Terrorism Profiles

Asbat Al-Ansar (AAA) (The League of Partisans)

Alternative Names:

Osbat Al Ansar; Usbat Al Ansar; Esbat Al-Ansar; Isbat Al Ansar; Usbat-ul-Ansar; Band of Helpers; Band of Partisans; League of the Followers; AAA

Location:

Lebanon

Asbat al-Ansar (AAA) is believed to be largely confined the Lebanese refugee camps. With the base believed to exist in the Ayn al-Hilwah refugee camp in southern Lebanon.

Leadership:

The founder of the group was a Palestinian refugee and preacher, Sheikh Hisham Shreidi. He died in 1991, following an attack by al-Fatah rivals.

After Shreidi’s death the group splintered into three factions, Asbat al-Nour, Jund as-Sham and those that remained under AAA.

The Sheikh’s sons Abdullah and Mohammed lead the faction known as Asbat al-Nour. Following the death of both Abdullah and Mohammed in 2003 and 2004 respectively, this splinter group rejoined the main AAA faction lead the widely accepted successor to the Shiekh, Ahmad Abd al-Karim al-Saadi (aka Abu Mohjen).

The third splinter group known as Jund as-Sham is believed to have been incorporated into Iraq’s Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s Tawhid and Jihad network. Some reports have this faction still fighting against the main AAA group.

During this time, Abu Mohjen and the AAA had been secretly plotting assassinations and attacks. He was eventually convicted in absentia for the assassination of Sheikh Nizar al-Halabi, the leader of a rival Islamic extremist group. Haytham Abd al-Karim al Sa’di (aka Aby Tariq) has replaced his brother Abu Mohjen and is thought to be operating somewhere in Iraq or Lebanon.

Membership:

Estimates from various security agencies place the group’s numbers somewhere between 100-2000 members.

Funding Sources:

It is likely the group received money through international Sunni extremist networks. In addition, many security agencies believe there are ties to Al Qaida. This relationship has been overtly denied by AAA, however, Al Qaida is suspected to provide some funding.

Origins:

It emerged in the late 1980s or early 1990s and was founded by Sheikh Hisham Shreidi. It draws predominantly on individuals from within the refugee population in Lebanon. The focus is on individuals who are alienated by the larger political and militant groups present in the camps, such as Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Fatah.

Major Attacks:

AAA has traditionally targeted the Lebanese state and elements of foreign influence within the country. In addition to the attacks listed below, there have been several failed assassination attempts including attempts on an American Ambassador, the Italian Embassy, the Ukrainian Consulate General and Lebanese Government offices. In recent years, AAA has been tied to a number of bombings at fast food restaurants in Lebanon, as well as embroiled in a continued rivalry with al-Fatah militants.

June 1999: Assassination of four judges in Sidon, Lebanon.

2000: Reports suggest group organized a coup attempt in conjunction with Tafkir wa Hiira extremists.

January 2000: Rocket attack on the Russian Embassy.

June 2003:  Rocket attack on the Hariri affiliated Future TV building in Beirut.

Ideological Roots:

AAA is a Sunni extremist group composed of primarily Palestinian refugees. The group has suspected ties to other Sunni extremist groups and Al Qaida, although it formally denies these claims.

The group shares Al Qaida ideology and has publically demonstrated support for Al Qaida in Iraq. In addition, members of the group have travelled to Iraq since 2005 in order to fight against coalition forces.

Objectives: 

The main objective for AAA is to establish an Islamic state in Lebanon. The group opposes Christian, secular and Shia institutions in the country. The group’s stated goals include disrupting or thwarting perceived anti-Islamic and pro-Western influences in the country.

Tactics: 

The group has focused on using firearms and explosives to carry out attacks. In the early stages, AAA focused on attacking soft targets like churches, clubs, liquor stores and movie theatres.

In the late 1990s  the group increased its attacks to include hard targets such as Ambassadors, governments officials, soldiers, embassies, consulates and government offices.

 The group is also thought to be responsible for several attacks on rival Islamist, militant and religious leaders. This includes Sunnis and other groups who are deemed too moderate.

Recently AAA has been reluctant to involve itself in operations in Lebanon. This is in part due to their concern over losing safe haven in the Ain al-Hilwah refugee camp. 

Updated on December 11,2015. 

References


  1. “Currently Listed Entities.” Public Safety Canada. Government of Canada. Last Modified November 20, 2014. Accessed December 11, 2015. http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/cntr-trrrsm/lstd-ntts/crrnt-lstd-ntts-eng.aspx#2015
  2. “Foreign Terrorist Organizations.” Bureau of Counterterrorism, US State Department. Accessed December 11, 2015. http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2012/209989.htm
  3. “Asbat al-Ansar.” Terrorist Organization Profile. Global Terrorism Database. Accessed December 11, 2015. http://www.start.umd.edu/tops/terrorist_organization_profile.asp?id=4639
  4. “Attack Type-Armed Islamic Group (GIA).” Global Terrorism Database. Accessed December 11, 2015. http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/search/Results.aspx?charttype=pie&chart=weapon&casualties_type=&casualties_max=&perpetrator=100007
  5. “Asbat al-Ansar.” Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium. Accessed December 11, 2015. http://www.trackingterrorism.org/group/asbat-al-ansar
  6. “Appendix G—Statement of Reasons—Asbat al Ansar (AAA).” Joint Committees. Parliament of Australia. Accessed December 11, 2015. http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Completed_Inquiries/pjcis/grouped/report/appendix
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