Who's the Emir of the Islamic Army?
Well, we sort of know that he is referred to as 'Abu Osama'; we got this from a poem penned by a poet affiliated with Al-Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq (...its Poet Laureate, if you will) who called upon the Emir of the Islamic Army of Iraq, 'Abu Osama', to pledge allegiance to Abu Omar al-Baghdadi in the wake of the latter's conciliatory yet subtly belittling message.
Running the pseudonym 'Abu Osama' through the gossip mill gives us two likely candidates:
-Khalil al-Mulla Kawwan al-Jebouri (civilian, former Saddam regime functionary, from Dhulu'iyyah, north of Baghdad).
-Brig. Gen. Muhammad 'Abid Mahmoud al-Luheibi (ex-Iraqi Army officer, his brother is Lt. Gen. Ali al-Luheibi, former commander of the Saddam Fedayeen who currently resides in Damascus).
Bets are being placed on the latter: the Saudi press (al-Watan Newspaper) put out a story on April 18 that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's security adviser, Gen. Wafiq al-Samarra'i, had held negotiations on Talabani's behalf in the Jordanian capital Amman with insurgent leaders among whom was Lt. Gen. Ali al-Luheibi. This was untrue (...al-Luheibi hasn't been to Jordan recently) and the newspaper's account was denied by al-Samarra'i himself in a statement released last week.
Furthermore, negotiations with the Islamic Army of Iraq usually go through former Iraqi Army Col. Hussein Salman al-Shimmeri, the IAI's official spokesman, in Amman. Al-Shimmeri is close to Ali al-Luheibi who, according to one account, fronts for his brother, Brig. Gen. Muhammad al-Luheibi, the alleged Emir of the IAI.
The Lheibat are one of these obscure tribes that are spread out all over Iraq and whose origins are disputed. They are likely of a lower Arabian stock, probably of the Sulubba variety.
'Abu Osama' Muhammad al-Luheibi is believed to operate primarily from the Dhulu'iyyah area.
As always with these speculations about the true identities of insurgent leaders nothing is certain or can be ascribed to anything beyond speculation. But figuring out who they are and what their backgrounds are goes a long way towards figuring out their motivation and base of support, and what their next set of moves may be.
The Islamic Army of Iraq is the second most active insurgent group after Al-Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq. Their actions probably account for 15-20 percent of the total violence against U.S. troops, Iraqi government forces and Shi'ite militias; they don't usually target civilians or make use of suicide bombings, but they arbitrarily accuse civilian Shi'ites of belonging to known militias based on very scant information.