Al-Qa‘ida in Iraq (AQI)
Al-Qa‘ida in Iraq (AQI)—also known as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI)—was established
in April 2004 by long-time Sunni extremist
AQI expanded its targeting outside of Iraq in August 2005 by attempting a rocket attack on a US Navy ship in the Port of Aqaba, Jordan, and in November 2005 with the bombing of three hotels in Amman that left 67 dead and more than 150 injured. Al-Zarqawi was killed in a US airstrike on 7 June 2006. The new leader of AQI, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, announced in October 2006 the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), led by Iraqi national Abu Umar al-Baghdadi, in an attempt to politicize AQI’s terrorist activities and place an “Iraqi face” on their efforts.
In 2007 AQI’s continued targeting and repression of Sunni civilians caused a widespread backlash—known as the
High-profile attacks in 2009 and 2010 demonstrated the group’s relevance in
the wake of the Coalition withdrawal from
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi became AQI’s next leader, and the group has continued conducting high-profile attacks in Iraq and participating in global violent extremism. The most violent day of attacks claimed by AQI in more than a year occurred on 5 January 2012, when terrorists employing suicide bombers and car bombs killed at least 72 people and wounded at least 147. The group’s official spokesperson in January 2012 made vague threats against Americans everywhere.
AQI reaffirmed its support for al-Qa‘ida and Ayman al-Zawahiri following Usama Bin Ladin’s death in May 2011. The arrests the same month of two AQI-affiliated Iraqi refugees in Kentucky highlight the potential threat inside the United States from people associated with AQI.