March 25, 2004 Special Dispatch No. 686

A Testimony on Suicide Bombers' Recruitment to Ansar Al-Islam

March 25, 2004
Iraq | Special Dispatch No. 686

The London-based Arabic daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat published the story of a member of the Islamic terrorist organization Ansar Al-Islam, who planned to blow himself up in the Interior Ministry building in Al-Suleimaniya, but was arrested by the Kurdish authorities. The Kurdish security authorities accuse Ansar Al-Islam of attacking American forces and their allies in Iraq and of responsibility for the suicide bombings at the headquarters of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in early February, which killed 109 people. On March 23, 2004 the U.S. government officially listed Ansar Al-Islam as a terrorist organization. The following are excerpts from the article: [1]

Recruitment Tactics of Ansar Al-Islam

"Kaywan Qader, 18-years old, grew up in Al-Suleimaniya. He was one of 10 brothers and sisters of a moderately religious family. His mother did not wear a veil and he prayed [only] once a day in the mosque where he met someone named Sawara Ahmad Ali, who later became his recruiter to Ansar Al-Islam. Qader says that Sawara Ali discussed religion with him and told him that it was his duty to carry out Jihad operations against the KDP and that prayer alone was not sufficient. He stressed to him the necessity to join Jihad in order to become a good Muslim. Qader says that he greatly fears Allah and that Ali exploited that.

"It was the year 2001, Ansar Al-Islam had not been established as of yet, and Ali was a member of one of the offshoots of the Islamist Movement in Kurdistan. The group was established in December of that year, and in 2003 the American and Kurdish forces in northern Iraq attacked its bases, its members fled to Iran where they regrouped and then infiltrated back into Iraq to join the fight against the American-led occupation. Later, Ali was able to convince Qader that Jihad would offer him paradise and save him from hell. Qader agreed to join Ali in one of the villages to prepare himself for Jihad, and all of his father's efforts to dissuade him from that failed. Qader told his father that Allah's wish supercedes the family's wish. He joined a camp where about 400 members of the group were training, but his father persuaded him to return [home] promising him a possible job ... but he continued his training with the rest of the members.

"Qader says that the Kurdish and American forces carried out an intensive attack on the group's position on the eve of the war against Iraq, which forced the survivors to infiltrate into Iran where he was arrested and returned to the border. But he was able to enter Iran again, where he stayed for a month."

'Suicide Mission is the Highest Level of Jihad'

"In the camp, Qader was paid $22 per month. He agreed to carry out a suicide mission because he was told that it is 'the highest level of Jihad.' Ali sent his name to the group's command in Biyara, their stronghold in the mountainous area adjacent to Iran.

72 Virgins in Paradise

"Another detainee who spent time in Ansar Al-Islam's camp says that they listened to lectures where they were told that [each of] the Shuhadaa [martyrs] will find 72 virgins [waiting for him] in paradise. He added that the group has what is known as 'TNT camps' where the suicide bombers wear protective jackets and are trained on how to blow themselves at the right location.

"Umar Fattah, the KDP's head of security, says that Ansar Al-Islam uses C4 explosives which are more powerful than TNT. He added that Ansar Al-Islam creates groups of 3-8 youngsters between the ages of 15 and 25, who participate in one month of lectures, brainwashing, and intensive military training.

[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), March 18, 2004.

Share this Report: