Tag Archives: Shaker al-Fahdawi

The Leadership Structure of the Islamic State

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 6 August 2017

A year ago, I wrote a report documenting the biographies of Islamic State (IS) leaders and something of the structure of the organisation. Since then, the intricacies of the structure have been further revealed, even as it has somewhat crumbled in practice. The caliphate—the statelet built by IS—has been significantly degraded: the Iraqi “capital”, Mosul, has fallen, and operation to clear the Syrian “capital”, Raqqa, is underway. More significantly, upwards of 40% of those profiled have been killed, so it seemed an opportune moment for an update on who currently leads the world’s most infamous terrorist movement.
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Islamic State Likely To Increase Terrorism Against Turkey

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 7, 2017

Abdulkadir Masharipov (source)

It was an hour into 2017 that the Islamic State (IS) carried out its first act of mass-murder: an IS jihadist attacked the Reina nightclub in Istanbul, massacring thirty-nine people. IS has been attacking Turkey with increasing frequency over the last two years and, since Turkey intervened directly in Syria in August, IS’s media output has elevated the Turks into a priority target for terrorism. The public claim of responsibility by IS for the Reina attack suggests that we are moving into a new era in terms of how IS treats Turkey. Turkey’s increasingly warm relations with Russia have angered many Muslims around the world, providing jihadists an incentive and opportunity, and providing al-Qaeda political space it seemed to have lost to co-opt the Syrian rebellion. It is therefore likely that more bloodshed is to come for Turkey. Continue reading

The Fall of the Islamic State’s Terrorism Director

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on August 31, 2016

Taha Falaha (Abu Muhammad al-Adnani) in al-Naba

Taha Falaha (Abu Muhammad al-Adnani) in al-Naba

The Islamic State confirmed yesterday, via their “news” agency Amaq, that Taha Subhi Falaha had been killed in Aleppo. Falaha had gained global notoriety under his kunya, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, after his September 2014 speech calling on Muslims in the West to “kill any disbeliever” in range, and to at least “spit in his face” if one was unable to find a knife or a car or a rock to do murder with.

Falaha was often referred to as the spokesman of IS, and so he was—the voice of the organization since 2011. He was also from the first generation of the organization, recruited before the invasion of Iraq, one of the few within the organization of that stature. But, as I explained recently in a paper for the Henry Jackson Society that compiled what is known of IS’s leadership, Falaha was much more than a figurehead.

Falaha was the governor of IS-held areas in Syria and the man who oversaw the external terrorist attacks. By now he was the caliph’s effective deputy. Heretofore, IS’s impressive bureaucracy has managed to replace individuals with minimal perturbation. IS will experience few perturbations quite like this.
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Is the Islamic State About to Kill Itself?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on June 7, 2016

Abd al-Rahman al-Qaduli, Amr al-Absi, Tarkhan Batirashvili

Abd al-Rahman al-Qaduli, Amr al-Absi, Tarkhan Batirashvili

The Associated Press reported on Sunday that after a senior Islamic State (IS) commander was struck down by the international coalition in March it set off a witch-hunt inside the organization that led to the killing of thirty-eight IS jihadists at the hands of their own leaders. By AP’s account, IS is now consumed with internal suspicion. The story has some problems, however. Continue reading