April 9, 2008 Special Dispatch No. 1890

Hamas-Iraq: Al-Qaeda in Iraq is Subservient to Iran; 'The U.S. is Our Main Enemy, But a More Dangerous Enemy is Iran'

April 9, 2008
Special Dispatch No. 1890

In a March 26, 2008 interview with the Qatari daily Al-'Arab, the spokesman for the Iraqi Sunni jihad organization Hamas-Iraq, Ahmad Salah Al-Din, accused Al-Qaeda in Iraq of regarding most Iraqi resistance factions as its main enemy, of subservience to Iran, and of receiving from it weapons, funds, training, and medical care for its wounded. Salah Al-Din added that in the past year Al-Qaeda in Iraq had become considerably weaker and smaller.

The following are excerpts from the Al-'Arab article on the interview:

Al-Qaeda in Iraq Has Its Own Agenda, Which Transcends the Borders of Iraq

"Regarding the reasons for the confrontation with Al-Qaeda, Salah Al-Din stated: 'We do not regard Al-Qaeda [in Iraq] as a resistance organization, since it has its own agenda which transcends the borders of Iraq. This has been clear since Abu-Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi vowed allegiance to Osama bin Laden - because after the occupation of Iraq, Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad, [1] which was under Al-Zarqawi's command, was close to all Iraqi resistance factions and even planned to join forces with Al-Jaish Al-Islami. However, after Al-Zarqawi's vow of allegiance to bin Laden was publicly announced, things changed considerably: Al-Qaeda began openly spreading its ideas, goals, and hatred, and accusing of heresy anybody who took part in the political process, including Sunni Arab parties.

"'Following Al-Zarqawi's assassination, Al-Qaeda intensified its aggression against Iraq's resistance factions, until they became its primary [targets]. A confrontation ensued between [Al-Qaeda] and most of the Iraqi resistance factions, including the Thawrat Al-'Ishrin brigades - after Al-Qaeda had the audacity to murder Hareth Al-Dhari, the nephew of Sheikh Hareth Al-Dhari, secretary-general of the Council of Muslim Clerics in Iraq.'"

The Real Al-Qaeda Commander [in Iraq] is Abu Ayub Al-Masri

"Salah Al-Din accused Al-Qaeda of being subservient to Iran, [claiming] that they had [extensive] evidence to that effect. He said: 'We found Iranian [currency], toman, at an Al-Qaeda headquarters that we uncovered. We have also captured Iranian weapons, not to mention audio and video recordings containing announcements by Al-Qaeda fighters that they had received training in Iranian military camps and that Al-Qaeda wounded were being transported to Iran for medical treatment.'

"Salah Al-Din claimed that Al-Qaeda's real commander [in Iraq] was Abu Ayub Al-Masri, and that [Abu 'Omar] Al-Baghdadi [2] was an Iraqi figure to whom many [words and deeds] are attributed solely to create the impression that [Al-Qaeda is a genuinely] Iraqi organization. He said that [Abu Ayub] Al-Masri had been rescued from arrest by an Arab intelligence apparatus using a diplomatic vehicle belonging to the Iranian Embassy... Salah Al-Din explained that as of late, Al-Qaeda in Iraq had considerably diminished in size - so much so that today it can be said to constitute 15 percent of what it was a year ago, [and that therefore, even] if Al-Qaeda has begun launching suicide operations, these [operations] are not proof of its strength...'"

Iran Wants to Eradicate Our Beliefs and to Change the Demography of the Sunni Regions, Particularly Baghdad

"[In conclusion,] Salah Al-Din stated, in the name of Hamas-Iraq: 'The U.S. is our main enemy, but a more dangerous enemy is Iran. The U.S. wants [our] oil, and possibly it wants to establish military bases [on our soil], or to remain [in Iraq] for many years to come - while Iran wants to rule, [and] to eradicate and change [our] beliefs and ideas, [and] aspires to alter the demography of the Sunni regions, particularly Baghdad.'" [3]

[1] Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad was the name of Al-Qaeda in Iraq before it vowed allegiance to bin Laden.

[2] Al-Baghdadi is the "Emir of the Islamic State of Iraq."

[3] Al-'Arab (Qatar), March 26, 2008.

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