The Inside Story of Al-Qaida’s First Terrorist Training Camp in Iraq

By Evan Kohlmann
In April 2006, credible representatives of mujahideen fighting in Iraq released a 2-hour audiotape recorded by an individual identifying himself as “Abu Mohammed al-Salmani.” The purpose of the audiotape was to document the early history of Al-Qaida’s movement in Iraq now headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Among the most interesting excerpts:
– “We thought that the American insult against Iraq was more tolerable than the Iraqi regime [of Saddam Hussein]. The Americans were obviously stronger and had much more sophisticated weapons, but they lacked the acceptance among the public and that made them less dangerous to us than the Iraqi regime—which was able to infiltrate every household in Iraq… I returned to the city of Al-Qaim and I witnessed many men from almost every Arab and Muslim country. These young men from abroad said that they were ready to declare jihad by helping the Iraqi forces in their battles against the Americans—but we told them that those [Iraqi] forces were always renowned for their hatred of Muslims and Islam.”
– “We decided to establish our training camp in the area of Rawa which was secluded and enabled us to train freely. We built several shelters around the camp that enabled us to hide during the day, in case we needed to, and to train at night. We had some experience in building those hiding places. In addition, the enemy did not have the requisite intelligence to locate these hiding places. Subsequently, the training commenced and the young men evinced high levels of excitement and enthusiasm and good Islamic morals. The training course at that camp lasted for approximately 30-45 days.”
– “The city of Al-Qaim was the main city of jihad. Any jihad operations that took place in Iraq—especially in Fallujah—were initiated in Al-Qaim.”
– “Abu Mohammed al-Lubnani… came to us from Denmark where he had lived for all his life. He knew Arabic because both his parents had taught him the language and raised him according to true Islamic values.”
– “Most of the brothers, including the commander, were from Saudi Arabia… brother Abu Usama went to Saudi Arabia to recruit more brothers and raise some money—and when he came back, he had 5 brothers with him, including two who were among those who participated in the attack on the U.S.S. Cole warship in Yemen and later were arrested in Syria… In addition, Abu Usama had brought with him [from Saudi Arabia] a sum of $100,000.”
Alongside the audiotape, the same sources also distributed copies of journalist Essam Diraz’s noted work narrating the early days of Al-Qaida at the Al-Massada camp in Afghanistan during the 1980s. According to the mujahideen, the lessons contained in Diraz’s book greatly “helped the brothers in establishing their own first camp” in Rawa, Iraq.Click to view English translation of audiotape c/o Globalterroralert.com

About Tim McDowell

Colorado ACFEI Member's Homeland Security Weblog
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