Doha: The killing of 12 innocent Nepalese workers in Baghdad recently allegedly carried out by Ansar Al Sunna has shocked some Muslims who claim the group adheres to an ideology that does not preach violence.
Ansar Al Sunna was set up in Egypt in 1951 inspired by the conservative Wahabi school of Islamic thought which basically asked Muslims not to visit graves and seek the blessings of the dead.
The Wahabi school, founded in Saudi Arabia in the 1920s, gets its name from its founder Mohamed Abdul Wahab.
Ansar Al Sunna was founded in Egypt by Mohamed Hamid Al Faqih and it had no political agenda, its objective being religious reform.
By 1956 the movement spread to neighbouring Sudan, which had just gained independence from the British, but it was not politicised until the late 1980s when the National Islamic Front came to power there.
Ansar Al Sunna, though, remained totally non-violent. The movement later spread to other parts of the Arab world but Iraq continued to be an exception because the Baathists led by Saddam Hussain were dead opposed to its philosophy, which believed in pan-Islamism and was against the concept of Arab nationalism.
However, the movement did reach the northern parts of Iraq inhabited by Kurds and was known as Ansarul Islam there. Its leader Mulla Krekar is said to be still hiding in some European country.
Saddam Hussain was so much opposed to Ansar Al Sunna that a book they revere Fatahul Majeed was a taboo in Iraq and its availability with anyone could attract severe punishment from the state.
The term ‘Ansar Al Sunna’ simply means the supporters of the traditions of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) but what their so-called followers in Iraq have done runs counter to his teachings, say Muslims. After the fall of Saddam Hussain, those who privately sympathised with Ansar Al Sunna’s ideology in Iraq came into the open.
Like all other militant groups in the country, they had easy access to weapons which were said to have been supplied in abundance by men from Saddam’s armed forces.
Ansar Al Sunna soon spread its influence in Al Anbar province of Iraq post-Saddam which is known as a Sunni stronghold.
Ramadi and Falluja are the two big cities where the group reportedly enjoys the maximum influence.
There are pockets in Baghdad with Sunni influence and the presence of armed and underground operatives of Ansar Al Sunna cannot be ruled out. This was, though, the first time since the outfit came into existence 53 years ago that one hears of killings carried out by the group anywhere in the Arab world.
“We were immensely shocked to hear of the death of the 12 innocent Nepalese workers allegedly carried out by Ansar Al Sunna in Baghdad recently,” said Abdul Rahman, who claims familiarity with the ideology of Ansar Al Sunna.
It is a totally non-violent movement and what has been done in its name in Iraq has shocked people who have better understanding of its philosophy, he said in remarks to The Peninsula yesterday.
Those who claim to be the followers of Ansar Al Sunna in Iraq seem to be totally swayed by the bloodshed and killing around them, he added.
“But nothing can justify the killing of the poor and helpless Nepalese in the name of religion,” Abdul Rahman stressed.