Military


Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshabandi (JRTN)

Iraqi politicians speak of the shadowy group known as “The Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order," or “Naqshbandia" for short, as the primary Ba’thist grouping supporting AQI’s attacks. The Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshabandi (JRTN) is a militant offshoot of the Iraqi Baath party, and together with AQI, designated under U.S. law as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Its resurgence added to the instability in Sunni areas, fueled mistrust in Shia areas, and facilitated the rise and entrenchment of ISIL, particularly in border regions of Ninewa province. Today, ISIL and JRTN appear to be working together in some areas.

It is important to note that, like the IAI, JRTN maintained a political activist wing: namely, Intifada Ahrar al-Iraq, which existed prior to the outbreak of the protests at the end of 2012. That Intifada Ahrar al-Iraq is a front group for JRTN is demonstrable on numerous counts. For example, Intifada Ahrar al-Iraq’s social media pages routinely advertise new JRTN statements (and of no other militant group) as soon as they are released.

This group, whose name refers to an order of Sufism and which adopts a Sufi veneer, is led by former Iraqi vice president ‘Izzat al-Duri, himself a Sufi, though of the Qaderi rather than the Naqshbandi order. Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was Saddam’s right-hand man during the Ba’athist regime, and led the Return to Faith campaign in the 1990s. The adherence to the Ba’athist vision, with its ideal of a unified pan-Arab body, is clear in the logo, featuring Arabic countries as one entity, besides the use of the old Ba’athist flag, though historically the Iraqi Ba’ath did not actively work to realize such a goal.

The US Government has no information indicating any tie between JRTN and the Naqshabandi Sufi order of Islam, which is now the largest strain of Sufism. The Naqshbandi order is one of the most familiar Muslim religious movements 'exported' from Central Asia to other parts of the Islamic world (especially the Indian subcontinent and the Ottoman Middle East). The Naqshbandi order, founded by Baha al-din Naqshband in 1389, is the only Sufi sect to trace its lineage to the Prophet Mohammed through Abu Bakr, the first caliph, while most orders claim to be descendants of Abu Talib, the fourth caliph. Naqshband stems from the word "naqsh", which means "engraving" and "band," which means "bond." Thus, the order calls for the engraving of G-d's name in the heart and calls for a bond between an individual and his Creator.

With the withdrawal of US military forces, Shi’a militant groups and Iranian-backed militias (IBMs) have ceased most militant activities, opting to pursue opportunities in the political spectrum. However, Sunni insurgent groups, such as al-Qai’da in Iraq/Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (AQI/ISIL) and Jaysh Rijal al Tariq al Naqshabandi (JRTN) have increased operations in the ensuing vacuum. Foreign and indigenous terrorist groups remain capable of conducting deadly attacks throughout the country.

Attacks that continue to threaten personnel working in Iraq include, but are not limited to: kidnapping, IEDs, Vehicle-Borne IEDs (VBIEDs), rocket/mortar attacks, complex attacks involving several mechanisms of assault, suicide vest attacks, and small arms fire. The proliferation of such attacks indicates the willingness of groups to use terrorism for political gain and the level of impunity with which these groups still operate. Attacks have been primarily directed against Iraqi government facilities and security personnel and “soft targets," such as market places, religious pilgrims, and large public gatherings.

On 22 December 2009 the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated the Iraq-based insurgent group Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshabandi (JRTN) for threatening the peace and stabilization efforts in Iraq. JRTN has committed, directed, supported, or posed a significant risk of committing acts of violence against Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces and is being designated today pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13438, which targets insurgent and militia groups and their supporters. Today's designation freezes any assets that JRTN may have under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with the entity.

"Today's designation is an important step in protecting Coalition troops, Iraqi Security Forces, and innocent Iraqis from insurgent groups like JRTN that use violence to undermine Iraq's progress toward a more democratic and prosperous future," said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey.

JRTN has conducted attacks against Coalition Forces in Iraq since April 2009, including the August RKG-3 (armor-penetrating grenade) attack against a Coalition Forces convoy in Hawijah, Iraq. Subsequently, a JRTN cell operating in Kirkuk, Iraq, fired rockets at the Kirkuk Regional Air Base in two separate attacks. As of mid-2009, JRTN planned to conduct attacks against Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces and intended to overthrow the Government of Iraq and reinstate Ba'ath Party rule. In mid-July, JRTN members were responsible for an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on Coalition Forces near an Iraqi police station in Salah ad Din Governorate, Iraq. Later that month, JRTN detonated an IED targeting Coalition Forces in Kirkuk and in August, conducted an indirect fire attack on Joint Security Station McHenry in Kirkuk.

In December 2008, a JRTN member operating in Kirkuk purchased three Katyusha rockets and an undetermined number of magnetic improvised explosive devices that were intended to be used in attacks against Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraqi police or Government of Iraq officials. JRTN's Abu Ghurayb Brigade also targeted Coalition Forces stationed at or around Baghdad International Airport.

Web postings made by JRTN further demonstrate that the group conducted attacks against Coalition Forces. In a statement on the al-Mindar Network's website in May 2009, JRTN claimed to have conducted three separate attacks against Coalition Forces, including a May attack that destroyed a U.S. Humvee in Anbar Province, Iraq; an April 2009 sniper attack against a U.S. soldier in al-Ta'mim Province, Iraq; and the destruction of a U.S. vehicle in Anbar Province in April. In a separate instance, in August, JRTN posted a video of a military vehicle being hit by powerful explosion to the JRTN website.




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