With AQI and its Syrian affiliate/rival Al Nusra increasingly in the news, here is a brief rundown of AQI’s history.
Al Qaeda in Iraq got its start in 2003, originally called Jama’at al Tawhid wal Jihad (The Group for Monotheism and Jihad). It was founded by Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a would-be mujahid who got to Afghanistan after the Soviets departed. Unable to take part in the jihad against the Soviets, he turned his attention to overthrowing the Kingdom of Jordan, where he was imprisoned until being released in 1999. He then traveled to Afghanistan and trained with other Islamists near Herat, until traveling to northern Iraq to join forces with Ansar al Islam.
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