 2014: AAI released a statement for the holy month of Ramadan and congratulated all Muslims for the recent conquests in Iraq.
  • 6 November 2013: AAI responded to the formation of Sunni 'Sons of Iraq' militias to combat Sunni insurgents by releasing a statement reaffirming its commitment to jihad and stating that the 'Sons of Iraq' must be 'fought and eradicated'.
  • 13 June 2013: AAI released a documentary detailing the group's history, goals and operations. It re-stated AAI's plans to 'do jihad in order to bring back the Islamic Caliphate, and this means the globalism of jihad and its goal'.
  • 22 September 2012: AAI released a statement calling upon Muslims to kill those who insult the Prophet Muhammad, encouraging rocket attacks against Israel and congratulating extremists for attacks against US Embassies in Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen.

Conclusion

ASIO assesses AAI continues to directly and indirectly engage in preparing, planning, assisting in, advocating and fostering the doing of acts involving threats to human life and serious damage to property. This assessment is corroborated by information provided by reliable and credible intelligence sources, as well as by terrorist acts conducted by AAI.

In the course of pursuing its objectives in Iraq, AAI is known to have committed or threatened action:

  • that causes, or could cause, serious damage to property, the death of persons or endanger a person's life or create a serious risk to a person's safety
  • are done with the intention of advancing AAI's political, religious or ideological causes
  • are done with the intention of coercing or influencing by intimidation the government of a foreign country
  • are done with the intention of intimidating sections of the public globally.

Other relevant information

Links to other terrorist groups or networks

Since January 2009 AAI has exhibited links to, expressed support for, or received verbal support from other jihadi extremist groups, including al-Qa'ida Senior Leadership (AQSL), the Islamic State and its predecessor organisations.

  • 12 December 2013: AAI released a statement that announced the graduation of a group of fighters from a training camp. The camp was named in honour of Pakistani cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who was killed in 2007 after openly calling for the overthrow of the Pakistani Government and whose followers engaged in violent protests, kidnappings and clashes with authorities.
  • 1 December 2013: AAI claimed responsibility for a joint attack with the Islamic State militants. AAI stated that it conducted a suicide bombing targeting Shia militia in Rabia, a town near the Iraqi-Syrian border. According to the statement, militants from the Islamic State (then known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) attacked the survivors of the blast.
  • 17 September 2012: AAI released a eulogy for al-Qa'ida senior member Abu Yahya al-Libi, praising him for his jihadist activities.
  • 6 September 2012: AAI released a statement offering condolences to Lebanese extremist group Fatah al-Islam for the death of its leader, Abu Hussam al-Shami, praising Shami for his jihadist activities.
  • 7 May 2011: AAI released a eulogy for the death of al-Qa'ida overall leader Osama bin Laden, consoling Muslims for bin Laden's death and encouraging continued jihad.

Threat to Australian interests

AAI does not pose a direct threat to Australian interests.

Proscription by the UN and other countries

AAI is listed on the United Nations 1267 Committee's consolidated list and as a proscribed terrorist organisation by the governments of the US, UK, New Zealand and Canada.

Peace and mediation processes

AAI is not known to have participated in peace or mediation processes.