A profile of Umar Hadid, published on an Islamic State forum, is reproduced below with some interesting and important sections highlighted in bold. Hadid—variously known as Abu Khattab al-Falluji, Abu Khattab al-Ansari, and Abu Khattab al-Iraqi—was a native of Fallujah who took up Salafism in the late 1990s during the rule of Saddam Husayn, leading to clashes with the security forces and Hadid going into internal exile. After the fall of Saddam, Hadid quickly linked up with the elite circles of the nascent Islamic State movement, including its leader Ahmad al-Khalayleh (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi), his deputy Umar Yusef al-Juma (Abu Anas al-Shami), the military leader Mustafa Ramadan Darwish (Abu Muhammad al-Lubnani) and Abu Raghd who set up the Rawa Camp in Anbar Province, said to be the first terrorist training facility of the Iraqi jihad, and Abdallah Najem al-Jawari (Abu Azzam al-Iraqi), the chief financier and Anbar governor in 2004 before being appointed emir of Baghdad in 2005. Hadid was the leader of the insurgency in the two battles at Fallujah in 2004, being killed during the second of them. Continue reading
Manaf Abdul Rahim al-Rawi was the leader of operations in Baghdad for the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), the predecessor to the Islamic State (IS), between 2008 and his arrest in 2010. Al-Rawi had been with IS from its earliest days and his arrest in 2004 only advanced him through the ranks as he networked in prison. Upon release and assumption of the post of wali (governor) of Baghdad, al-Rawi was responsible for some of the worst atrocities in 2009 and 2010 in that city. Al-Rawi was executed in prison in 2013. Continue reading
Abdallah Najem al-Jawari (Abu Azzam al-Iraqi) was something like the Islamic State (IS) movement’s first Finance Minister and a senior regional official, first in his native Anbar—he was from Fallujah—and later in Baghdad. Joining the group quickly after the collapse of the Saddam Husayn regime, al-Jawari was killed in 2005. Al-Jawari remains among those commemorated by IS as founders who set the stage for the current rise of “the State”.
The Islamic State (IS) has named a new official spokesman, Abu Hassan al-Muhajir. Abu Hassan is the fourth man to hold the position of spokesman within the IS movement, and the third since it declared statehood in 2006. Very little is known about Abu Hassan but assessing the history of IS’s media enterprise offers some hints about his profile. Continue reading
About three weeks ago I wrote a piece for The New York Times explaining the evolution of Saddam Hussein’s regime away from the hard-secularism of its Ba’athist origins, and how this had prepared the ground for the Islamic State (IS). I received much positive feedback, but the social media reaction was inevitable: little thought and much anger, particularly from people who view Iraqi history through a political prism and felt I was trying to exculpate George W. Bush. With rare exceptions, the critique could hardly be called thoughtful. So it is nice to finally have such a critique to deal with, from Samuel Helfont and Michael Brill in today’s Foreign Affairs. Continue reading
In April 2015 Der Spiegel published “The Terror Strategist: Secret Files Reveal the Structure of Islamic State” about Samir Abdul Mohammed al-Khlifawi, also known as Haji Bakr a leading military strategist for the Islamic State (IS) and former intelligence officer under Saddam Hussein who helped plan the group’s surge into Syria. That set off a number of other articles speculating on the role of former Baathists and Saddam era military and intelligence men in IS. Some argued that the Baathists were still ideologically Iraqi nationalists who were simply using the organization to return to power. Others said that these men were committed Islamists who joined IS for ideological and religious reasons. To help explain this debate is Kyle Orton, a Middle East analyst, contributing editor to Left Foot Forward and who blogs at The Syrian Intifada. He can followed on Twitter at @ @KyleWOrton. Continue reading