On February 27th, a suicide bomber killed himself, two soldiers of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, or P-U-K, and a Kurdish civilian at a military checkpoint outside Halabja, in northern Iraq. The bomber was reportedly a member of the Ansar [ahn-sahr] al-Islam terrorist group.
Ansar al-Islam is a Kurdish Islamic extremist group organized in 2001. It seeks to impose a Taleban-style regime in the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. It is known to harbor al-Qaida members from Afghanistan, Jordan, and Morocco, as well as Palestinians. It has declared so-called "holy war" on Kurds who reject its extremist ideology. Ansar al-Islam terrorists have murdered P-U-K officials and attempted to assassinate P-U-K leader Barham Salih [bahr-hahm sah-lee]. They have desecrated Sufi Muslim religious shrines, burned schools for girls, and murdered Kurdish women who refused to adhere to their fundamentalist Muslim dress code. In areas under its control, Ansar al-Islam has imposed a Taleban-style regime, banning music, pictures, and beauty salons.
Ansar al-Islam leader Mullah Krekar [kreh-kahr] recently called Osama bin Laden "the jewel in the crown of Islam." Ansar al-Islam terrorists have trained in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan and receive logistical support from al-Qaida. They have a close association with senior al-Qaida terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi [ah-boo MOO-sahb ahl-zahr-kah-wee], an Osama bin Laden collaborator. Zarqawi is a poison and chemical weapons expert. His network has established a poison and explosives training camp in territory controlled by Ansar al-Islam.
Following the overthrow of the Taleban regime in Afghanistan, al-Qaida terrorists received safe haven in the area controlled by Ansar al-Islam. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell pointed out this fact in his February 5th address to the United Nations Security Council. Two Ansar al-Islam terrorists captured by the P-U-K recently told a Western newspaper that two former Iraqi intelligence officers are among the Ansar al-Islam leadership.
The Kurds of northern Iraq have suffered greatly from terrorism and the repression of Saddam Hussein. They should not be subjected to the terrorism and repression of an al-Qaida affiliate working with the Iraqi dictator.