October 25, 2014

The men of the al-Qadisiya army: a made-up social media insurgent group

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Logo of the Men of the al-Qadisiya Army On this site and elsewhere, I have profiled numerous Iraqi Sunni insurgent brands through use of social media. At the same time, it should go without saying that one has to be careful when using material from social media as a source of information: problems we encounter as analysts of the insurgency include groups appropriating credit from others for certain operations, claimed operations that never happened, and even groups that do not actually exist. … [Read more...]

Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada- threats to Saudi Arabia: translation and analysis

Dhi Qar Media Office: "The Islamic Resistance: Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada'". Dhi Qar is a southern province in Iraq, predominantly Shi'a in population, and serving as a recruitment base for the group. Note the banner featuring Ayatollah Khamenei (Supreme Leader of Iran), indicating Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada's ideological alignment.

Intro and Analysis Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada is an Iranian proxy Iraqi Shi'a militia that first emerged as a participant in the Syrian civil war, fighting against the rebels as part of the 'shrine defence' [Sayyida Zainab] narrative. With the renewal of the Sunni Arab insurgency spearheaded by the Islamic State in Iraq this year, the group has also been participating in fighting alongside the government's regular armed forces and other Shi'a militias against the insurgents. Logo of … [Read more...]

Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian peninsula statement: solidarity with the Islamic State

aymenn

Intro and Analysis The latest statement from al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP, h/t to Charlie Winter for drawing it to my attention) denounces the coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State [IS] and reiterates its call for an end to infighting among the jihadis in the Iraq-Syria arena. I take this opportunity to emphasize that this statement does not mean a true reconciliation between AQAP and IS, let alone between al-Qa'ida as a whole and IS: as I have outlined before, IS' … [Read more...]

Interview with Sayyid Hashim Muhammad Ali: commander of the National Ideological Resistance in Syria

Sayyid Hashim Muhammad Ali, who is based in Tartous.

Following on from my previous post here at Syria Comment on the National Ideological Resistance in Syria (a 'Syrian Hezbollah' militia brand primarily based in Tartous and Hama governorates but also operating militarily at least in Aleppo province as well), below is an interview I recently conducted with the group's leader: Sayyid Hashim Muhammad Ali. Sayyid Hashim Muhammad Ali, who is based in Tartous. Some things to note in particular about this interview: 1. 'Syrian Hezbollah' … [Read more...]

“I am not content with a life of humiliation”- Nasheed from the Islamic State’s Ajnad Media

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Below is a translation by me of this song released early this year by the Islamic State's music media wing Ajnad Media (NB: revised slightly since first published): "A life of humiliation no, I am not content with it. But love of death in glory is an aspiration. For no, by God, I do not fear the fate of death. For the slave has no place in the material world. And indeed death is in the path of Jihad, Verily God's favour is bestowed on whomsoever He wills. Oh path of jihad, … [Read more...]

The National Ideological Resistance in Syria: A ‘Syrian Hezbollah’ Brand

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

Hezbollah's participation in the Syrian civil war in support of the Assad regime is well-known, most notably in the captures of Qusayr in Homs province in May 2013 and Yabroud in Damascus province in March 2014. Considerably less attention has been given though to the emergence of native brands, which, if not actually set up by Hezbollah, are nonetheless identical in ideology and messaging. "The National Ideological Resistance in Syria" (NIR. Arabic: al-muqawama al-wataniya al-'aqa'idiya fi … [Read more...]

Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen: Support for the Islamic State

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Intro and Analysis The Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen [more fully, Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen in the Environs of Bayt al-Maqdis], a Gaza-Sinai jihadi group and opponent of the Hamas government in Gaza, had previously come out in support of the Islamic State's [IS] predecessor ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and ash-Sham) in February of this year, defending ISIS' supposed right to 'self-defence' in the face of fighting with rebel groups in Syria. This reflected a wider trend ofsympathy for ISIS in … [Read more...]

SUNNI OPPOSITION TO THE ISLAMIC STATE

Kata’ib al-Hamza fighters reported to be in Haditha.

PDF version available here Spearheaded by the Islamic State (IS), a renewed Sunni Arab insurgency in Iraq has wrestled control of most localities in the Anbar, Ninawa, Salah ad-Din and Kirkuk governorates away from the central government over the course of 2014. While the question of exactly who controls what is still a matter of debate, it has become clear that IS has asserted its own authority at the expense of other factions in the main cities and towns, including Mosul, Tikrit and … [Read more...]

THE ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ AND AL-SHAM

Photo of a Jama’at Jund al-Sham fighter holding a flag of the group

PDF version available here This article examines the rise of the al-Qa’ida-aligned group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) since its announcement in April 2013 until September 2013. It focuses in particular on its military operations and its relations with other rebel groups. The article concludes by examining what the future holds for ISIS on the whole.   INTRODUCTION: THE IDEOLOGY   The group under consideration in this paper--like al-Qa’ida … [Read more...]

VIOLENCE IN IRAQ

This article discusses general trends as regards violence in Iraq as well as the important question of the total number of violent civilian deaths since 2003. In addition, the operations of active militant groups and exacerbating factors for violence are examined.   DATA GATHERING ON VIOLENCE When it comes to statistics on violence in Iraq, there are a number of sources one can use for information, including the “Iraq Body Count” (IBC), the Iraqi government, and the United Nations. The … [Read more...]