Counter-Terrorism: The Notorious "Victorious Sect" of Iraq


November 7, 2005: One of several terrorist groups active in Iraq is the Jasyh Taifa al Mansura or "Victorious Sect" (VS) The group was among the first to publicly claim responsibility for attacks on Coaltion forces after the occupation of Iraq in the Spring of 2003. Since then, the VS claims to have conducted liberally hundreds of attacks against coalition forces, several score just in the past six months or so. But Iraqi and Coalition security and intelligence personnel can with certainty only attribute a handful of attacks to the group, which operations in Northern Babil and parts of Baghdad. Moreover, although the VS claims to have five "brigades" operational, even its size is uncertain, as are its ties to other groups. Although pro-VS websites claim links to Al-Qaeda, and some supporters of Al-Qaeda claim there are such ties, other spokesmen claim the group has no ties to the Bin Ladin organization, perhaps a bit of disinformation or perhaps a reflection of confusion in the extremely "flat" world of Islamist terror organizations.

Despite its unusually shady character, VS does well in grabbing headlines. On at least two occasions (in March of 2004 and September of 2005) it declared that it had planted "chemical and biological weapons" in various sites across the country, ready to be used against Iraqi and Coalition military and security forces, though no such weapons have been found. VS has even claimed to have actually used chemical weapons, most recently in an attack on an Interior Ministry building in northern city of Tal Afar early in September, though no evidence of the use of chemicals has been found.

So what is VS? Some analysts believe it's a real terrorist group with a penchant for inflating its successes by claiming "responsibility" for attacks perpetrated by others, some that it's a one of several "fronts" behind which more substantial groups can operate, adopting various guises to throw off Iraqi and Coalition intelligence services, or perhaps an "umbrella" group, under the aegis of which several of the 35 or so terrorist groups active in Iraq and cooperate.


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