A program of the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC). CISAC is a research center at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

Islamic Army in Iraq
The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI) is a Sunni Islamist militant organization created in 2003 with the aim of expelling foreign troops from Iraq.
KEY STATISTICS
2003
FIRST RECORDED ACTIVITY
2004
FIRST ATTACK
2019
PROFILE LAST UPDATED
Profile Contents
Overview
Narrative of the Organization's History
OVERVIEW
Organization
Leadership, Name Changes, Size Estimates, Resources, Geographic Locations
ORGANIZATION
Strategy
Ideology, Aims, Political Activities, Targets and Tactics
STRATEGY
Major Attacks
First Attacks, Largest Attacks, Notable Attacks
MAJOR ATTACKS
Interactions
Foreign Designations and Listings, Community Relations, Relations with Other Groups, State Sponsors and External Influences
INTERACTIONS
Maps
Mapping relationships with other militant groups over time
MAPS
Contact MMP
Send a message to the Mapping Militants team.
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Last updated March 2019
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How to Cite
Mapping Militant Organizations. “Islamic Army in Iraq.” Stanford University. Last modified March 2019. https://cisac.fsi.stanford.edu/mappingmilitants/profiles/islamic-army-iraq
Organizational Overview
Formed: 2003
Disbanded: Likely inactive.
First Attack: August 2004: The IAI took two French journalists hostage in the area between Baghdad and Najaf, demanding that the French parliament lift its ban on Islamic headscarves in public schools. The two journalists were released unharmed in December 2004. (0 killed, 0 wounded)[1] 
Last Attack: June 10, 2014: The IAI fought alongside the Islamic State (IS) when it captured Mosul from the Iraqi army on June 10, 2014. (unknown casualties)[2]
 
Executive Summary
The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI) is a Sunni Islamist militant organization created in 2003 with the aim of expelling foreign troops from Iraq.  From 2003-2011, the group primarily targeted U.S. forces in Iraq. However, in 2006 and 2007, several clashes between IAI and Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) fighters were reported.  The group dissolved itself in 2011 following the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, and its members subsequently created a political activism group called the Sunni Popular Movement. The IAI re-activated in December 2013 to fight against the Maliki government alongside many other Sunni insurgent groups.  Although the IAI has worked with the Islamic State (IS) since its resurgence in 2013, an IAI spokesman indicated that the partnership is one of convenience and that it may soon dissolve. The group’s last known activity was in 2014. As of March 2019, the IAI is believed to likely be inactive.
 
Group Narrative
The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI), also known as the Jaysh al-Islamiya fil Iraq, was a Sunni Islamist militant organization that was active in Iraq during two periods of time: from 2003 to 2011, and from late 2013 to the end of 2014. Although Islamist, the IAI’s rhetoric and membership was more inclusive than many other jihadist groups in the region; the IAI denounced the killing of Christians and Shiites, and it counted both Shiites and Sunni nationalists among its members.[3]
The IAI was formed in 2003 in response to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.  Among the group’s founders was Sheikh Ahmed al-Dabash. Dabash was an influential Sheikh in Baghdad and a leading figure in the Batawi family, one of the country’s largest Sunni tribes. Leveraging his popularity in Iraq, Dabash was able to bring thousands of men into the IAI.[4] The group initially sought to expel all foreign troops and influence, namely American and Iranian, from Iraq. In this vein, the group largely targeted U.S. coalition forces and was known for kidnapping and executing Western nationals from 2003 to 2011.[5]
Following the establishment of the Iraqi provisional government and the appointment of Nouri al-Maliki as Prime Minister in 2005, the IAI articulated a new set of goals. In addition to ridding the country of foreign influence, the IAI now sought to depose Prime Minister Maliki and re-integrate Sunnis and Ba’athists into the Iraqi political process (excluding those directly involved in the Hussein regime).[6] Despite its aversion to the Iraqi government, the IAI allegedly engaged in communications with government officials. In December 2005, the IAI and the Mujahideen Army (MA), another armed group in Iraq, allegedly reached out to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to encourage him to include more resistance groups in Iraq’s political process.[7] Also in 2005, former Iraqi Electricity Minister Ayhamal-Samarra'i claimed that he had met with the leadership of the IAI and the MA to discuss the possibility of bringing the two groups into the political process. Both the IAI and MA denied that the meetings had occurred or that they had authorized anyone to speak with Samarra'i.[8]
Since its founding in 2003, the IAI’s relationship with Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) has varied between one of cooperation and one of open hostility. In the years immediately following the 2003 U.S. invasion, AQI and IAI worked closely with one another. IAI founder Sheikh Ahmed al-Dabash claimed to be like a “brother to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,” the leader of AQI.[9] However, strains soon began to appear in the IAI-AQI relationship. IAI members grew frustrated with AQI’s tactics, which resulted in large numbers of civilian casualties.  In May 2007, the IAI joined with Ansar al-Sunnah Shariah and the Mujahideen Army to form the Reformation and Jihad Front (RJF), an anti-AQI and anti-U.S. umbrella organization. In November 2007, the RJF joined with Hamas Iraq and the Islamic Front of the Iraqi Resistance (JAMI) to form the Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance (PCIR).[10] In coordination with the 1920s Revolutionary Brigades, the Mujahideen Army, and later the RJF, the IAI began to militarily oppose AQI in 2007.[11] Many clashes occurred between the IAI and AQI, most notably in April 2007 when AQI fighters killed more than 30 IAI militants who had refused to join AQI.[12] There is some evidence to suggest that the IAI, or at least some elements within it, participated in the 2006-2007 Sunni Awakening. IAI militants supposedly joined the Awakening Councils to fight AQI and possibly even negotiated with the U.S.[13] However, IAI leadership has always denied these accounts. On June 7, 2007, the IAI announced it had signed a ceasefire with AQI; however, fighting between the two groups appears to have restarted by the November 2007.[14]
Following the U.S. withdrawal in late 2011, the IAI officially disbanded. Many of the  group’s former leaders and members subsequently established a political organization, which they called the Sunni Popular Movement. The Sunni Popular Movement sought to split Iraq into three federal units: a Sunni state, a Kurdish state, and a Shiite state.[15] The Sunni Popular Movement does not appear to have participated in any major elections. Another set of former IAI fighters joined the tribal police forces, known as the Sahwa, in order to fight the Islamic State (IS).
The IAI was re-activated in December 2013, but the repatriation of IAI members to other organizations between 2011-2013 made the new IAI a significantly smaller and weaker organization than it had been in the mid to late 2000s.[16] Upon its remobilization, the IAI initially reached out to the Iraqi government with three demands: (1) the resignation of Prime Minister Maliki; (2) the breaking up of Iraq into three autonomous regions, one for each the Sunnis, the Shiites, and the Kurds; and (3) compensation for the 1.5 million Iraqis that the group claimed were killed by the Americans and Maliki regime. The IAI gave the government an ultimatum: comply with these demands, or the group would join the Sunni insurgency and march on Baghdad. Unsurprisingly, the government did not accept the IAI’s terms.[17]
Despite its pledge to join the Sunni insurgency in 2014, the IAI’s relationship with the Islamic State (IS), the most powerful Sunni insurgent group in Iraq at the time, was far from harmonious. Although the IAI fought alongside IS in the summer and fall of 2014, the groups were ideologically dissimilar.[18] While IS sought the creation of a radical transcontinental Islamist caliphate, the IAI pushed for a federation of autonomous Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish states within the current borders of Iraq that would be ruled by a “softer” and more “modern” version of Shariah Law.[19] Moreover, the IAI disliked IS’s use of violence against civilians and publicly denounced its brutal tactics and targeting of Iraqi citizens. Nonetheless, the two groups united behind the common cause of overthrowing the Iraqi government and expelling foreign troops from the region.[20] However, in mid-2014, IAI leader Sheikh Ahmed al-Dabash hinted that there might soon come a time when the IAI would feel obligated to turn its weapons on the Islamic State. When or how this might happen was unclear.[21]
The last known activity of the group was in 2014. As of March 2019, the IAI is believed to likely be inactive.
 
 
[1] Karacs, Imre. "French Hostages Held Over Scarf Ban," Sunday Times, LexisNexis Academic, 29 August 2004, p. 23.
Buel, Meredith. "Deadly Attack on US Military Base Near Mosul Kills 24." Voice of America, December 2004. Web. 29 May 2010.
[2] Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.
[3] “Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI).” GlobalSecurity.org, Date unknown. Web. 3 August 2015; Abedin, Manhan. "Before Counterinsurgency: Post-2005 Provincial Election Terrorist Trends in Iraq." Jamestown Foundation, 10 March 2005, p. 10; Abdel-Hamid, Hoda. "Inside the Islamic Army of Iraq." Al Jazeera, 20 November 2006. Web. 20 May 2010.
[4] Kohlmann, Evan. "Exclusive:  An Interview with The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI)." NEFA Foundation, July 2008. Web. 20 May 2010; Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.
[5] Abdel-Hamid, Hoda. "Inside the Islamic Army of Iraq." Al Jazeera, 20 November 2006. Web. 1 June 2010.
[6] Bayoumi, Alaa & Harding, Leah. “Mapping Iraq’s fighting groups: a synopsis of the various fighters in Iraq group by religion, culture, region and political agendas.” Al Jazeera, 27 June 2014. 17 July 2014; “Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI).” GlobalSecurity.org, Date unknown. Web. 3 August 2015.
[7] "Mujahideen Army." National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, 1 March 2008. Web. 28 January 2010.
[8] Iraqi 'resistance' rejects elections, some not to target election centres." Aljazeera, 27 February 2010.
[9] Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.
[10] Bakier, Abdul Hameed. “Iraq’s Islamic Mujahideen Profiled by Jihadi Websites: Part Two.” Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Focus 5(41), 3 December 2008. Web. 23 July 2015.
[11] Kohlmann, Evan. "Exclusive:  An Interview with The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI)." NEFA Foundation, July 2008. Web. 20 May 2010; Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015; Roggio, Bill. "Islamic Army of Iraq Splits with Al Qaeda." Long War Journal, April 2007. Web. 9 Jan 2012.
[12] Ridolfo, Kathleen. "Iraq: Al-Qaeda Tactics Lead to Splits Among Insurgents." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 17 April 2007. Web. 30 May 2010.
[13] “Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI).” GlobalSecurity.org, Date unknown. Web. 3 August 2015.
[14] “Sunni group attacks al-Qaeda base.” BBC News, 10 Nov. 2007. Web. 6 Aug. 2015.
[15] “Islamic Army in Iraq.” SITE Intelligence Group Enterprise, Date unknown. Web. 5 Aug. 2015; al-Tamimi, Aymenn Jawad. “Iraq crisis: Key players in Sunni rebellion.” BBC News 1 July 2014. Web. 5 Aug 2015.
[16] “Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI).” Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, 1 July 2014. Web. 2 Aug 2014; al-Tamini, Aymenn. “Islamic Army of Iraq.” Jihad Intel, Date unknown. Web. 5 Aug. 2015.
[17] Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015; al-Tamimi, Aymenn Jawad. “Iraq crisis: Key players in Sunni rebellion.” BBC News 1 July 2014. Web. 5 Aug 2015.
[18] Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.
[19] Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015; “Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI).” GlobalSecurity.org, Date unknown. Web. 3 August 2015.
[20] Islamist Websites Monitor 95. "Jihad Organizations IN Iraq Establish New Front." The Middle East Media Research Institute, 4 May 2007. Web. 9 January 2012; Roggio, Bill. "Islamic Army of Iraq Splits with Al Qaeda." Long War Journal, April 2007. Web. 9 Jan 2012.
[21] Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.
Organizational Structure
Leadership, Name Changes, Size Estimates, Resources, Geographic Locations
LEADERSHIP
Leadership
Sheikh Ahmed al-Dabash (2003-Present): Dabash was one of the founding leaders of the IAI and acted as the group’s spokesman when dealing with the international media.  He was on the U.S.’s Most Wanted list in Iraq for much of the late 2000s.[1] In May 2006, Dabash was captured by U.S. and Iraqi government forces. He subsequently spent two years in an Iraqi prison under interrogation about his alleged involvement in various terrorist attacks.[2] As of March 2019, it is unclear if he is still active in the group. A lack of IAI activity in recent years suggests that the group itself is no longer active.
Ishmael Jubouri (2004-Unknown): Jubouri was a leader of Islamic Army in Iraq; however, little is known about his specific role in the group. He was a Sunni tribal member in central Iraq and supported increasing the frequency of the group’s attacks.[3] As of March 2019, it is unclear if he is still active in the group. A lack of IAI activity in recent years suggests that the group itself is no longer active.
 
 
[1] Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.
[2] American Forces Press Service. “Terrorist Leaders Captured in Iraq; Detainees Released.” U.S. Department of Defense, 31 May 2006. Web. 10 Aug. 2015; Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.
[3] Spinner, Jack. "Marines Widen Their Net South of Baghdad." The Washington Post, 27 November 2004. Web. 3 August 2012.
Strategy
Ideology, Aims, Political Activities, Targets, and Tactics
IDEOLOGY AND GOALS
Ideology And Goals
Nationalist
Sunni
Islamist
 
The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI) was a nationalist, Sunni Islamist organization.  Although the majority of its membership was Sunni, the group also had Ba’athist and Shiite members.[1] The group was relatively moderate in its ideology; it sought to establish an Iraqi federation with three autonomous regions—one Shiite, one Kurdish, and one Sunni—that would be unified under a national government which implemented a “softer” version of Islamic law.[2] In 2014, IAI founder and spokesman Sheikh Ahmed al-Dabash summed up the group’s concept of Islamic law as such: “We oppose the distorted version of Sharia that they [the Islamic State] endorse. Islam is a modern religion and has a lot of justice and mercy for everyone. There is no contradiction between civil development and our interpretation of Sharia law.”[3] In line with this vision of Islam, the IAI strongly condemned tactics that targeted civilians, whether these civilians were Sunni, Shiite, or of any other religion.[4]
In addition to its long-term goal of establishing an Iraqi federation, the IAI also had the more immediate aim of expelling foreign troops and influence from Iraq. The group primarily sought to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq from 2003 until 2011. The IAI also targeted Shiite militias and Iraqi government troops because it believed they were Iranian proxies in Iraq.[5] In 2013, the group adopted a more comprehensive political agenda. The group called for the resignation of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (up until he left office in summer 2014), as well as the inclusion of Kurds and Sunnis in the political process. The IAI also requested compensation for the 1.5 million civilians that it claimed had been killed by U.S. and Iraqi forces between 2003 and 2013.[6]
 
 
[1] Kohlmann, Evan. "Exclusive:  An Interview with The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI)." NEFA Foundation, July 2008. 20 May 2010.
[2] Bayoumi, Alaa & Harding, Leah. “Mapping Iraq’s fighting groups: a synopsis of the various fighters in Iraq group by religion, culture, region and political agendas.” Al Jazeera, 27 June 2014. 17 July 2014; Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015; al-Tamini, Aymenn. “Islamic Army of Iraq.” Jihad Intel, Date unknown. Web. 5 Aug. 2015.
[3] Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.
[4] Islamist Websites Monitor 95. "Jihad Organizations IN Iraq Establish New Front." The Middle East Media Research Institute, 4 May 2007. Web. 9 January 2012; Roggio, Bill. "Islamic Army of Iraq Splits with Al Qaeda." Long War Journal, April 2007. Web. 9 Jan 2012.
[5] Al-Salhy, Suadad. “Iraq Sunni Insurgents keep fighting after U.S. pullout.” Reuters, 29 February 2012. Web. 1 July 2014.
[6] Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.
Major Attacks
Disclaimer: These are some selected major attacks in the militant organization's history. It is not a comprehensive listing but captures some of the most famous attacks or turning points during the campaign.
August 2004: The IAI took two French journalists hostage in the area between Baghdad and Najaf, demanding that the French parliament lift its ban on Islamic headscarves in public schools. The two journalists were released unharmed in December 2004 (0 killed, 0 wounded).[1]
March 24, 2005: The IAI claimed responsibility for a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) that detonated at a city entrance checkpoint in Ar Ramadi, Anbar. The attack killed 11 Iraqi police commandos and wounded 3 Iraqi civilians and 2 U.S. Marines (11 killed, 5 wounded).[2]
June 23, 2005: Ansar al-Sunnah, the Mujahideen Army, and the IAI claimed responsibility for two simultaneous vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attacks in different areas of Bagdad in which seven civilians and three police officers were killed. Ten other civilians were also wounded in the attack (10 killed, 10 wounded).[3]
November 2005: IAI kidnapped U.S. security contractor Ronald Alan Schulz and demanded that all Iraqi prisoners held by the U.S. be released. When the U.S. failed to meet its demands, the IAI released a video of Schulz’s execution (1 killed, 0 wounded).[4]
April 2007: Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) militants attacked and killed 30 IAI fighters after they refused to pledge allegiance to AQI (30+ killed, unknown wounded).[5]
November 9, 2007: The IAI killed 18 AQI militants when it attacked an AQI-held compound near the city of Samarra.  During the attack, 15 IAI fighters were also killed and 16 AQI fighters were captured (33 killed, unknown wounded).[6]
November 17, 2008:  The IAI claimed to have shot down a U.S. helicopter in Mosul.  The U.S. military asserted the helicopter crashed in non-conflict related circumstances (unknown casualties).[7]
January 5, 2009: The IAI claimed responsibility for an IED attack at a gas station in the Karradah district of Baghdad (0 killed, 4 wounded).[8]
February 22, 2014: The Islamic Army of Iraq claimed that it and the Mujahideen Army had coordinated an attack on government forces near al-Karma.  The groups purportedly downed a government helicopter during the fighting (unknown casualties).[9]
June 10, 2014: The IAI fought alongside the Islamic State (IS) when it captured Mosul from the Iraqi army on June 10, 2014 (unknown casualties).[10]
 
 
[1] Karacs, Imre. "French Hostages Held Over Scarf Ban," Sunday Times, LexisNexis Academic, 29 August 2004, p. 23.
Buel, Meredith. "Deadly Attack on US Military Base Near Mosul Kills 24." Voice of America, December 2004. Web. 29 May 2010.              
[2] "Reports on Incidents of Terrorism 2005." NCTC, 11 April 2006, p. 42.         
[3] "Reports on Incidents of Terrorism 2005." NCTC, 11 April 2006, p. 42.
[4] “US Hostage Killed, Iraq Militant Group Says.” NBC News, 8 Dec. 2005. Web. 10 Aug. 2015.
[5] Ridolfo, Kathleen. "Iraq: Al-Qaeda Tactics Lead to Splits Among Insurgents." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 17 April 2007. Web. 30 May 2010.
[6] "Statement from the Islamic Army of Iraq." NEFA Foundation, 2 April 2008. Web. 1 June 2010.
[7] "Reports on Incidents of Terrorism 2005." NCTC, 11 April 2006, p. 42.         
[8] “200901050005.” Global Terrorism Database, START, Date Unknown. Web. 10 Aug 2015.
[9] Jawad al-Tamimi, Aymenn. “Interview with the leader of Iraq’s Jaysh al-Mujahideen: Abd al-Hakim al-Nuaimi.” 17 March 2014. Web. 22 July 2015.
[10] Sherlock, Ruth & Malouf, Cerol. “Islamic Army of Iraq founder: Isis and Sunni Islamists will march on Baghdad.” The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Web. 5 August 2015.
Interactions
Foreign Designations and Listings, Community Relations, Relations with Other Groups, State Sponsors and External Influences
DESIGNATED/LISTED
Designated/Listed
The IAI was not designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, or United Nations.
Maps
The project develops a series of interactive diagrams that “map” relationships among groups and show how those relationships change over time. The user can change map settings to display different features (e.g., leadership changes), adjust the time scale, and trace individual groups.

Global Al Qaeda
http://web.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/maps/view/alqaeda

Iraq
http://web.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/maps/view/iraq
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