Army of the Helpers of the Sunnah a Major Insurgent Group
Al-Hayat newspaper in London says it has gotten hold of many memos and videotapes concerning Jaysh Ansar al-Sunnah and pointing to its relationship with the Kurdish radical Islamist group, Ansar al-Islam. The memos say that the Army of the Helpers of the Sunnah (AHS) has carried out 285 attacks against Coalition forces, has killed 1155 persons and wounded 160 [sic], and has destroyed dozens of helicopters, tanks and troop transports.
The memos show that there is a central leadership of the AHS, which follows a leader or “amir” named Abu `Abdullah al-Hasan Bin Mahmud. It refers in numerous places to Ansar al-Islam, the largely Kurdish terrorist group which has some Afghanistan veterans in its ranks. It contains a statement from the organization’s leader, and an explanation of its structure (it comprises a number of jihadi groups operating from the north to the south of the country). Its goal is to create an army under a single leader, which can undertake a practical program not imported from abroad, “depending on the teachings of the pure [Islamic] Law.” It issues a call to “brothers in Islam and jihad to join this army.” (I wonder if the stricture against ‘imports from abroad’ is aimed at keeping independent of al-Qaeda, which would be perceived by Iraqi guerrillas as non-Iraqi in leadership).
Abu Abdullah led the group from last June, when it appears to have been formed, until January 2. (I am not clear here what al-Hayat is trying to say–was the last memo dated Jan. 2, or is there evidence of him stepping down?)
The memos claim that the organization was behind the 29 November attack on Spanish intelligence agents in the village of Latifiyah, which killed 7 and wounded 1 [the memo says ‘wounded 8’]. On 5 Jan. they claim to have killed 8 Canadian and British intelligence agents in two Chevrolets, in Yusufiyah in the southwest of Baghdad [no such incident was reported in wire services around this date according to Lexis Nexis].
Cassettes found with the memos list 6 suicide bombers and detail their missions in recent months.
The materials deny a relationship between AHS and the group known as Volcano.