BBC Monitoring has translated a report of the interrogation of Umar Bizani, a recently captured member of Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi's Al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad. The source of the report, published in Arabic on October 5, is the website of the Lebanese newspaper Al-Mustaqbal of Beirut.
Here are the highlights:
- Umar Bizani, the "emir of Baghdad" in Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi's Al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad group, was captured in the past few weeks and made important confessions.
- Iran supports the activities of the Jordanian extremist al-Zarqawi in Iraq
- Al-Zarqawi has been a frequent visitor to Iran for years.
- During the offensive that the US forces launched on Al-Fallujah in April, Al-Zarqawi moved to Iran.
- Bizani was one of 10 key leaders (emirs) helping Al-Zarqawi to run the Al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad group, whose members total over 2500.
- Al-Zarqawi's escorts who secure his travels number between 15 and 25, but do not include any Iraqi nationals. Iraqi nationals do, however, constitute the "backbone" of the group itself.
- Al-Zarqawi's group does not belong to Al-Qa'idah, but there exist links between the two groups and occasional cooperation between them in Iraq.
- Bizani claimed that Al-Zarqawi had been in Afghanistan and Kabul and had met often with Usamah Bin-Ladin, but had never been a member of Al-Qa'idah. Al-Zarqawi does, however, believes in the ideology of Al-Qa'idah and has admiration for Bin-Ladin.
- Al-Zarqawi now believes that Al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad can replace Al-Qa'idah since it has weakened and no longer has a clear existence in the jihad area.
- The closest group to Al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad is the Ansar Al-Islam group, though there have been rifts, resulting in some members of Ansar Al-Islam moving to Al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad.
- Most members of the Al-Zarqawi group are Islamists, despite some efforts to coopt Saddam's Ba'thist loyalists into the group.
- Ansar Al-Islam has served as a connecting link between Al-Zarqawi and some Iranian parties.
- Al-Zarqawi visited Iran in September 2001 to meet with members of Ansar Al-Islam members who were active in Europe.
- Al-Zarqawi has established ties with Iranian agencies, particularly with Qasim Soleymani, the commander of the al-Quds Corps in the Revolution Guards that are operating in Iraq.
- While in Iran last April, Al-Zarqawi spent several weeks in a Revolution Guards camp in the Mahran area on the border with Iraq. He then returned to Ba'qubah in Iraq with the assistance of Al-Quds Corps.
- With the assistance of the Iraqi organization Ansar Al-Sunna and the Islamic Army in Iraq, Al-Zarqawi succeeded in establishing links with some of the leadership of Al-Mahdi Army, led by Iraqi Shi'i cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, during the fighting in Al-Najaf in May and July.
Labels: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Afghanistan, al Qaeda, Al-Mahdi Army, Al-Qa'idah, Al-Qaeda, Al-Qaida, al-Quds Corps, Al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad Group, Ansar Al-Islam, Iran, Iraq, Qasim Soleymani