Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad

Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad
(Organization of Monotheism and Jihad)
Participant in the Iraq War

A flag that was in use by Jama'at al-Tawhid wal Jihad in late 2004
Active 1999[1]–17 October 2004[2]

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

Abu Hafs al-Amazighi
Headquarters Fallujah
Area of operations Iraq, limited in Jordan
Became Al-Qaeda in Iraq
Allies Ansar al-Islam
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 . The group started in Jordan in 1999, then became a decentralized network during the Iraqi insurgency (2003–11) with foreign fighters[3] and a considerable Iraqi membership.[4]

Following al-Zarqawi's pledge of allegiance to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network on 17 October 2004, the group became known as al-Qaeda in Iraq or 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-Palestinian 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 Osama bin Laden "which continued until 9/11".[1]

Ideology and motivation

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's interpretation of Islamic takfir—accusing another Muslims 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 motives included what he considered the U.N.'s "gift" of Palestine "to the Jews so they can rape the land and humiliate our people",[9] the U.N.'s support for American "oppressors of Iraq",[9] and the "humiliation [of] our [Muslim] nation".[10]


In Jordan (1999–2001)

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. His network may have been involved in the late 1999 plot to bomb the Millennium celebrations in the United States and Jordan.[11]

In Jordan and Iraq (2001–2002)

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.[12] 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."[12]

Al-Zarqawi and his operatives are held responsible by the US for the assassination of US diplomat Laurence Foley in Jordan in October 2002.[13]

A pair of armed anti-American insurgents in Iraq in 2006

Involvement in the Iraq War (2003–2004)

Following the US invasion of Iraq and the ensuing insurgency, Jama'at became a decentralized militant network fighting against the coalition forces and their Iraqi allies. Jama'at included a growing number of foreign fighters[3][14] and a considerable Iraqi membership, including remnants of Ansar al-Islam.[4][14]

Many foreign fighters arriving in Iraq were not initially associated with Jama'at, but once they were in the country they became dependent on al-Zarqawi's local contacts.[14]

Jama'at's tactics included suicide bombings, often using car bombs, kidnappings, the planting of improvised explosive devices, attacks using rocket-propelled grenades, small arms and mortars, and beheading Iraqi and foreign hostages and distributing video recordings of these acts on the Internet.

The group targeted the Iraqi Security Forces and those assisting the occupation, Iraqi interim officials, Iraqi Shia and Kurdish political and religious figures and institutions, Shia civilians, foreign civilian contractors, United Nations and humanitarian workers, and also Sunni Muslim civilians.[1][14]

Following al-Zarqawi's pledge of allegiance to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network on 17 October 2004, the group became known as al-Qaeda in Iraq or Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn.[2][5][6][7]




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 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the establishment of a governing Provisional Authority, an insurgency quickly emerged. Dozens of insurgent attacks were claimed by, or attributed to, JTJ in the following 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,[26][27] with Al-Zarqawi purportedly declaring an all-out war on Shias,[28][29] while claiming responsibility for the Shia mosque bombings.[30]

Beheading/killing non-Iraqi hostages

Beheading of Jack Hensley

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

U.S. fighting Jama'at

In September 2004, the U.S. conducted many airstrikes targeting Zarqawi, calling the hunt for Zarqawi its "highest priority".[35]


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 pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network in a letter in October 2004 and changed its 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.[36] The group may have been linked to the little-known group called "Tawhid and Jihad in Syria",[37] and may have influenced the Palestinian resistance group in Gaza called Tawhid and Jihad Brigades.[38]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "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. (pages 1-2)
  2. 1 2 3 4 Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, translated by Jeffrey Pool (18 October 2004). "Zarqawi's pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda: From Mu'Asker Al-Battar, Issue 21". Jamestown Foundation. Retrieved 16 September 2014.
  3. 1 2 Peter Grier, Faye Bowers (May 14, 2004). "Iraq's bin Laden? Zarqawi's rise". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Guide: Armed groups in Iraq". BBC. August 15, 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
  5. 1 2 3 "Zarqawi pledges allegiance to Osama". Dawn. Agence France-Presse. 18 October 2004. Archived from the original on 29 December 2007. Retrieved 13 July 2007.
  6. 1 2 3 "Al-Zarqawi group vows allegiance to bin Laden". NBC News. Associated Press. October 18, 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
  7. 1 2 Gordon Corera (16 December 2004). "Unraveling Zarqawi's al-Qaeda connection". Jamestown Foundation. Retrieved 16 September 2014.
  8. Mary Anne Weaver: "The Short, Violent Life of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi". The Atlantic. 1 July 2006. retrieved 2 January 2015.
  9. 1 2 3 'The Insurgency'. Transcript from a TV program of FRONTLINE from 21 February 2006. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  10. 1 2 "Al-Qaeda group claims Salim death". BBC News. 19 May 2004. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  11. Whitlock, Craig (June 8, 2006). "Al-Zarqawi's Biography". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  12. 1 2 "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. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 15, 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2015.(See III.G, Conclusions 5 and 6, p.109.)
  13. 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.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 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.
  15. Benson, Pam (April 7, 2004). "CIA: Zarqawi tape 'probably authentic'". CNN. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  16. Mroue, Bassem (6 June 2007). "Alleged Al Qaeda Militant Is Hanged". The Sun. Baghdad. AP. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  17. Mohamad Bazzi (February 7, 2005). "Zarqawi kin reportedly bombed shrine in Iraq". Newsday. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
  18. Emily Hunt (November 15, 2005). "Zarqawi's 'Total War' on Iraqi Shiites Exposes a Divide among Sunni Jihadists". Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  19. "Who Is Abu Zarqawi?". CBS News. May 18, 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
  20. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Fast facts about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi". Fox News. June 8, 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
  21. "Car bomb kills 35 in Baghdad". CNN. June 17, 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
  22. "Leaders condemn Iraq church bombs". BBC News. 2004-08-02. Archived from the original on January 5, 2007. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  23. Peter Cave (September 14, 2004). "Car bomb kills dozens in Baghdad". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on December 30, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
  24. "Iraq: 2004 overview". The Knowledge Base. Archived from the original on August 27, 2007. Retrieved July 13, 2007.
  25. Aloul, Sahar (19 December 2005). "Zarqawi handed second death penalty in Jordan". The Inquirer. Agence France-Presse. Archived from the original on 29 October 2007.
  26. Atwan, Abdel Bari (20 March 2006). "Al Qaeda's hand in tipping Iraq toward civil war". The Christian Science Monitor.
  27. "Al Qaeda leader in Iraq 'killed by insurgents'". ABC News. 1 May 2007.
  28. "Al-Zarqawi declares war on Iraqi Shia". Al Jazeera. September 14, 2005. Retrieved October 22, 2009.
  29. "Another wave of bombings hit Iraq". International Herald Tribune. 15 September 2005. Archived from the original on 28 October 2007.
  30. Tavernise, Sabrina (17 September 2005). "20 die as insurgents in Iraq target Shiites". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 27 January 2008.
  31. "World | Middle East | 'Zarqawi' beheaded US man in Iraq". BBC News. May 13, 2004. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  32. "Turkish hostage shot to death in Iraq". China Daily. August 3, 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
  33. ‘Video: American Hostage Eugene Armstrong Beheaded’. Weblog ‘Outside the Beltway’, 20 September 2004. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  34. "Beheaded Japanese to be flown home." CNN. November 1, 2004. Retrieved on 25 October 2015.
  35. Brian Ross (September 24, 2004). "Tracking Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi". ABC News. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  36. "Fatah Islam: Obscure group emerges as Lebanon's newest security threat". International Herald Tribune. Associated Press. 20 May 2007. Archived from the original on 25 May 2007.
  37. "Al-Qaida inspired militant group calls on Syrians to kill country's president". International Herald Tribune. Associated Press. 28 May 2007. Archived from the original on June 1, 2007. Retrieved 6 August 2007.
  38. "Palestine: Reporter is dead, claims terror group". The Straits Times. 17 April 2007. Archived from the original on 15 July 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
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