June 15, 2014

The Other Fighting Force That Took Mosul - Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order

“We were betrayed by our own captains and commanders. When we realised they had all left, we changed our uniforms for plains clothes and followed suit,” the 35-year-old told IPS while he queued in Erbil for a flight ticket to Baghdad.

Salem had served in Mosul for over three years and, as most of the soldiers deployed in Iraq´s predominantly Sunni west, he is also Shiite. He said he could not figure out whether the attackers were ISIS fighters or local Sunni militants.

“Why should I bother to defend a community that hates us?” added the former soldier from Samawa – 260 km southeast of Baghdad. “In fact, I reckon many people in Mosul are very happy about all this.” (Source: IPS, June  15, 2014).

The leader of The Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order, a Sufi-Baathist-militant Jihadist group that played a key role in taking Mosul, is Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the former vice-president and Deputy Chairman of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council. He was named head of the Baath party following the execution of Saddam Hussein. He was in hiding during the era of the US occupation of Iraq. "The first visual evidence of his survival surfaced on April 7, 2012 when a video posted online showed him giving a speech," (Wikipedia).

An excerpt from, "Who’s who in the battle for Iraq" by Ishaan Tharoor, The Washington Post, June 12:
The Naqshbandiya take their name from a Sufi Muslim order, but in reality there's nothing mystical about them. The Sunni jihadist militia counts a number of fighters who were once affiliated with the Baathist regime of toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. They have reportedly collaborated with ISIS during its recent march toward Bagdhad.
An excerpt from, "inside mosul: why iraqis are celebrating islamic extremists’ takeover of their city" niqash, June 12:
And ISIS is not alone in Mosul either. In a telephone interview, Abdul Jalil, a prominent member of the Jaysh al-Tariqa al-Naqshbandia militia - also known as the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order or JRTN – confirmed this. The Sunni Muslim Naqshbandi movement – which has links to Saddam Hussein’s former ruling Baath party - calls for an ongoing resistance against “Safavid” occupation of Iraq and is classified as a terrorist organization by many. Jalil told NIQASH there were also other groups fighting alongside ISIS in the province of Ninawa beside his own. These included the military wing of the former Baath party and former officers in the Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein as well as tribal groups from the province. They were all fighting under the command of a body he called the Supreme Military Council.

As to why people had celebrated the arrival of a group like ISIS, Jalil told NIQASH that what was really going on was a popular revolution – that was why local people welcomed these developments, he explained.
The Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order (or Naqshbandi Army) is a resistance organization and one of a number of underground Baathist and Islamist militant insurgency groups in Iraq. It is ostensibly a militant Sufi Muslim organisation named for the Naqshbandi Sufi order, although the group really pursues a more populist ideological line, and is keen to emphasis adherence to different ideologies depending on whichever brings it closer to power. The media also frequently refers to the group by the acronym JRTN, which represents a romanization of its Arabic name. Supreme Command for Jihad and Liberation, technically the name of the umbrella organisation to which JRTN belongs, is also often used to refer to JRTN specifically.