Friday, April 13, 2007


Islamic Army in Iraq says Iran is a bigger enemy than the U.S.

Insurgency, Politics
(AP) - An Iraqi militant group has highlighted the split in the ranks of the Iraqi insurgency by having its spokesman give a television interview in which he accuses al-Qaida and its umbrella organization of killing its members and pursuing the wrong policies. "The gap has widened and the injustices committed by some brothers in al-Qaida have increased," Ibrahim al-Shimmari told Al-Jazeera television in an interview broadcast Wednesday and repeated Thursday.
Al-Shimmari was filmed sitting with Al-Jazeera's interviewer in an undisclosed location. He was wearing a red-and-white checkered keffiyeh but his face was blurred by video engineering. Al-Shimmari is the spokesman for the Islamic Army in Iraq, a Sunni militant group that first aired its grievances against al-Qaida and umbrella Islamic State of Iraq on its Web site last week. He took the division further in the TV interview, putting his name to the charges and giving specifics in answer to questions. He accused al-Qaida of killing 30 members of the Islamic Army, and said the Islamic State of Iraq's claim to constitute a state was both inaccurate and incorrect policy.
"We don't recognize (the Islamic State of Iraq). It is void. There is no state under crusader occupation. There is resistance," al-Shimmari said. He was more critical of Iranian influence in Iraq than American, apparently out of opposition to the growing power of Iraq's Shiite majority, a trend that Shiite-dominant Iran supports. "Our goal is to free Iraq from the American and Iranian occupation. There is a bigger Iranian occupation than the American one," he said. "The United States does not claim that Iraq is part of America. It came for its own interests, and that includes its imperialist project ... But Iran regards Iraq as a part of itself."
Al-Shimmari's comments provoked a series of postings on Islamic Web sites by militant sympathizers, who said they were saddened by the split. He said the Islamic Army used to be very close to al-Qaida in Iraq, but the two groups had increasingly diverged since al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike last June. "They killed 30 members of the Islamic Army," he said of al-Qaida.
He attacked Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, accusing him of violating Islamic law as well as sanctioning the "assassination" of fighters and forcing others to surrender their weapons to the umbrella group. The Islamic State of Iraq groups eight Sunni insurgent factions, of whom al-Qaida is deemed the most important. "The dream of every Muslim is to live in an Islamic nation. But an Islamic nation cannot be created in this way. It cannot be created under occupation," al-Shimmari said.
"We have sent our advice to the brothers in al-Qaida, and we sent messages to Sheik Osama bin Laden, the other jihad groups and all the religious scholars," he added, naming the founding leader of the al-Qaida network. He seemed eager to indicate that the division was not irreconcilable. He said the Islamic Army had refrained from turning its guns on al-Qaida.
An Islamic Web site on Thursday carried a message by a person who gave his name as Nabil al-Athari. "It is sad to see what is happening among the fighters in Iraq," he wrote. "The Islamic Army is Sunni and it has been fighting the enemies of religion for a while, just like the Islamic State of Iraq. Both did a lot. We need to bring the two groups together."

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