Ansar al-Islam (AI) was formed in late 2001 as a merger of "Jund al-Islam" and various Islamist factions that splintered from the "Islamic Movement of Kurdistan" (IMK). The new group, comprised mostly of Kurds, adopted a radical approach in its fight to establish an Islamic state in Iraq. Operating in the northern Kurdish regions of Iraq, the group concentrated on its fight against the "Patriotic Union of Kurdistan" (PUK), a secular political party which represents the Kurdish people of Iraq.
Ansar al-Islam has carried out numerous terror attacks in Iraq, which included suicide bombings and assassination attempts at PUK figures. The group is believed to have ties with Al-Qaeda elements, and some of its members have trained in Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. It is said to have provided an entry point for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other Afghan veterans to enter Iraq. Following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the group began to target the coalition forces as well, while cooperating with other radical Islamic groups including Zarqawi's "Al-Qaeda in Iraq" (AQI).
The operational activities of Ansar al-Islam seem to have been reduced significantly in the last few years, and the group's strength and resources remain unclear at this point. However, it is believed small cells of the group are still operating in Iraq, possibly assisting other radical elements in their ongoing fight with the coalition forces.
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