Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad

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Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad
(Organization of Monotheism and Jihad)
Participant in the Iraq War
Flag of JTJ.svg
A flag that was in use by Jama'at al-Tawhid wal Jihad in late 2004
Active 1999[1]–17 October 2004[2]
Leaders Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
Headquarters Fallujah
Area of operations Iraq, limited in Jordan
Became Flag of al-Qaeda in Iraq (2004-2005).svg Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn (aka Al-Qaeda in Iraq)
Allies Ansar al-Islam[citation needed]
Opponents Multinational force in Iraq,
Iraq (Iraqi security forces, Kurdish and Shia militias),
United Nations
Battles and wars Iraqi insurgency

Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (Arabic: جماعة التوحيد والجهاد‎‎, Organization of Monotheism and Jihad) was a militant Jihadist[1] group led by the Jordanian national Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. This group's name may be abbreviated as JTJ or shortened to Tawhid and Jihad, Tawhid wal-Jihad, Tawhid al-Jihad, Al Tawhid or Tawhid. The group started in Jordan, then became a decentralized network during the Iraq insurgency in which foreign fighters were widely thought to play a key role,[3] though some analysts said that it may have also had a considerable Iraqi membership.[4] Following al-Zarqawi's pledge of allegiance to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network on October 17, 2004, the group became known as al-Qaeda in Iraq (official name Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn).[2][5][6][7] After several rounds of name changes and mergers with other groups, the organization is now known as Islamic State (IS).


Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a Jordanian Jihadist who had traveled to Afghanistan to fight in the Soviet-Afghan War, but he arrived after the departure of the Soviet troops and soon returned to his homeland. He eventually returned to Afghanistan, running an Islamic militant training camp near Herat.

A report released by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in mid-2014 describes Al-Zarqawi as starting his jihadist group Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, with Jordanian and other Sunni Jihadist militants, in 1999 in Afghanistan with its training camp in Herat, Afghanistan, and with "a small amount of seed money" from Usama bin Laden "which continued until 9/11".[1]

Ideology and motivation

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's interpretation of Islamic takfir — accusing another Muslim of heresy and thereby justifying his killing — was extreme, which caused friction between him and Osama bin Laden.[1] On his first meeting with Bin Laden in 1999, Zarqawi reportedly declared: "Shiites should be executed".[8]

Zarqawi's political motivation came partly from what he considered U.N.'s "gift" of Palestine "to the Jews so they can rape the land and humiliate our people",[9] partly, but connected with the former, from what he considered (U.N.'s support for) (American) oppressors of Iraq[9] and the consequent "humiliation [of] our nation".[10]

Goals and tactics in Jordan and Iraq

Al-Zarqawi started the group with the intention of overthrowing the 'apostate' Kingdom of Jordan,[1] which he considered to be un-Islamic. After toppling Jordan's monarchy, presumably he would turn to the rest of the Levant.[1]

For these purposes he developed numerous contacts and affiliates in several countries. Although it has not been verified, his network may have been involved in the late 1999 plot to bomb the Millennium celebrations in the United States and Jordan.[citation needed] Al-Zarqawi and his operatives are held responsible by the US for the assassination of US diplomat Laurence Foley in Jordan in 2002.[11]

File:Iraqi insurgents with guns.JPG
A pair of armed anti-American insurgents in Iraq in 2006

Within a half year after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Zarqawi was a household name for brutal beheadings and a suicide bombing campaign in Iraq against Shiite religious targets and Sunni civilians.[1]

JTJ's tactics relied heavily on suicide bombings, often using car bombs, but also included targeted kidnappings, the planting of improvised explosive devices, and mortar attacks. Beginning in late June 2004, JTJ conducted urban guerrilla-style attacks using rocket-propelled grenades and small arms. They also gained worldwide notoriety for beheading Iraqi and foreign hostages and distributing video recordings of these acts on the Internet.

The group targeted the Iraqi Security Forces and those facilitating the occupation, Iraqi interim officials, Iraqi Shia and Kurdish political and religious figures, the country's Shia Muslim civilians, foreign civilian contractors, and United Nations and humanitarian workers.[12]

Involvement in the Iraq War

Following the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan, al-Zarqawi moved westward into Iraq, where he reportedly received medical treatment in Baghdad for an injured leg.

Al-Zarqawi was in Baghdad from May until late November 2002, when he traveled to Iran and northeastern Iraq.[13] The U.S. 2006 Senate Report on Pre-war Intelligence on Iraq concluded: "Postwar information indicates that Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zarqawi and that the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward al-Zarqawi."[13]

Following the March 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, JTJ developed[citation needed] into an expanding militant network for the purpose of resisting[why?] the coalition occupation forces and their Iraqi allies. It included some of the remnants of Ansar al-Islam and a growing number of foreign fighters. Many foreign fighters arriving in Iraq were initially not associated with JTJ, but once they were in the country they became dependent on al-Zarqawi's local contacts.[12]



The UN headquarters building in Baghdad after the Canal Hotel bombing, on 22 August 2003
Alternative Flag
Car bombings were a common form of attack in Iraq during the Coalition occupation

After in March 2003 a U.S.-led coalition had invaded Iraq and had set up a Provisional Authority to rule Iraq, and insurgency against that rule had emerged, JTJ took responsibility for, or was blamed for, dozens of insurgent attacks in 17 months:

Inciting sectarian violence

Nick Berg, seated in front of five men, before his beheading. The terrorist behind him, apparently al Zarqawi, is the one who beheaded him.

Alleged sectarian attacks by the organization included the Imam Ali Mosque bombing in 2003 and the 2004 Day of Ashura bombings (Ashoura massacre) and Karbala and Najaf bombings in 2004. These were precursors to a more widespread campaign of sectarian violence after the organization transitioned to become al-Qaida in Iraq,[25][26] with Al-Zarqawi purportedly declaring an all-out war on Shias[27][28] while claiming responsibility for the Shia mosque bombings.[29]

Beheading/killing non-Iraqi hostages

Beheading of Jack Hensley

The Turk Aytullah Gezmen was also abducted by Jama'at, but released after "repenting."[citation needed]

U.S. fighting Jama'at

In September 2004, the U.S. conducted many airstrikes targeting Zarqawi, calling the catching of Zarqawi "highest priority".[34]


U.S. Navy Seabees in Fallujah, November 2004. Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad fought U.S. and coalition forces during the Iraq War.

The group officially pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network in a letter in October 2004 and changed its official name to Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn (تنظيم قاعدة الجهاد في بلاد الرافدين, "Organization of Jihad's Base in Mesopotamia").[2][5][6] That same month, the group, now popularly referred to as Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), kidnapped and killed Japanese citizen Shosei Koda. In November, al-Zarqawi's network was the main target of the US Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, but its leadership managed to escape the American siege and subsequent storming of the city.

The Lebanese-Palestinian militant group Fatah al-Islam, which was defeated by Lebanese government forces during the 2007 Lebanon conflict, was linked to AQI and led by al-Zarqawi's former companion who had fought alongside him in Iraq.[35] The group may have been linked to the little-known group called "Tawhid and Jihad in Syria",[36] and may have influenced the Palestinian resistance group in Gaza called Tawhid and Jihad Brigades.[37]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "The War between ISIS and al-Qaeda for Supremacy of the Global Jihadist Movement" (PDF). Washington Institute for Near East Policy. June 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (pages 1-2)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, translated by Jeffrey Pool (18 October 2004). "Zarqawi's pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda". Jamestown Foundation. Retrieved 16 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "JamestownFoundation20041018" defined multiple times with different content
  3. Peter Grier, Faye Bowers (May 14, 2004). "Iraq's bin Laden? Zarqawi's rise". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2007-07-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Guide: Armed groups in Iraq". BBC. August 15, 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Zarqawi pledges allegiance to Osama". Dawn. October 18, 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Dawn20041018" defined multiple times with different content
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Al-Zarqawi group vows allegiance to bin Laden". MSNBC. October 18, 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Msnbc20041018" defined multiple times with different content
  7. Gordon Corera (16 December 2004). "Unraveling Zarqawi's al-Qaeda connection". Jamestown Foundation. Retrieved 16 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Mary Anne Weaver: The Short, Violent Life of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The Atlantic. 1 July 2006. retrieved 2 January 2015.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 'The Insurgency'. Transcript from a TV program of FRONTLINE from 21 February 2006. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Al-Qaeda group claims Salim death". BBC News. 19 May 2004. Retrieved 31 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Richard Boucher (15 October 2004). "Foreign Terrorist Organization: Designation of Jama'at al-Tawhid wa'al-Jihad and Aliases". United States Department of State. Archived from the original on 11 July 2007. Retrieved 26 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Gambill, Gary (16 December 2004). "Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi: A Biographical Sketch". Terrorism Monitor. 2 (24): The Jamestown Foundation. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 30 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Postwar Findings About Iraq's WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and How They Compare with Prewar Assessments. 109th Congress, 2nd Session" (PDF). Senate Report on Pre-war Intelligence on Iraq. 8 September 2006. Retrieved 8 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>(See III.G, Conclusions 5 and 6, p.109.)
  14. Benson, Pam (April 7, 2004). "CIA: Zarqawi tape 'probably authentic'". CNN. Retrieved 22 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Mroue, Bassem (6 June 2007). "Alleged Al Qaeda Militant Is Hanged". The Sun. Baghdad. AP. Retrieved 30 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Mohamad Bazzi (February 7, 2005). "Zarqawi kin reportedly bombed shrine in Iraq". Newsday. Retrieved 2007-07-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Emily Hunt (November 15, 2005). "Zarqawi's 'Total War' on Iraqi Shiites Exposes a Divide among Sunni Jihadists". Retrieved 28 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Who Is Abu Zarqawi?". CBS News. May 18, 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 19.7 19.8 "Fast facts about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi". Fox News. June 8, 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Car bomb kills 35 in Baghdad". CNN. June 17, 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Leaders condemn Iraq church bombs". BBC News. 2004-08-02. Archived from the original on 4 November 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  23. "Iraq: 2004 overview". The Knowledge Base. Retrieved July 13, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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External links