1920 REVOLUTION BRIGADES SPLITS IN TWO
On March 18, the jihadi website kataeb20.net posted a March 9 announcement from Iraq’s 1920 Revolution Brigades, in which the coalition of militant groups stated that they would be splintering into two separate corps. According to the statement, the two corps would be called the al-Jihad al-Islami (Islamic Jihad) Corps and the al-Fatih al-Islami (Islamic Conquest) Corps. Future statements from the 1920 Revolution Brigades will also include the corps name to which it is attributed. The statement also said that “each corps must refrain from attempting to influence the other and must allow the other to carry out any new operation in any sector.” It is not clear if the split was due to internal disagreements between two factions inside the Brigades, although they did state that the “agreement was reached to overcome any discord.” The statement also outlines the regions in which each corps will operate. Islamic Jihad Corps will be active in the following sectors: the northern sector, which includes Mosul, Kirkuk and Tikrit; sections of Baghdad; and Abu Ghraib. The Islamic Conquest Corps will be active in the following sectors: Diyala; sections of Baghdad; al-Fallujah; al-Ramadi; and the “western region.” The 1920 Revolution Brigades is an indigenous Iraqi insurgent group composed of Sunni Arabs.
JIHADIS APPEAL TO AL-BAGHDADI TO HELP THEM CROSS SYRIA-IRAQ BORDER
A March 15 posting in the Tajdeed forum highlighted the difficulties that some jihadis are experiencing when trying to make their way to Iraq from Syria (https://tajdeed.org.uk). The user explained that upon reaching the border area, the “tyrants” of Syria were not allowing the migration to take place. In response, another user posted a more formal letter on the Tajdeed forum addressed to Sheikh Omar al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, urging him to assist the mujahideen in crossing the Syria-Iraq border. The formal letter reads, “we were distressed by the tyrant of Syria, Bashar al-Assad and his gang, who have arrested many of us…on the borders that separate us from you. We cannot find a way to reach you. Many of the journeys to you have been hindered, and many of the young men who were on their way to you have been taken prisoners.” The letter then requested that al-Baghdadi send a “special brigade” with the “sole mission to be on the borders to receive the mujahideen.” The user signed the letter with his e-mail address, listed as firstname.lastname@example.org. The posting has since been removed from the Tajdeed forum. Syria is an important transit point for jihadis going to Iraq, and there have been a number of operations conducted by the Syrian government to arrest militants crossing the border.
NEW SUFI GROUP CONTINUES OPERATIONS IN IRAQ
On February 20, The Jamestown Foundation published information on a new Sufi insurgent group in Iraq, known as The Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order (Terrorism Focus, February 20). The group had declared its existence by posting a video on January 17 of what it claimed were operations against coalition troops, displaying attacks on Humvees along with other operations (Terrorism Focus, February 20). On March 14, the group released a new posting, claiming two more attacks on coalition interests in Iraq. The group’s announcement explains that the operations were to avenge the memory of Muhammad Abbas, also known as Abu al-Abbas, a Palestine Liberation Organization leader who was arrested by coalition forces in Baghdad in April 2003 and died while in custody. While coalition forces allege that he died from natural causes, The Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order claim that he was tortured and poisoned. The Sufi group warns that they will continue to attack the “forces of infidelity and perversity in the occupation of Iraq” until they reach either “victory or martyrdom.” The group is at least the second Sufi insurgent group in Iraq, with the first being the Battalions of Sheikh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani (Terrorism Focus, September 19, 2006). According to the February 20 issue of Terrorism Focus, “Sufi fighters have similar motivations for joining the insurgency as other components of Iraq’s conflict—discrimination, loss of power, status and unemployment, as well as revenge and the suffering of various indecencies such as detentions.”