Islamic Front for Iraq Resistance Brigadier Refutes al-Qaeda’s Approach to Combating U.S. Occupation

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 5 Issue: 28

A jihadi forum has posted an interview with a spokesman for the Islamic Front for Iraqi Resistance (al-Jabha al-Islamiya lil-Moqawama al-Iraqiya – JAMI), an Iraqi Sunni jihadi group (al-Boraq, July 4). The movement has a political wing and a military wing consisting of the Salah al-Din Ayyubi and Sayfullah al-Maslul Brigades ( In a video released last December, JAMI claimed its focus was fighting occupation troops, not terrorism or the killing of other Iraqis (al-Jazeera, December 27, 2007).

A forum participant, nicknamed Jamjoum, posted the interview with Staff Brigadier Abu Baseer, the military spokesman of JAMI. Abu Baseer answered questions put to him by members of the jihadi website

On the question of the Awakening councils, the Brigadier agrees the councils serve law and order, but opposes their collaboration with the occupiers: “The phenomenon of the Awakening councils is positive in some parts of Iraq and negative in others. Similarly, joining the Iraqi police is acceptable as long as it presents a service to the populace and doesn’t stand in the way of jihadi operations.” Commenting on the aftermath of a U.S. pullout from Iraq and whether JAMI has an agenda to liberate other occupied Islamic countries such as Afghanistan, Chechnya and Somalia, al-Baseer asserts that JAMI activities in Iraq are “defensive jihad” operations, obligatory for all Muslims when a Muslim country is occupied.

In the field JAMI cooperates with other jihadi groups with whom it shares common objectives and methods, such as the Islamic Army of Iraq (al-Jaysh al-Islami fi’l-Iraq) and the Sufi-based Army of the Men of al-Naqshabandia Way (Jaysh Rajal al-Tariqah al-Naqshabandia), but al-Baseer believes the complete merger of different Iraqi jihadi factions can only occur after the liberation of Iraq. In the meantime, preserving each group’s identity has helped reduce hostile intelligence and security penetrations of Sunni jihadi groups. Critical of some other jihadi groups, al-Baseer maintains the “Jihad and Change Front” and the ex-Ba’ath party should learn from past mistakes and revise their convictions. Secularism has proven defunct and disastrous in Iraq and must be replaced with Islamic Sharia, a system capable of mending past mistakes. In the same way, the Takfiri ideology of the Salafis is also at fault for spilling the blood of innocent Muslims. Al-Baseer declines from directly accusing other jihadi groups of wrongdoing, but holds Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri responsible for al-Qaeda’s mistaken approach in Iraq. Al-Baseer also points to the incorrect approach of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) because it lacks the basic requisites of a state and shura council. The ISI infringed basic Sunni principles when it pledged allegiance to an anonymous Amir (Abu Omar al-Baghdadi). Further, JAMI does not reject foreign mujahideen so long as leadership of the jihad is under the control of the Iraqi mujahideen.

JAMI denounces those Arab countries that stood on the occupier’s side and facilitated the U.S. invasion of Iraq, arguing that Iraq has always sided with and defended Arab countries against Israel and Iran, but Arab countries did not return the favor. “Arab countries that helped the West are stamped with shame on their foreheads,” adds al-Baseer.

On the recruitment and military level, al-Baseer asserts that only loyal, committed and pious jihadis are recruited in JAMI. The recruits must be experienced in the use of weapons and military tactics and pass certain standards of the JAMI selection committee. Al-Baseer reports that JAMI will soon start using a new rocket system it developed, called “Sinan1.”

The decrease in roadside bomb attacks, according to al-Baseer, can be attributed to a decline in the enemy’s movements in the cities. Al-Baseer anticipates that U.S. forces will be compelled to completely withdraw from Iraqi cities in 2009 and limit their presence to military bases. Currently, roadside bomb attacks are perpetrated on highways only, but JAMI refrains from releasing attack videos to avoid compromising its fighters. Al-Baseer refutes a statement by the U.S. military that most casualties on U.S. forces have been inflicted by Shiite groups, claiming 80 percent of U.S. losses occurred in Sunni areas.

In an earlier interview, al-Baseer revealed the introduction of female jihadis into the Salah al-Din battalions in accordance with the Sharia law on “defensive jihad,” which stipulates that jihad is obligatory for males and females when a Muslim country is being occupied by the enemy. Presently, the Salah al-Din brigades claim to have one fully operational female battalion called “Nosayba al-Ansari” ( January 9).

The views of the Islamic Front for Iraqi Resistance are in contrast with the strict Salafi-Jihadi beliefs of groups such as al-Qaeda and its allies. Many forum participants reacted negatively to al-Baseer’s interview, especially his views on ISI and al-Qaeda. A forum participant, nicknamed al-Mola al-Talibani, criticized JAMI’s deviation from “loyalty (to the believers) and disavowal (of the non-believers),” a basic principle of Salafi-Jihadi ideology. Al-Talabani went on to describe al-Baseer as a military man ignorant of Sharia jurisprudence: “The man is not a religious scholar. How could he tell the difference between loyalty and subservience to infidels? It’s clear blasphemy to aid the occupier even with a drink of water.”