Invisible Mujahideen Training Camps and the New Resistance Strategy in Iraq

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 5 Issue: 26

Reacting to the latest decline in jihadi operations in Iraq in particular and in the world in general, a jihadi forum has discussed the need to reevaluate mujahideen tactics. The main posting is entitled “Towards a New Strategy to Resist the Occupier” (, June 6). In the same context, another posting entitled “The Secret Camps for Preparing the Mujahideen” instructs jihadis to take up the creation of secret mujahideen training camps (, June 7).

A forum participant, nicknamed Burkan, believes the Islamic umma (community) must devise a new strategy for an apparently imminent World War III. According to al-Burkan, the Islamic jihadi movements are the only parties capable of leading the Islamic nations to victory in this war, therefore the jihadi movements must revise their tactics to avoid mistakes made in the last five years of the Crusader/Zionist onslaught on the Muslim umma. The strategy should serve as guidance to Islamic youth in facing “the biggest military might known to mankind”—the United States. In reviewing the confrontation with the Soviet Union’s military in Afghanistan, al-Burkan brags about the mujahideen’s victory over the legendary Soviet Army, stressing the need for optimism in achieving the same victory over the West’s fragile and dissolute imperialism, regardless of the colossal military might it possesses. The expansionist culture of the West can only be defied by a strong and coherent culture. Therefore, the first step in implementing the new strategy is to strengthen the umma’s Islamic values. Al-Burkan adds that the collapse of Western imperialism will result in an unprecedented political vacuum when the “tyrant regimes” that currently rule the Middle East are driven out.

Secondly, jihadi movements must change their combat and confrontation techniques in the new phase. These new tactics should involve secret guerrilla warfare using loosely organized jihadi cells. This tactic proved effective in the first Afghan jihad and the conflicts in Bosnia and Chechnya, says al-Burkan. Because the enemy succeeded in countering the tactics of secret cells in Iraq by setting up a local force of collaborators (the Awakening councils) and isolating the occupied country from its neighbors, jihadis must revert to solo operations. This technique should be used in “indirectly-occupied” countries, meaning attacks against Western interests in other Islamic countries designed to force the enemy to leave directly-occupied countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Al-Burkan admits the failure of centralized, hierarchical, secret jihadi groups and suggests solo jihad as a means of avoiding infiltration and capture by the enemy’s secret services. However, al-Burkan stresses the need to reevaluate suicide attacks. Jihadis and religious scholars must be very careful when it comes to authorizing suicide attacks in the upcoming phase of confrontation with Western forces. Jihadi movements need the support of the populace in establishing the Islamic Amirate, therefore they should avoid the indiscriminate killing of innocent Muslim bystanders in suicide attacks. Other, easier jihadi combat techniques should be sought to enable as much participation from the umma’s youth as possible. It is the duty of jihadi cell leaders to train individuals in new combat methods and update the target lists to include those targets most effective in weakening the Crusaders. In a direct incitement of violence against civilians, al-Burkan alleges that all civilian Westerners are combatants because they pay tax and help their government against Muslims; therefore the Shari’a law that stipulates a non-combatant should be excluded from killing does not apply to them.

In another posting entitled “The Secret Camps for Preparing the Mujahideen,” al-Burkan talks about the advantages and requisites of secret training camps as follows:

• The camps do not have a designated location, therefore the maintenance and running costs are affordable by the participating jihadis without having to receive funds that would compromise the training cell.

• Such camps require only two to three training leaders experienced in weapons, communications, intelligence and human resource management.

• The trainees should be no more than five in number, hand-picked from the same age group. The trainees should be youths motivated by jihad and operating on a need-to-know basis.

• Physical training should be conducted in sports clubs, martial arts centers and on beaches.

• Military tactics and weapons training should be carried out in the desert where the dunes provide protection from curious intruders and security forces.

• Finally, each training cell must have a trusted religious authority or scholar guiding the prospective jihadis. The shaykh may issue fatwas (religious decisions) on possible targets selected by the training cell. The shaykh must also help strengthen the trainees’ resolve for jihad and purge from them any hesitation or second thoughts.

Jihadis are currently facing increasing difficulties in recruitment, training and sustaining a terror campaign. Many other postings on the main jihadi websites continuously suggest new tactics for the mujahideen to evade offensives by security forces. Although the strategy of secret training and solo jihad presents complications for security services, the major factor in the success of such clandestine activities is good cover, which relies on extensive training generally unavailable to jihadis in the way it was earlier in the conflict.