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Iraq's Jordanian Jihadis

With the obvious focus on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Nir Rosen has written an outstanding article for The New York Times with Iraq's Jordanian Jihadis. It's an excellent read.

Azzam was fiercely opposed to Zarqawi and his kind, who, he says, gave jihad a bad name: "We say to people who give funds: Don't give to Zarqawi. Give to Iraqis, give to the Association of Muslim Scholars. They are the right way; our school supports them." The association was founded in the summer of 2003 in Baghdad to unite Iraq's Sunnis and to increase their political leverage. It was led by Sheik Harith al-Dari, whose grandfather had been a leader of the rebellion against the British and whose son, according to insurgents I spoke with, organizes armed resistance. The association, according to members I interviewed, is affiliated with several Iraqi national resistance units, the most important being the 1920 Revolution Brigades and the Iraqi Islamic Army. It also, on occasion, aided Shiites who were opposing the American and allied forces.

Azzam viewed his support for Iraqi resistance as consistent with his support of other indigenous Muslim movements fighting in what the jihadis consider self-defense. "Iraq is a defensive jihad," Azzam insisted. "Troops from abroad came to a Muslim country." He said that the Iraqi jihad was going very well. "Praise God, we were successful," he told me. "Everything is going much better. Much better than we were planning. It won't take like Afghanistan, nine years, to kick the U.S. out. It will be much faster. But we must know our aims and goals. Just exploding cars is not enough. We need a plan for the future. When the Americans leave, we will look for the next place."