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Terrorist Group Symbols and Their Relation To The Group’s Ideology

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The Islamic militant group dubbed as the Mujahideen Shura Council or the much-commonly called Council of Holy Warriors was said top have been formed sometime in January 2006 after it announced through the Internet – more specifically on the Jihadist website Hanin Net – that they were primarily formed to resist efforts made by the United States and the Iraqi authorities to win over the Sunni supporters of the insurgency. To elucidate further, the group carried on a very strong goal which is to ‘manage the struggle in the battle of confrontation to ward off the invading kafir (infidels) and their apostate stooges [as well as by] uniting the word of the mujahideen and closing their ranks [and] determining a clear position toward developments and incidents so that people can see things clearly and the truth will not be confused with falsehood.’ Meanwhile, the same group was also been said to be closely allied with the Al Qaeda group which was then headed by Osama Bin Laden.

            However, there is little information as to how the organization really works and who are behind each transaction made by the group. All it has established is that it is closely related with the most powerful and visible insurgent group in Iraq which is the Al Qaeda group then headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

            After Zarqawi died, he was replaced by Abu Hamza al-Muhajir. With this, it has been said that the Shura Council never fails to weaken its force as well as pose temporary or even permanent impediment to the operations of the group since it has numerous leaders who may be tasked outright to carry out the attacks as planned. Apart from its leader, what is said to have been so actively participating in behalf of the group was its smoothly-operating propagandist named Murasel who was probably assigned to update as well as provide releases on a day-to-day activity of the group in a blogsite.

In addition, the Mujahideen Shura Council was said to be an umbrella organization of at least six other insurgent groups which includes: Tenzheem Qa’adah al-Jihad (The Holy Struggle Foundation Organization), Jeish al-Taiifa al-Mansoura (Army of the Victorious Sect), Monotheism Supporters Brigades, Saray al-Jihad Group, al-Ghuraba Brigades, and al-Ahwal Brigades.

            The first activity of the group after it was formed was when a video of Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was posted through the Internet saying that the West is ‘waging a crusader war against Islam.’ At first, the video was casted under doubt especially by the United States intelligence officials. However, it was later found out that indeed the Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq was responsible for proliferating the video tape via Internet after SITE Institute – a United States – based group specializing on tracking terrorist organizations – made a thorough investigation on the source of the said videotape under consideration.

            Based on the analysis made by SITE, the videotape titled “A Message to the People” was said to include al-Zarqawi’s voice which seemingly sends instructions to the mujahideen. In addition, the video tape also depicted the Al-Qaeda leader with a ‘black suit with ammunition hung in his neck and an automatic rifle pointing towards the wall.

            Jordanian native Al-Zarqawi also was shown wearing a ‘black scarf wrapped on his head and around his neck while the flag of was superimposed on the screen. In another scene, he was shown sitting on the floor with three other men, all wearing black masks. It has been said that this video came after an audiotape of Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was shown on Arab television, asking support from the Muslim community in its war against the West. The same video of Zarqawi came after a series of bombings in Egypt that killed almost 24 people.

            It has been said that the flags have been often used in the video footages being sent to members of the media. Although there still has no clear proof as to how these meant, surely the flags were used to manifest their belief and ideology and that is to primarily save their own homeland as well as its people. Moreover, the rifles are said to be used in order to tell the Westerners or rather or even send a much clearer statement that they are those kinds of persons which they must be taken seriously and that they must be feared. By showing that there are armed with high-powered armaments means that they wanted to show the people what they can do in order to attain what they have in their minds and in their hearts. Being so, the flags and the rifles are just but minimal symbolism which can be attached to the group. What needs to be delved with thoroughly is the way this group has been executing their main goal.

It has been said that the videotapes  issued by the Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq declaring the establishment of an Islamic state in Iraq. Depicted is the official spokesman of the Islamic State of Iraq and from its “Ministry of Information,” dressed in white, seated in front of a flag. The flag was said to be having the words which meant, “No God but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger”. A message introducing the video explains that the “state of the truth,” the state of Islam, has been created to protect the Sunni people, and will judge according to the Islamic Shari’a (law), using such as an aegis for the people, and to defend the religion. It also calls upon Muslims to provide financial support, men, and prayers

After several other incidents prior to their first announcement via internet, the Mujahideen Shura Council kidnapped two U.S. soldiers named Private First Class Thomas Lowell Tucker and Private First Class Kristian Menchaca in an attack made in a checkpoint in Youssifiya — a town located in the south of Baghdad which also became the nucleus of the manhunt for their leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Youssifiya is much commonly called the “Triangle of Death”. Eventually, these soldiers were killed. Their remains were located on Youssifiya, three days after the alleged manslaughter. In the same posting, the militant groups had earlier kidnapped four employees from the Russian Embassy.

            Four months after, the Mujahideen Shura Council again released a video urging to declare an Islamic Iraqi stat which is primarily composed of barely six provinces inclusive of Baghdad.

However, the Iraqi government was not dissuaded by the group saying that neither of the provinces mentioned in the said video were under insurgent control. Meanwhile, the Ba’ath Socialist Party had released a statement containing a warning against those who may ‘back [up] any divisive plan under the pretext to protect whatever community.’ This is said to be a strategy to prevent the separation of the Sunni Arab state. Three days after the new video was released, the group arrived in a town named Ramadi and have caused losses to property.

            It has been said that the Iraqi resistance has emerged primarily from the political disenfranchisement and neglect experienced by the Sunni community after the reformation of the Iraqi government into the Iraqi Governing Council in 2003. A majority of resistance fighters have been recruited on the basis of avenging losses to their family or through an Islamist or nationalist ideology.

            Instead of having a single strict command and control structure, the recruitment strategy of the Sunni Iraqi resistance is to maximize the use of localized groups operating in a loose collaboration with a few well recognized national groups. Most of the transnational jihadi groups have entered into a strategic coalition of other resistance groups in order to share whatever resources they have to fully attain their goal thorough a strong polarizing impact to be enforced upon the Iraqi government.

            It also has been said that the Sunni Arab state or much commonly called the Sunni Islamist circles have the biggest number of insurgents being recruited. However, each Islamist circle has a specific area of concentration. To illustrate, political Islamist parties work within democratic structures such as the Party for Justice and Development in Morocco. The transnational Al Qaeda much so with the Mujahideen Shura Council has been fighting against opposition forces in order to redeem their respective homelands.

Abu Massab al-Zarqawi has been the most influential part of the group, as it became internationalized in the advent of its connection with Al-Qaeda network. There has been about 300,000-600,000 dollars secured from the network and the group in order to smuggle and purchase an arsenal of weapons on the Iraqi and regional black markets. The infrastructure of the group expanded to around 600 members, and military training was given to members at their northern Iraq stronghold. Indoctrination training was also given, along with extremely primitive attempts to create poison weapons from several bags of rat poison.

            While in Jordan Al-Zarqawi was influential in founding Tawid al-Jihad, another group that has transferred over to fighting the US in Iraq. Once the Ba’athist regime in Baghdad fell, Al-Zarqawi began to form the network that would eventually become Tandhim al-Qa’ida, or Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which now the Mujahideen Shura Council. In 2004, Al-Zarqawi took an oath of allegiance to Osama Bin Laden, Al-Qa’ida now supposedly has 15 brigades under its command with two martyr’s brigades, and one supposedly composed entirely of Iraqis.

            The extremist groups such as the Mujahideen Shura Council have taken full advantage of media opportunities like internet file sharing, inflammatory tape recordings, and compact discs and videotape recording footage of attacks and atrocities. It has also been said that the militant groups have emerged more centralized through the insurgency, as local jihadi groups have been assimilated and new brigades have been formed from the Iraqi Salafist communities and to perform new tasks like public relations. As earlier stated, the group has been using the venue of the Internet in order to propagate their idealism as well as to reach out to the public most especially with those involved in the mainstream media.

            The migration or the use of Internet by the Mujahideen Shura Council was primarily to conceal and or escape detection in an atmosphere of increased international vigilance. As a result, the organization’s use of the Internet has grown more sophisticated, encompassing financing, recruitment, networking, mobilization, publicity, as well as information dissemination, gathering, and sharing. The group has regularly post releases as well as short videos glorifying the activity of jihadist suicide bombers. In addition, both before and after the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Mujahideen Shura Council has a regular presence on the web where pronouncements are given by Murasel. This growing range of multimedia content includes guerrilla training clips, stills of victims about to be murdered, testimonials of suicide bombers, and epic-themed videos with high production values that romanticize participation in jihad through stylized portraits of mosques and musical scores. To illustrate, there has been several websites associated with the militant group which shows or rather posted a video of captured American contractor Nick Berg being decapitated in Iraq. Other decapitation videos and pictures, including those of Paul Johnson, Kim Sun-il, and Daniel Pearl, were first posted on jihadist websites.

            With the rise of “locally rooted, globally inspired” terrorists, counter-terrorism experts are currently studying how al-Qaeda is using the Internet – through websites, chat rooms, discussion forums, instant messaging, and so on – to inspire a worldwide network of support. To elucidate, the July 7 bombers are to be considered a “globally inspired” terrorist after their use of Internet to plan and coordinate other terrorist attack. These bombers are very well integrated into their local communities.

The publicity opportunities offered by the Internet have been particularly exploited by al-Qaeda

as well as the Mujahideen Shura Council.

            There are a number of features that make al-Zarqawi’s video noteworthy. First of all, al

Zarqawi himself appears unmasked in it, the first time the militant jihadist leader has appeared in this manner. Secondly, the high-quality video was presented as a production of the “Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq.” The formation of the Mujahideen Shura Council in January, and the appointment of the Iraqi Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi as spokesman, fed rumors that al-Zarqawi had been in some way reined in, confined to military rather than political or media functions. The appearance of the logo of the Mujahideen Shura Council alongside the black flag of al-Zarqawi’s al Qaeda in Iraq indicates that one of the purposes of the video’s production was to respond to these concerns. Al-Zarqawi reinforces his profile at the conclusion of the video when he states how he is “honored to be a member of this blessed Council under its blessed leadership, along with my being the Commander of the Organization of al Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers.” Further clarification as to his status comes from the inclusion of the bin Laden excerpt, which spells out that, despite rumors of disaffection between al-Zarqawi and the al-Qaeda leadership under bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, there is a seamless continuity between these, the Shura Council and al-Qaeda in Iraq.

As an example would be the incident that happened sometime in December 2004 where Osama Bin Laden released an audio message by posting it directly to a website rather than sending a copy to al Jazeera as he had done in the past. Analysts said this stratgey made by Bin Laden was primarily to ensure that the copies would not be edited, as some television networks opted to do the same prior to airing. In addition, some analysts also said that these has been done in ordre to get away with the criticism of Saudi Arabia – which was much more vehement than usual in this speech, lasting over an hour – might be removed by al Jazeera editors concerned about offending the Saudi royal family.

            In the past, Alneda.com and Jehad.net were perhaps the most significant al-Qaeda websites. Alneda was initially taken down by an American, but the operators resisted by shifting the site to various servers and strategically shifting content. The U.S. is currently attempting to extradite an information technology specialist Babar Ahmad from the United Kingdom, who is the creator of various English-language al-Qaeda websites such as Azzam.com.Ahmad’s extradition, is opposed by various British Muslim organizations such as the Muslim Association of Britain.

            Finally, at a mid-2005 presentation for U.S. government terrorism analysts Dennis Pluchinsky called the global jihadist movement “Web-directed,” and former CIA deputy director John E. McLaughlin has also said it is now primarily driven today by “ideology and the Internet.”

            It has also been said that Al-Qaeda and Zarqawi’s goal remains to incite chaos and sectarian struggle in Iraq. They are pursuing this strategy in order to provide more freedom of movement and generate more followers for the organization.

Zarqawi has become more explicit in his rhetoric about attacking Shia, now he openly calls for a war on the Rawafidh, or unbelievers. Using Rawafidh as a pseudonym for all Shia, he legitimizes their attacks due to their supposed support to the occupation.

            Meanwhile, it has been said that the creation of the Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq was declared in a January statement posted to a Web site frequently used by Islamic militants. The statement lists six primary points, couched in the rhetoric of Islamic extremism, which affirm the group’s commitment to violent jihad against Americans, Jews, Shiite Muslims and the current Iraqi government. Though the authenticity of the proclamation cannot be verified, attacks previously claimed by member groups have subsequently been claimed in the name of the Council.

The Council also released a second statement, a few days after the first, which stated that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, would step down as “emir” and that a native Iraqi, Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi, would take over the leadership position. It is believed that this leadership change took place in order to cool the rising tensions between foreign terrorists and home-grown militants over the direction of the insurgency.

The formation of the new Mujahideen Shura Council signals a shift toward the unification of formerly independent and distinct terrorist organizations. Its members purportedly include Al Qaeda in Iraq, Jaish al-Taifah al-Mansourah, Ansar al-Tawhid, al-Ghurab’a, al-Jihad al-Islami and al-Ahwa’al Brigades. Though relatively small and obscure, by banding together with Al Qaeda in Iraq they may be able to expand their operational capacity and significantly enhance their ability to strike targets across Iraq. This new dynamic could potentially lead to more lethal and more frequent terror attacks.


Tavernise, Sabrina (2006) “Group Tied to Qaeda Claims it Holds 2 GIS”. The New York Times. Retrieved 20 April 2007 from Website: http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/06/19/news/iraq.php
“Zarqawi models himself after Bin Laden”. (2006). The Intelligence Summit. Retrieved April 25, 2007 from website: http://intelligence-summit.blogspot.com/2006/05/zarqawi-models-himself-after-bin-laden.html

Iraq Research Project”. (2006) Retrieved 20 April 2007 from website:


Iraqi Terrorists Form New Group” (2006). Retrieved 20 April 2007 from website:


Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq Declares the Establishment of the Islamic State in Iraq (2006). Site Institute: Site Publications. Retrieved April 20, 2007 from website:http://www.siteinstitute.org/bin/articles.cgi?ID=publications219406&Category=publications&Subcategory=0

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