Category Archives: Jihadi Biographies

Islamic State Profiles the Leadership

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 6 April 2019

Islamic State flag in front of the main gate of Saddam Husayn’s palace in Tikrit, 5 April 2015 // AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED SAWAF

A lengthy document—roughly sixty pages and 12,000 words—was published online on 21 February 2019 containing biographies of twenty-seven senior Islamic State (IS) officials, past and more recent. Those bios that are dated were written between October 2018 and the time of publication, with one exception that was written in the summer of 2018. The author claims to be an IS veteran. While longevity is difficult to prove, the fact that the author provides heretofore unseen images of some of the IS leaders suggests that at a minimum he is an IS operative. Continue reading

Islamic State Obituary for French Jihadist Fabien Clain

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 16 March 2019

Fabien Clain, Al-Naba 173, page 9

The U.S.-led Coalition against the Islamic State (IS) announced on 28 February that it had killed Fabien Clain (Abu Anas al-Firansi), a French citizen. Clain and his brother, Jean-Michel (Abu Uthman), were targeted by a Coalition airstrike in Baghuz, the final pocket of the “caliphate” in eastern Syria, on 20 February. It was unclear what happened to Jean-Michel, though the 173rd edition of IS’s newsletter, Al-Naba, published on 14 March, says (pp. 9-10) that he was killed a few days after Fabien. Continue reading

What Captured ISIS Jihadists Tell Us About the Group

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 2 December 2018

An Islamic State poster near al-Sukhna in the eastern Homs desert, Syria, August 2017 (source)

Over the past week, two members of the Islamic State (IS) have been arrested—a rarity in itself during the Coalition campaign against the group—and both in different ways give a glimpse of archetypes that have made up the organisation, from its inception to its expansion into Syria. Continue reading

State Department Sanctions Abd al-Nasir, a Mysterious Senior ISIS Official

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 20 November 2018

Islamic State video from Wilayat al-Baraka, north of al-Jafra, October 2017

The United States State Department today sanctioned Haji Abd al-Nasir as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT), which covers “foreign persons who have committed, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism”. Abd al-Nasir is a senior official in the Islamic State (IS). Continue reading

The Man Who Made Crime Pay For the Islamic State

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 9 September 2018

The United States has launched at least five raids into Syria to date, all of them against the Islamic State (IS).[1] The second such raid, on 15 May 2015, killed Fathi al-Tunisi (Abu Sayyaf al-Iraqi), who oversaw critical revenue-generating criminal schemes for the group. Al-Tunisi was primarily responsible for the oil industry in eastern Syria, in which capacity he collaborated with Bashar al-Asad’s regime, and he worked as head of the Antiquities Division of IS Diwan al-Rikaz, which translates literally as the “Department of Precious Things That Come Out of the Ground”, usually given as the “Department of Natural Resources”. Al-Tunisi was what is sometimes termed a “middle manager”: the connective tissue between the most senior levels of the leadership and local administrators, ensuring smooth coordination between the two by inter alia keeping the books. In short, the kind of terrorist operative that keeps an organisation going. Continue reading

The Capture of An ISIS Wife

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 21 July 2018

Seda Dudarkaeva (image source)

Turkish police announced on 19 July that they had arrested the wife of Tarkhan Batirashvili (Abu Umar al-Shishani), an Islamic State (IS) commander who was killed two years ago this month in Shirqat, Iraq. The capture brings to the fore a story stretching from senior levels of the Chechen Republic to the Levant. Continue reading

The Death of the Caliph’s Son

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 3 July 2018

Message on the death of Hudayfa al-Badri, released by the Islamic State, 3 July 2018

At around 21:00 on 3 July 2018, in the middle of England’s World Cup match with Colombia, news broke that a son of Islamic State’s leader, Ibrahim al-Badri (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi), had been killed in Homs, western Syria. Continue reading