The Second Soran Unit (SSU) was a Sunni Kurdish militant group formed in 1998 after a group of approximately 350-400 fighters split from the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan (IMK). This splinter group, led by As'ad Muhammad Hasan (also known as Asa Hawleri), included some 60 Arabs who were veterans of the Soviet Jihad. The split occurred because of IMK’s 1997 cooperation with the secular, regional government of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the perception of growing Iranian influence in the IMK. SSU’s rejected such affiliations due to the group’s extreme Salafist orientation.
Soon after its founding, the SSU took control of IMK’s historic base in Biyara in 1998, where it remained centered for over three years. The SSU possessed small and large arms, and a large arsenal of modern weaponry, making it one of the most important military units in the area and one of the best armed of the Kurdish militant groups in Iraq.
In September 2001, the SSU merged with two other groups that were also previously part of the IMK, al-Tawhid Islamic Front and Hamas (not to be confused with the group named Hamas in Iraq or the Palestinian Hamas), to form Jund al-Islam. That group would go on to form the core of what is now Ansar al Islam.
Hasan, better known as Asa Hawleri, was considered to be the 3rd ranking member of Ansar al-Islam and was believed to have been leading the Second Soran Unit when he was captured by U.S. forces.
Asad Muhammad Hasan (1998 to October 10, 2003): Captured.
Ideology & Goals
The Second Soran Force is a radical Salafi militant organization that opposes both secularism and Shi'ism. The SSU looks to impose strict Shariah law over Iraq, with special concern for its imposition over Iraqi Kurdistan. The group's anti-secularist efforts originally focused on the secular regime of Saddam Hussein, but have now been redirected to American forces in the country, which the SSU sees as a "Zionist-Crusader" force.
The SSU's activities remained largely in Iraq. It is unknown if the SSU was in contact with any groups outside of the country. Many of its members, however, were veterans of the Soviet Jihad of the 1980s and had received training Afghanistan.
Targets & Tactics
Because they were never accredited with an attack, little is known about their targets and tactics.
The SSU was a military unit and did not take part in large-scale political activities until after its merger to form Jund al Islam.
Unknown: SSU has not claimed responsibility nor have any authorities attributed any documented attacks to this group.
Relationships with Other Groups
The SSU split from the IMK in 1998 due to ideological differences. From 1998-2001 the SSU was not allied with any other groups in the region. In 2001, the SSU decided to merge with al-Tawhid Islamic Front and Hamas (not to be confused with the group named Hamas in Iraq or the Palestinian Hamas) to form Jund al-Islam, which would later become Ansar al-Islam.
There is little information about the SSU community activities beyond its aim to impose a strict form of Islamic law in and around Biyara, the village where they were based, and to eventually spread this imposition to other areas of Iraq.
^ " Muslim Extremist Caught," The Daily Telegraph, October 16, 2003, p.29, World Edition, LexisNexis Academic
^ "Bin Laden Sets Up Jund al-Islam Group in Iraq'a Kurdistan," Al-Sharq al-Awsat via BBC Monitoring Middle East, September 28, 2001, LexisNexis Academic; Childs, Nick, "US Captures Top Iraqi Militant," BBC Online, October 14, 2003, retrieved from http://new