A Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

BAAD - Ansar Al-Islam - 2012


Ansar Al-Islam

Ansar Al-Islam was founded in 2001 when the Kurdish militant group, the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan (IMK), splintered.[2] The IMK splintered into various factions, with two jihadist breakaway groups forming Jund Al-Islam, or Soldiers of Islam, on September 1, 2001.[3] On December 10, 2001, Jund Al-Islam renamed itself Ansar Al-Islam, with Mullah Krekar, the founder and leader, receiving al-Qa’ida seed money to establish the group.[4] Initially, Ansar Al-Islam was largely comprised of Arab al-Qa’ida fighters seeking refuge after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan during the fall of 2001.[5] Ansar Al-Islam continued to grow by gaining followers from other Kurdish Islamist groups.[6] Ansar Al-Islam originally began in Biyara, a township located between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran; however, it is active throughout the mountainous northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan.[7]

Under its original leader Mullah Krekar, Ansar Al-Islam began practicing strict sharia law in areas under its control.[8] Ansar Al-Islam seeks to create an Islamic Iraq under sharia and does so by instigating violence against secular Kurdish groups, coalition organizations, western forces, Iraqi security forces, and the Iraqi government.[9] Ansar Al-Islam receives a large amount of fiscal support, armed operations training, and supplies from its ally, al-Qa’ida.[10] After September 11, 2001, Ansar Al-Islam was seen as a key ally to al-Qa’ida forces operating within Iraq and was arguably one reason for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.[11] In March 2003, U.S. Special Forces backed by fighters from the secular Patriotic Union of Kurdistan attacked a major Ansar Al-Islam enclave and killed many of its fighters, forcing the survivors to flee to either Iran or other places of safety within Iraq.[12] However, in November 2003, the surviving members of Ansar Al-Islam reunited and changed the name of the group to Ansar Al-Sunna in an attempt to reunite Iraqi-based extremists.[13] Then, in December 2007, Ansar Al-Sunna returned to its name of Ansar Al-Islam, although some jihadists still occasionally use the name Ansar Al-Sunna.[14] A longtime leader of Ansar Al-Islam, Abu Abdulla al-Shafi’i, was captured on May 4, 2010.[15] On December 15, 2011, Abu Hashim Muhammad bin Abdul Rahman al Ibrahim was declared the new leader of Ansar Al-Islam.[16] Ansar Al-Islam still remains Iraq’s second-most prominent group in anti-coalition attacks and the second largest Iraqi Sunni insurgent organization.[17] View full narrative

Quick Facts for 2012


280 (Total of 1998 through 2012)

Religious, Separatist

Approximately 500-1000

Territorial Control:
Does Not Control Territory (0)

Funding through Drug Trafficking:

Sorry, but there are no organizational details available for this group at this time.


Primary Ideology

  • Ag = Anti-Globalization
  • An = Anarchist
  • En = Ethnic
  • Ev = Environmental
  • Le = Leftist
  • Re = Religious
  • Ri = Rightist
  • Se = Separatist
  • Su = Supremacist
  • Vi = Vigilante


  •  Ally
  •  Suspected Ally
  •  Rival
  •  Violence
  •  Mixed Relations


  •  Blue 0 - 1479 fatalities
  •  Green 1479 - 2958 fatalities
  •  Yellow 2958 - 4437 fatalities
  •  Orange 4437 - 5916 fatalities
  •  Red 5916 - 7396 fatalities

Lethality is calculated as the total number of fatalities from 1998-2012.


Icon sizes depict approximate relative sizes of the organizations.

  • Smallest 0 - 10 members
  •   11 - 100 members
  •   101 - 1000 members
  •   1001 - 10000 members
  • Largest > 10000 members

Other Notes

Icons with no color coding or ideology icon have no detailed data at this time, and are provided as relationship information only.