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Ansar al-Islam (AI)
Partisans of Islam
Helpers of Islam
Supporters of Islam


AAnsar al-Islam is a radical Islamist group of Iraqi Kurds and Arabs who have vowed to establish an independent Islamic state in Iraq. It was formed in December 2001 and is closely allied with al-Qaida. Some of its members trained in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan, and the group provided safehaven to al-Qaida fighters before Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Since OIF, it has been one of the leading groups engaged in anti-Coalition attacks. (Ansar al-Islam was designated on 20 February 2003, under E.O. 13224. The UNSCR 1267 Committee designated Ansar al-Islam pursuant to UNSCRs 1267, 1390, and 1455 on 27 February 2003.)


The group has primarily fought against one of the two main Kurdish political factions— the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)—and has mounted ambushes and attacks in PUK areas. AI members have been implicated in assassinations and assassination attempts against PUK officials and work closely with both al-Qaida operatives and associates in Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi’s network. Before OIF, some AI members claimed to have produced cyanide-based toxins, ricin, and alfatoxin.


Approximately 700 to 1000 members.

Location/Area of Operation

Central and northern Iraq.

External Aid

The group receives funding, training, equipment, and combat support from al-Qaida and other international jihadist backers.

Sources and Resources

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Created by John Pike
Maintained by Steven Aftergood
Updated April 30, 2004