BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraqi troops on Monday arrested the head of the Ansar al-Islam insurgent group in Baghdad, US forces said in a statement.
“Iraqi Security Forces arrested the alleged leader of Ansar al-Islam and seven criminal associates during a series of joint security operations conducted in Mansour and Adhamiyah,” it said, referring to areas of Baghdad.
The man, Abu Abdullah Al Shafil, “is believed to have served the terrorist organisation since its inception” and “held association with Osama Bin Laden.”
Ansar al-Islam was created in 2001 by veterans of the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan and had its headquarters in Iraqi Kurdistan, near the border with Iran.
Shortly before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, US special forces and fighters from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan fought Ansar al-Islam whose fighters fled their headquarters.
In September 2003, many Ansar al-Islam members formed the soon-to-be renowned militant group Ansar al-Sunna.
Ansar al-Islam “is allegedly responsible for funding and terrorist operations in Europe and the United Kingdom and is a prominent extremist propaganda distributor,” the statement said.