Ansar al-IslamAnsar al-Islam (Supporters of Islam) is an Islamist group, promoting a radical interpretation of Islam and holy war. At the beginning of the 2003 invasion of Iraq it controlled about a dozen villages and a range of peaks in northern Iraq on the Iranian border. It has been in conflict with other groups such as the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.
It was formed in December 2001 as a merger of Jund al-Islam (Soldiers of Islam), led by Abu Abdallah al-Shafi'i, and a splinter group from the Islamic Movement in Kurdistan led by Mullah Krekar. Krekar is alleged to be the leader of Ansar al-Islam. He has lived in Norway, where he has refugee status, since 1991. On March 21, 2003 his arrest was ordered by Økokrim, a Norwegian law enforcement agency, to ensure he did not leave the country while accusations that he had threatened terrorist attacks were investigated.
Ansar al-Islam has been accused by the United States of providing a safe haven to al-Qaeda associates, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. According to the US, they had established a camp for the production of poisons, including ricin. The US has also claimed that Ansar al-Islam has links with Saddam Hussein, thus claiming a link between Hussein and al-Qaeda. The claims were rejected by Krekar, and a presentation by Colin Powell to the UN on February 5, 2003 was met with widespread scepticism (see United Nations actions regarding Iraq).