Iraq: Islamic Army breaks from al-Qaeda

One of Iraq’s main insurgent groups has confirmed a split with al-Qaeda, according to a spokesman for the dissenting organization. Ibrahim al-Shammari told AlJazeera TV that the Islamic Army in Iraq decided to break from al-Qaeda in Iraq after its members were threatened. “In the beginning, we were dealing with Tawhid and Jihad organisation, which turned into al-Qaeda in Iraq,” he said, his identity hidden for security reasons. “Specifically after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi died, the gap between us [and al-Qaeda] widened, because [they] started to target our members… They killed about 30 of our people, and we definitely don’t recognize their establishment of an Islamic state—we consider it invalid.””

Al-Shammari said his group would be willing to deal with the US if certain conditions are met. “We, the Islamic Army in Iraq, are ready to negotiate, but only with the US congress. They are the representatives of the American people, and the Iraqi resistance represents the Iraqi people. We are ready to establish a dialogue with them, not with the arrogant US administration.”

Al-Shammari said no talks have taken place so far with US officials and that Washington must recognize Iraq’s armed groups as the only genuine representatives of the Iraqi people before any meeting can be considered.

Al-Shammari also said that his group doesn’t consider US forces to be the main enemy in Iraq. “There are two occupations: Iranian and American, and the Iranian one is more dangerous than American because Iran considers Iraq as a part of their country.” (AlJazeera, April 12)

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