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Ansar al-Islam Seen as Al Qaeda Spinoff

The New York Times reports on documents that were recovered when the Ansar al-Islam base in northern Iraq was overrun by American and Kurdish soldiers. The materials include training manuals in bomb-making and poison manufacture that are more or less identical to those recovered from al Qaeda hideouts in Afghanistan.
There is some history here: “Documents gathered in 2001 by a correspondent for The New York Times 1,300 miles away in Kabul, the Afghan capital, suggested that Al Qaeda was then helping to unify the Islamic groups that became Ansar and was encouraging them to establish strict Islamic rules in villages they controlled.”
These efforts bore fruit in the form of Ansar, which controlled a portion of northern Iraq. The links between Ansar and al Qaeda are clear: “Interviews with prisoners and translations of internal documents and computer disks show that Ansar possessed manuals from Al Qaeda in printed and digital form, ran two training bases with curriculums strikingly similar to those taught in Afghan camps, and managed its affairs much as Al Qaeda did….Moreover, Al Qaeda seeded Ansar with experienced fighters who helped organize the group’s training, administration and ambitions….”
The Ansar discoveries illustrate one of the difficulties of fighting Islamofascism, as described by an American Special Forces officer: “They had Al Qaeda instructors with them, they had an Al Qaeda cadre. One of the problems with Al Qaeda is that it is not a clearly identifiable organization. They don’t wear an Al Qaeda uniform or carry an Al Qaeda passport, but they launch out these professionals who train and start groups.”
And the pan-Arab nature of the Islamofascist movement is evident in the nationalities of Ansar’s members: “[T]he documents also include passports, driver’s licenses, identification cards or university transcripts from young men from Algeria, Sudan, Syria, Morocco, Tunisia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Spain, Italy and Canada.”

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