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SITE Publications
The Story of the Lion’s Den of Supporters (Masa’adat al-Ansar), the First al-Qaeda Camp in Iraq, in an Audio Interview with Abu Muhammad al-Salmani
By SITE Institute
June 6, 2006

In April 2006, the Fajr Media Center, a group associated with the mujahideen in Iraq, issued a near two-hour speech voiced by an individual named Abu Muhammad al-Salmani, who describes in great detail the establishment of the first terrorist training camp in Iraq and its infiltration and ultimate destruction by a member of the Syrian intelligence. The camp, Masa?adat al-Ansar (The Lion?s Den of Supporters), was influenced and modeled by the first training camp built in Afghanistan by the mujahideen who would later found al-Qaeda, Usama bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam. Abu Muhammad?s speech is then a historical documentation of the camp and its functions, those involved, including Abu Anas al-Shami, a member of the Shari?a Committee of al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the funding of the camps operations and that of the mujahideen. The initiation of jihad in al-Qaim, a story of duplicity by Abu Moaz and Abu al-Qa?aqa, and descriptions of martyrs and ?heroes? are also included within the speech.

According to Abu Muhammad, the camp was initially moved multiple times, away from al-Anbar due to the strong presence of British forces, and al-Qaim, where Saudi and other foreign mujahideen would enter from the Syrian border, before it settled in Rawa, a desolate region in Western Iraq. He states: ?We went looking for a place bigger than the house-a camp. We went to several places, but we choose an area called Rawa, a good area, far from people, which had places where we were able to hide in the morning and train at night, as well as the ability to train during the day because it was a remote area. So we knew the places where you could camouflage yourself from the enemy, and also the enemy did not have enough experience in finding the Mujahideen?s locations.?

Concurrent with the description of the camp?s activity and jihad initiated in al-Qaim, Abu Muhammad discusses Abu Moaz, a man he suspected of being a traitor early in their meeting, and later, via interrogation, admitted to being a member of the Syrian intelligence. Abu Muhammad claims that he received Israeli Mossad training, and states that it was he who informed American forces of the camp, who would subsequently bomb them. Other individuals, such as Abu Osama and Abu Muhammad al-Lubnani, a Denmark native, are also stated to have suspected Abu Moaz of exhibiting ?incorrect behavior?. From information Abu Moaz provided to the enemy, Abu Muhammad states: ?About 86 youth brothers were killed…others, who were released from prison, carried out suicide operations. Later, we learned that Abu Osama was released from the Saudi prison, collected about $45,000, and brought it to Iraq. The same thing happened to Abu Abbas, but they did not know about each other. They arrived in Fallujah, met there again, and continued fighting, until their death. Abu Osama was killed during the attack on Abu Ghraib prison and was killed with the brothers Abu Muhammad al-Lubnani, and Abu Anas al-Shami?.

The Arabic audio clip, summary, and translation of selected excerpts are provided to our Intel Service members.

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