Category Archives: Islamic State Defectors

Ahrar al-Sham and Al-Qaeda

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on August 12, 2016

The Islamic State’s (IS) weekly newsletter, al-Naba, interviewed a high-ranking al-Qaeda defector, Abu Ubayda al-Lubnani, across two issues in February and March. Abu Ubayda appeared on a list of prominent clerics supporting IS’s caliphate declaration in February 2014, and two months later his defection from al-Qaeda to IS was announced by al-Battar. Abu Ubayda is described by al-Naba—as best as can be told accurately—as having been a member of al-Qaeda’s: Shura [Consultation] Council, a training officer in its Military Committee, and a counter-intelligence officer. Abu Ubayda is advertised as speaking about many secret aspects of al-Qaeda.

Among the topics Abu Ubayda covers is the alleged infiltration and manipulation of al-Qaeda by foreign intelligence services, specifically Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which is not only a violation of jihadist doctrine by collaborating with an “infidel” and illegitimate state but led to the deaths of a number of senior al-Qaeda leaders.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of what Abu Ubayda has to say relates to al-Qaeda’s attempt to take advantage of the Syrian revolution. This persistent campaign has followed a pattern of disguising al-Qaeda’s presence and attempting to influence and eventually co-opt the rebellion against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. One lever al-Qaeda relied upon, according to Abu Ubayda, was Ahrar al-Sham, an organization that disclaims all connections to al-Qaeda and dissimulates about its ideology. Whatever Ahrar’s dominant ideology, it is simply a fact that it has served as the bridge between the foreign-led jihadists and Syrian Islamists, and its connections to al-Qaeda are evident enough. Abu Ubayda suggests Ahrar’s connections to al-Qaeda are even deeper than they appear. Continue reading

WikiBaghdady Claims to Leak the Islamic State’s Secrets

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on October 8, 2014

Before the account, first published in April 2014, by an ostensible Islamic State (ISIS) defector, “Abu Ahmad”, there was the Twitter account @WikiBaghdady, which released a lot of information in the same vein about the alleged impiousness of the jihadist organization. @WikiBaghdady’s testimony, as collected by Yousef Bin Tashfin, is republished below, with some editions for transliteration and syntax, to ensure its preservation. Continue reading

Testimony of Abu Ahmad: An Islamic State Defector

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on October 2, 2014

A purported defector from the Islamic State, known only as “Abu Ahmad,” released testimony online on 5 April 2014 via the Syrian opposition news site al-Durar al-Shamiya under the heading, “The Concealed Truths About al-Baghdadi’s State”. Abu Ahmad describes himself as “one of the mujahideen in Khorasan [Afghanistan-Pakistan] and Iraq, and now in al-Sham [Syria],” and it is quite clear that Abu Ahmad has defected to al-Qaeda. On 25 September 2014, an English version of this testimony was posted on the Fund for Fallen Allies website. It has been reposted below—with some editions to transliteration and syntax—to avoid it being lost. Continue reading