The Terrorists of Iraq : Inside the Strategy and Tactics of the Iraq Insurgency 2003-2014, Second Edition book cover
1st Edition

The Terrorists of Iraq
Inside the Strategy and Tactics of the Iraq Insurgency 2003-2014, Second Edition

ISBN 9781498706896
Published December 18, 2014 by CRC Press
404 Pages - 56 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The Terrorists of Iraq: Inside the Strategy and Tactics of the Iraq Insurgency 2003-2014, Second Edition is a highly detailed and exhaustive history and analysis of terror groups that both formed the Iraq insurgency and led to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It places heavy emphasis on the history, organization, and personalities of the al-Qaeda in Iraq (now ISIS), the former Baathist regime loyalists, and Shiite insurgents. The book also thoroughly analyzes how Iraq became the center of the ISIS strategy to create an Islamic caliphate in the heart of the Middle East.

As terrorism activity proliferates and spreads globally, this timely second edition provides a solid understanding of how the Iraq insurgency was a born after the U.S.-led invasion, which led to the crisis of today. More specifically, the book:

  • Illustrates the political, combat, and religious strategy as well as street-level tactics of the insurgents
  • Reveals what American, British, and coalition soldiers endured in Iraq on the street every day for eight years, and what the Iraqi army and people now endure
  • Demonstrates how the Iraqis employ very specific terrorist acts at particularly auspicious times to meet their strategic political or propaganda goals during a terror campaign
  • Delineates strategies that the enemy saw as critical in forcing U.S. and coalition forces to withdraw, and the terrorist strategy that besieges the Shiite government that was left behind
  • Includes three new chapters on the evolution of ISIS from al-Qaeda in Iraq (2011-2014), a revised history of al-Qaeda in Iraq (2005-2011), and updated geopolitical intelligence predictions

The Terrorists of Iraq: Inside the Strategy and Tactics of the Iraq Insurgency 2003-2014, Second Edition offers an unbiased examination of the myriad of Iraqi terror groups and the goal of expanding the Islamic State across the Middle East. The book shares knowledge that will hopefully limit the killing machine that is the Iraq insurgency and someday bring about a stable partner in the Middle East.

Table of Contents


About the Author


Section I: Preparation for Insurgency

Who Is Fighting in Iraq?

The Cornerstone of Terror: The Ex-Ba’athist Loyalists

The Iraqi Resistance Movement and the Foreign Mujahideen

Introducing al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI)

Fighting Misperceptions


Victory through Defeat: Saddam Plans for Insurgency

Repeating a Very Bad History?

Unambiguous Indicators

The Prewar Insurgency Plan

The Iraqi War Plan: Embracing Defeat

Mogadishu on the Tigris

Treated as Liberators?


Crucible of the Insurgency: The Fedayeen Goes to War

First Line of Defense—The Air Defense Forces

Second Line of Defense—The Iraqi Army

Third Line of Defense—The Republican Guard

Last Line of Defense—The Paramilitary Irregulars, Terrorists, and Special Republican Guard

The Saddam Fedayeen (Firqah al-Fidayi Saddam)

Commander of the Saddam Fedayeen—Uday Hussein

The Professional Terrorists Arrive—Tawhid Wal-Jihad and al-Qaeda

The Fedayeen Become Terrorists

Invasion and S-VBIEDs—Introduction of the Suicide Car Bomb to Iraq

The Fedayeen Disperse


Victory from the Jaws of Defeat: Launching the Iraq Insurgency

Implementing the Insurgency

The Second "1920 Revolution"

Leading the Resistance—Lt. Gen. Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri

Godfathers of the Insurgency—The Prewar Internal Intelligence Apparatus

Commander of the Security Apparatus—Qusay Hussein

Special Security Organization—SSO (Hijaz al-Amn al-Khas)

Special Republican Guard

Operational Command of the SRG

SRG Combat Units

Iraqi Intelligence Service—IIS (al-Mukahbarat)

Director of Foreign Intelligence (M4)

Directorate of Technical Affairs (M4/4/5)

Directorate of Counterintelligence (M5)

Directorate of Clandestine Operations (M13)

Directorate of Special Operations Department (M14-SOD)

Directorate of Signals Intelligence (M17)

Directorate of Surveillance (M20)

Al Ghafiqi Project Division (M21)

Directorate of Opposition Group Activities (M40)

Directorate of General Security—DGS (Amn al-‘Amm)

Directorate of General Military Intelligence—DGMI (Mudiriyah al-Istikhbarat al-‘Askriah al-‘Ammah or Istikhbarat)

Directorate of Military Security—DMS (Amn al-Askaria)

The DMS Special Operations Unit 999

Former Regime Loyalist Insurgent Groups


National Command of the Islamic Resistance—Unified Mujahideen Command (NCIR-UMC)

NCIR-UMC Senior Command

Regional Commands

FRL Insurgent Roles and Responsibilities

Local Terror Cells/Groups (Insurgent Brigades)

Financing the Insurgency


The Insurgent’s Strategy

The FRL Long-Range Strategy

Military Strategy of the Insurgency

Strategic Phases of the Insurgency

Mission Accomplished: The Primary Goal of the Insurgency Was Breaking the Will of the American People

Tactical Goals

How Many Insurgents Were There?

An Enemy without Gains or Losses

Estimate of the Core Insurgency, 2003–2011

The Original Number and Experience of the Core Cadres

Doing the Math

Terrorist Brigades or Terrorist Battalions?

Size and Roles of the Insurgent Cells

FRL Cells

Iraqi Religious Extremist Cells

Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Foreign Fighters

AQI Cell Composition (2003–2011)

Insurgent Casualties


Section II: Knife Fight in a Phone Booth—Bringing on the Insurgency

Bringing It On

The FRLs Organize

The FRLs Destroy the Evidence

First Strikes of the After-War

Mission Accomplished

CPA Order No. 1—You’re Fired

Phase 1: The Kill Campaign

"This Is Not a Resistance Movement"

"Bring Them On"

Phase 2: The Humiliation Campaign

Enter the Islamic Extremists

The Insurgency Explodes

Phase 3: The Punishment Campaign

The Anti-Shiite Clerics Campaign

The FRL Anti-Human Intelligence Campaign

Phase 4: The Inspire Campaign


Insurgent Weapons and Tactics

Looting the Arsenals

The Improvised Explosive Device (IED)

Daisy Chain IEDs

Super IEDs

Explosively Formed Projectile IEDs

The WMD Program’s High Explosives

The Suicide Bomber

The Suicide Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (S-VBIED)

Poison Gas Attacks by Chemical S-VBIEDs

The Suicide Pedestrian-Borne IED (S-PBIED)

Small Arms—Rifles, Pistols, and Machine Guns

Night Observation Devices

Sniper Weapons Systems

Antitank Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPGs)

Mortars—Indirect Fire Weapons

Artillery and Ground-Fired Aerial Rockets

MANPADS—Man-Portable Air Defense Systems

Other Anti-Air Weapons: Heavy Machine Guns, Aerial IEDs, and Pigeon Clapping

Derelict Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs)


"Jihad Is the Only Way …" Iraqi Islamic Extremists—Ansar al-Islam, Ansar al-Sunnah: The Islamic Army in Iraq and Others

Ansar al-Islam ("Partisans of Islam")

AAI Organization

Military Committee

Military Operations and Tactics

Links to al-Qaeda

Ties to Iran

Operation Viking Hammer

AAI Strategy

AAI in European Terrorism

Ansar al-SunnAH and Jaysh al-Ansar al-Sunnah ("Supporters/Partisans of the Sunni/Army of the Supporters of the Sunni")

AAS Military Committee

Al-Muhajirin Wa al-Ansar

The Islamic Army in Iraq

IAI Tactics

Iraqi Resistance Brigades and Battalions, Terror Cells, and Subunits

Other Minor Iraqi Insurgent Groups

Media and Communiqués


Al-Qaeda and the Foreign Terrorists in Iraq

Arrival of the "Ghost"

The First Commander of AQI—Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (a.k.a. Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, Ahmad Fadhil al-Khalayla, Ahmad Fadeel al-Nazal al-Khalayleh)

AQI Strategic Organization

Al-Zarqawi vs. bin Laden: AQI’s Strategy and Goals

Al-Qaeda Strategy for the Use of Terrorism

Tactical Objectives of AQI Cells

Tactical Goals of AQI Cells

AQI In-Country Organization

AQI Command Staff and Leadership Group (C&L)—Iraq/Syria

Tactical Organization

Logistics and Safe Houses

AQI Weapons

AQI Tactics in Iraq

Direct Martyrdom Attacks

Foreign Mujahideen Groups in Iraq

Foreign Mujahideen Groups and Cells in Iraq

Transiting Syria, 2003–2011: The Expressway to the Jihad

Profile of AQI Operatives and Foreign Fighters in Iraq

Saudi Operatives

Iraqis in AQI

The European Jihadists

The Black Widows of Iraq—AQI Female Operatives

Unto Death—Married Couple Suicide Bombers


Section III: A New Jihad (2004–2011): Bin Laden’s Greatest Gift

Fallujah: The Crucible of the Iraq Jihad

The April 2004 Revolution

Operation Valiant Resolve and the Two-Front War

Could It Get Any Worse? The Mahdi Militia and the Shiite Uprising

Losing Anbar

The Hostage War and the Transition to Sovereignty

Black Thursday—The One-Day Salafist Mini-Jihad


Stepping on Mercury

November 2004—Showdown at Fallujah

Operation Phantom Fury

Resistance in Fallujah Withdraws

Shock and Awe Jihadist Style—The S-VBIED War

The Jihad Reaches Out—AQI Attacks in Jordan

Ending al-Zarqawi


Section IV: No Longer a Wounded Lion: AQI to ISIS (2006–2014)

Al-Qaeda’s Lonely Road to Recovery

The Metamorphosis from AQI to the Islamic State of Iraq (2006–2011)

Formation of the Real Islamic State of Iraq (ISI)

The Syria Civil War—An Opportunity for a Safe Haven and a Nation


Lions of God: ISIS and the Islamic Caliphate (2013–2014)

The al-Baghdadi-Zawahiri Clash

The Winter Offensive of 2013–2014: ISIS Decapitation Attack on Syrian Resistance

The Inter-al-Qaeda Civil War Starts

Operation Lion of God al-Bilawi Phase 1: The Campaign to Seize Western Iraq

ISIS Final Declaration of Independence from al-Qaeda’s Corporate Management Team

Operation Lion of God al-Bilawi Phase 2: Taking Mosul, Anbar, and Central Iraq

Mission Accomplished: ISIS Style

Breaking Bad: ISIS Finally Breaks from al-Qaeda Central

The New Islamic Caliphate


Internal Organization of the ISIS

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (the Levant) (ISIS/ISIL (al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham)) and the Islamic State Caliphate (ISC)

Command and Leadership Apparatus

Leadership Organization

Caliph of the Islamic State Caliphate and Amir al-Mujahideen ("Prince of the Holy Warriors")

Deputy Amir (Naieb al-Amir al-Mujahideen)

Political/Religious Organization

State of Iraq Advisory Council (Shura al-Dawlat al-Iraq)

ISIS Military Council

Past Commanders

Military Council Members

Internal Security Apparatus (Jehaz al-Amn al-Dakili)

Manpower Pool

Women Operatives

Sex Jihad

Child Soldiers

Propaganda and Social Media as Asymmetric Weapons

Populist Warfare Tools

Doling Out Islamic Accepted Punishments (Hudud)

Finance Mechanisms


Welcome to the Jihadist Crescent

The Islamic Caliphate Has Already Become the Heart of al-Qaeda

ISIS May Try to Strike America Directly

Drinking Antifreeze: The Iraqi Sunni’s Mass Suicide Pact of 2014



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Malcolm W. Nance is a counterterrorism and intelligence consultant for the US Special Operations, Homeland Security, and Intelligence agencies, with more than 33 years of experience in combatting radical extremism. An honorably retired Arabic-speaking US Navy intelligence collections operator, field interrogator, and survival, evasion, resistance, and escape specialist, he spent two decades on clandestine antiterrorism and counterterrorism intelligence operations in the Middle East, North Africa, the Balkans, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa in support of the Special Operations and Intelligence Community. He is currently executive director of the Terror Asymmetrics Project on Strategy, Tactics, and Radical Ideologies (TAPSTRI), Hudson, New York, USA.


"... if you took every member of United States Congress and House of Representatives and wrote their collected wisdom on Iraq, it's unlikely they could equal the astuteness of even a single chapter of author Malcolm W. Nance in The Terrorists of Iraq: Inside the Strategy and Tactics of the Iraq Insurgency 2003-2014. It's Nance's overwhelming real-world experiential knowledge of the subject, language, culture, tribal affiliations, and more which make this the overwhelming definitive book on the subject."
—Book review by Ben Rothke, Information Security Professional, writing on

"The second edition of The Terrorists of Iraq comes at a critical time when the world is trying to understand ISIS, its origins, and its place among multiple actors in Iraq. This book is instantly the definitive source on ISIS and Nance demonstrations the often forgotten fact that ISIS has been there all along, evolving with the shifting dynamics in the theater of battle, within the insurgency and in the region. The Terrorists of Iraq remains an essential and well-researched guide for anyone interested in understanding or addressing this horrific period in global history."
—Adam Hinds, former political advisor, United Nations Iraq

"Mandatory reading for personal survival and national security—from the battlefields to the halls of Congress."
—Jay R. Stanka, Managing Editor HUMANI Magazine and U.S. Army Special Forces veteran

"A new and updated edition of Malcolm Nance’s detailed and insightful book, The Terrorists of Iraq, Second Edition, is most welcome news. His inclusion of a new chapter on ISIS and its violent origins in the disintegrating state of Iraq and bloody drive to become a 21st century Caliphate is masterful. He knows the players, their vicious infighting, and their brutal methods like few others. To read his analysis is to understand the make-up and the real threat posed by these latest claimants to forming a Caliphate in these divided lands."
Peter Earnst, founding Executive Director of the International Spy Museum and a 35 year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)


'This book is easy to read, vivid, and offers enormous precious experience and empirical data which make it attractive to policy-makers, scholars, and students'.--Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression