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Jaish Ansar al-Sunna

The Ansar al-Sunna, or Army of the Protectors of the Sunna [which refers to the collective teachings of the Prophet Muhammad], is a is a Sunni extremist group said to be linked with al-Qaida. Ansar Al Sunna is a faction of Ansar Al Islam and reportedly has close ties with the Al-Zarqawi network. Jaish Ansar al-Sunna appears to be a successor organization to Ansar al-Islam or a subset of it. It is sometimes hard to know exactly where the boundaries of these groups are. These terrorists are targeting the Iraqis and killing many, many more Iraqis than they are killing coalition forces.

The group claimed responsibility for twin bombing attacks on 01 February 2004 in Iraq's northern city of Arbil that left at least 105 people dead and more than 130 others injured. The group made the announcement in a statement posted in Arabic on a Web site that frequently carries statements by Islamic militants. The near-simultaneous suicide attacks occurred at about 10:45 a.m. (0745 GMT) on as the offices were packed with hundreds ofpeople celebrating the Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, a major Muslim holiday. Several senior politicians from both the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) were killed in the attacks. But Kurdish political groups fingered Ansar al-Islam in the Arbil attack.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations at Combined Joint Task Force 7, said the group is "coming onto our screen" and called it an umbrella group for anti-coalition forces. "Based on the claim of responsibility for the Irbil bombings, we're going to look closely at this group and try to gather as much intelligence on this group as we can," he said. "Once we do that, we'll use it to launch operations against them to kill or capture them to prevent them from launching terrorist attacks."

On 04 February 2004 it was reported that Ansar al-Sunna had taken claim for the attack on the al-Faqwa police station in Mosul that was attacked on the 31st of January.

On 09 March 2004 coalition forces conducted five offensive operations in northeastern Mosul to disrupt a terrorist cell with possible connections to Ansar al-Sunna. Three of the five primary targets were detained, as were nine of their associates.

On 03 July 2004 Ansar al-Sunna Army posted a written statement on an Arabic Internet site claiming it had killed US Marine Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, who was believed taken hostage in Iraq about two weeks earlier. US military officials in Baghdad said they were investigating the report but could not immediately confirm it. On 27 June 2004 a video of the captured and blindfolded Marine was shown on the Arabic satellite television station Al-Jazeera. Militants demanded the release of all Iraqis being held in coalition jails. The militants said they were members of the group Islamic Response, the security wing of the National Islamic Resistance. In the statement that appeared on the Arabic Internet site, the group said the Marine, of Lebanese-descent, had been killed and that video detailing the killing would soon be released. The statement appeared on the same Internet site which in June 2004 showed video of the beheading of American Paul Johnson in Saudi Arabia. Hassoun had been reported killed and was presumed dead until Ansar al-Sunna denied he had been killed. But he mysteriously turned up in Lebanon safe and with his head still on, and was charged with desertion. An Iraqi Islamic group stated it had taken the 24-year-old Marine translator to a safe place after he allegedly promised to desert -- that is, not to return to his military unit. The group -- calling itself Islamic Response -- faxed the statement to the Qatar-based satellite news channel Al-Jazeera.

Ansar al-Sunnah took responsibility for beheading 12 Nepalese hostages in August 2004. On 20 August 2004 Nepalese officials said they were trying to confirm reports that 12 Nepalese nationals had been seized by a militant group in Iraq. A statement on the Internet purportedly issued by a group calling itself the Army of the Ansar al-Sunna said that the 12 men were subcontracted to a Jordanian company and were working for the US military in Iraq. The authenticity of the statement could not be verified. Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world, has banned its nationals from traveling to or working in Iraq but many Nepalese are known to have gone there from elsewhere in the Middle East. The website video showed one hostage, bare-chested and wearing a white blindfold, lying face up as one of his two attackers appeared to hack off his head with a knife. The tape carried the sound of moaning, then a high-pitched wheezing. The knife-wielding man held up the head and placed it on the victim's chest. The tape then showed 11 hostages shot in succession with an assault rifle as they lay next to one another, face down in the sand and with their hands and legs apparently unrestrained. At that time more than 100 foreigners had been kidnapped in Iraq. Many had since been released, but some 25 had been killed, and at least another 20 were still being held, from countries including Bulgaria, Canada, Kenya, India, Turkey, France, Somalia, and Egypt. In a statement, militants from the Army of Ansar al-Sunna claimed responsibility for the killings and said the Nepalese were "fighting the Muslims and serving the Jews and the Christians" and "believing in Buddha as their God."

Task Force Danger Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment detained the suspected leader of an anti-Iraqi forces insurgent cell during a raid in Kirkuk on 27 September 2004. The Soldiers detained Husayn Salman Muhammad Al-Jabburi, suspected of leading a Kirkuk-Hawaijah based cell aligning itself with Ansar Al Sunna. The Soldiers transported Al-Jabburi to a Multi-National Forces detention facility for questioning. No injuries were reported in the incident.

On 03 October 2004 militants in Iraq beheaded an Iraqi contractor who they say was working for US forces. Members of the Ansar al-Sunna Army, the group responsible for the beheading said in a videotaped message on an Islamist website they would kill other Iraqis working with Americans. A Jordanian company said it will cease operations in Iraq, as demanded by another group holding one of the firm's employees under a death threat.

On 21 December 2004 an explosion killed at least 22 people and wounded at least 60 more. An Iraqi militant group claimed responsibility. The explosion on the US base in southern Mosul occurred as hundreds of soldiers gathered in a dining tent for lunch. The commander of U.S. forces in Mosul, Brigadier General Carter Ham, said casualties include US soldiers, American and foreign civilian contractors, and members of the Iraqi Army. The Iraqi militant group Ansar al-Sunna claimed responsibility for the explosion, which it says was a suicide operation.



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