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Mission 15 - Force Background & Histories
Mosul - The al Qaeda Connection

Friendly Forces

101st Airborne Division

Out of Ft. Campbell Kentucky, the Screaming Eagles are known for their ferocious air assault operations. With the capability to insert a 4,000 soldier combined task force 150 kilometers into enemy territory in one lift and possessing 281 helicopters, the 101st is the world’s premiere air assault division with unequaled strategic and tactical mobility.

Formed of three brigades plus several separate commands, the 101st normally conducts operations hundreds of kilometers beyond established lines, requiring intense national-level intelligence. The division requires men that can survive being dropped from an airplane behind enemy lines, fight, and win.

In January 1991, the 101st entered Iraq in the deepest combat air assault into enemy territory in the history of the world, capturing thousands of enemy prisoners of war. The 101st was also responsible for tracking down and killing Uday and Qusay Hussein. Back to top

Enemy Forces

Ansar al-Islam
The "Supporters of Islam" came together as a group on September 1, 2001, reportedly as an al Qaeda contingency plan to disperse its cells. They knew there would be US retaliation for the al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.

The group set up a mountain compound in northern Iraq and began imposing their strict interpretation of Islam on the local population within the first week of operations. They introduced harsh Islamic punishments for those who failed to comply with their orders. Amputation, flogging, and stoning to death were appropriate for offenses such as theft, the consumption of alcohol, and adultery. The group murdered women in the streets for refusing to wear the burqa, ambushed and killed 42 Kurdish soldiers, murdered one Kurdistan government official, and attempted to assassinate another.

The 700 members of Ansar have managed to seize several villages near the Iranian border, controlling or displacing 4,000 civilians. Though their base was destroyed by US missiles at the start of the war, Ansar’s members have regrouped in cities like Mosul and carried out suicide bombings of occupying troops and international organizations. Back to top

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
Earlier this year, a letter penned by al-Zarqawi was intercepted by authorities. Long and chilling, the letter was a plea to al Qaeda for assistance in the uprising against Coalition forces in Iraq. al-Zarqawi’s plan of action included murderous attacks and the kidnapping of Americans. The letter was proof-positive al-Zarqawi was a calculating killer, an extraordinary terrorist, and every bit as evil as Osama bin Laden.

In the fall of 2001, Al-Zarqawi was in Afghanistan when US forces began the bombing campaign against Taliban forces. Close to the action, one of al-Zarqawi’s legs was injured to such an extent it would later be amputated. He took refuge in neighboring Iran but was deported soon after when authorities learned he was a fugitive from Jordan. There he had been convicted on numerous counts relating to terrorist plots. The Jordanian courts had issued a death sentence in al-Zarqawi’s absence.

Al-Zarqawi fled from Iran into Iraq. In 2002, he settled in Baghdad, along with two dozen fighters from the Egyptian Islamic Jihad—a terrorist organization that merged with al Qaeda. They set up a weapons lab in northern Iraq and produced deadly ricin to be used in terrorist attacks inside Europe. The plan emerged four months after the lab was complete. Not far from the chemical weapons labs, Al-Zarqawi also ran Ansar al-Islam terror training camps.

To date, Al-Zarqawi is blamed for killing more than 700 people in Iraq. His attacks include the bombings of the Shiite Mosque in Najaf and the Jordanian Embassy and UN headquarters in Baghdad. It was al-Zarqawi who sent assassins to gun down US aide worker Laurence Foley at his home in Jordan, and he masterminded the suicide attack on the port of Basra. al-Zarqawi has been associated with countless terrorist groups and brutal attacks so widespread, his killings span four continents.

al-Zarqawi’s hands are bloodied by some of the most recent - and appalling - events in history: the Madrid train bombings on March 11th that killed 191 people and the publicly-broadcasted beheading of American Nicholas Berg. The group that beheaded South Korean Kim Sun-il displayed a banner behind them which read Jama'at al-Tawhid and Jihad, the name of al-Zarqawi’s militants in Iraq. With quick emergence as a powerful and influential jihadist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi rivals Osama bin Laden as the most sinister terrorist the world over. Back to top



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