In Iraq, Sunni insurgents still aim to oust U.S., Shiites
In an interview, a member of the Islamic Army of Iraq speaks of his group's long-term goals.
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He says IAI continues to have a loose affiliation with other factions that share its outlook, such as Muhammad's Army, the Rashideen Army, and Mujahedeen Army. The IAI's website also mentions a strand of Ansar al-Sunna, which has been linked to Al Qaeda in the past, as an additional ally.Skip to next paragraph
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Adding to the complexity is the role of former regime figures. Abu Abdullah says Rashideen is strongly backed by Ahmed al-Douri, the son of a top former Hussein lieutenant believed to be living in Yemen.
Even Sunni Arab parties at the core of the US-backed political process, such as the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) of Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, are ambivalent toward the Sunni insurgency, distinguishing between "noble" and "non-noble" fighters. The IIP's website refers to the US military in Iraq as "occupation forces" and describes Hussein's fall as a "black day."
Cross-purposes among insurgents
Abu Abdullah admits that some of the IAI's goals remain at cross-purposes with groups that have a more nationalist bent.
The 1920 Revolution Brigades split a year ago into "Islamic Jihad" and "Islamic Conquest" factions, the latter becoming the armed wing of a larger movement called "The Islamic Resistance Movement: Hamas, Iraq."
Abu Abdullah says these factions are all closely linked to the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI), led by hard-line Sunni clerics who are wanted by the government, and in some cases to the IIP. In a November interview with the Monitor, Mr. Hashemi denied ties to Sunni insurgent groups but admitted knowing and meeting some top leaders, saying he was trying to convince them to join the political process.
"The resistance is in a much better shape now than it was seven months ago; many young men who have never fought in the past have just joined the resistance. They are fighting under numerous labels to evade infiltration," AMSI's chief, Hareth al-Dhari, who is now outside Iraq, told the London-based Quds al-Arabi newspaper last week.
The Internet also continues to be a prime platform for Sunni insurgents. In a March 21 statement posted on the IAI's website, the group's purported leader mocks the visit by President Bush and senior US officials to Anbar last fall and their meeting with Sheikh Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, one of the first sahwa leaders. He was killed shortly thereafter.
""Prolonging the war in Iraq will be like walking through a V-shaped land or swimming in a swamp infested with alligators," it reads. "To the American people, the true salvation to your economy and security can be achieved by pulling out of Iraq."