Abu al-Waleed al-Salafi, whose complete history of Jamaat Ansar al-Islam I have previously translated, has also written Twitter essays on Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and compiled lists of names of individuals who came to hold key positions within the ranks of the Islamic State and its leaders. I have also translated these essays. I do not necessarily vouch for all the information presented here and working out exact datings can be difficult. Nonetheless I have tried to summarize the most important information in a table below. Explanatory notes of my own occur in square brackets. If more data become available I will add them to this post as updates. Readers should pay particular attention to cases of overlap: that is, where an individual holds more than one leadership position in the organzation. Of interest also is the shift to the establishment of a military council during Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s tenure as overall leader.
|Leader||Overall deputy||Iraq deputy||Syria deputy||War Minister (followed by head of Military Council)||Hay’at al-Arkan||Media||Security||Shura Council|
|Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi||Abu Anas al-Shami, Abu Muhammad al-Lubnani, Abu Talha al-Ansari||Abu Maysara al-Iraqi||Abu Muhammad al-Lubnani||Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi|
|Abu Hamza al-Muhajir||Abu Abdullah al-BaghdadiAbu Abd al-Rahman al-Ansari|
|Abu Omar al-Baghdadi||Abu Abd al-Rahman al-FellahiAbu Hamza al-Muhajir||Abu Hamza al-Muhajir||Abu Muhammad al-MashhadaniAbu Abdullah al-Jiburi/Ahmad al-Ta’i|
|Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi||Hajji BakrAbu Muslim al-Turkomani||Abu Muslim al-Turkomani||Abu Ali al-Anbari||Al-Nasir li-Din Allah Abu Sulayman||Abu Ahmad al-Alwani||Abu Muhammad al-AdnaniAbu al-Athir al-Absi/Bandar Sha’alan/Dr. Wa’el al-Rawi||Abu Ahmad al-Badri [Syria]Abu Omar al-Turkomani [Iraq then general]||Abu Arkan al-Ameri|
|Abu Ali al-Anbari [aka Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Afri]||Abu Fatima al-Jiburi||Abu al-Athir al-Absi [previously linked to Syrian Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen & ISIS wali of Aleppo province]||Hajji BakrAbu Abd al-Rahman al-BaylawiAbu Muslim al-TurkomaniAbu Saleh al-Obaidi||Abu Omar al-Hadithi||Abu Muhannad al-SuwaydawiAbu Ali al-AnbariIyad al-Jumaili||Abu Bakr al-Khatouni|
Text by Abu al-Waleed al-Salafi
-Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is not a person of random pulse but rather has attained knowledge that his peers could not enjoy since he has known well the schools of Sufi thought and the Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] and he was a jihadi before the fall of Baghdad originally.
-Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has an attractive charisma and a calm composure that is impossible to compare, for you find him speaking in high quality language, attractive calmness and the tone of the one victorious even in the harshest circumstances.
– Psychological analysis of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s personality points to a truth not accepting debate: and it is that he is a personality that does not speak frivolously, but rather he is a man who does not speak a word unless he implements it.
– I have analysed the speeches of Baghdadi and Adnani psychologically more than once, and I found a result: that Adnani’s speech seeks to inspire zeal in the soul, while Baghdadi’s speech seeks to inspire calm.
– Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, despite the fact that he studied at the hand of the Ikhwan and the Maturidis in university, apart from the fact that he took their thoughts to benefit from them, but he was very different from them in ideology.
– Baghdadi was known for his firmness in the field of da’wa since the days of the Ba’ath in Iraq, and this personality of his enabled him to be a Shari’i official. Then he gradually moved up the ranks till he reached the leadership.
– Baghdadi did not suddenly attain the leadership or in the darkness of oppression, as some journalists narrate, but rather he gradually moved up in a number of positions until he reached the leadership, and this is a well-known matter.
– Baghdadi got involved in jihadi formations since the fall of Baghdad in 2003, and it is not as some reports relate that he was far from the field.
– Baghdadi was a student of Shari’i knowledge, and he combined academic study in university with study at the hands of the mashaykh, and he was outstanding in study of the Qur’an.
– Baghdadi was from Jaysh Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama’at, then [late 2006] he became a Shari’i official in the Dawlat al-Iraq [Islamic State of Iraq], then courier official, then an official of the Shari’i committees, then subsequently amir of the Dawla.
– Baghdadi sought ‘Ilm [Islamic knowledge] at the hands of mashaykh from many schools of thought, and this was a cause in the formation of his personality, as he sought ‘Ilm at the hands of Abu Abdullah al-Mansur, the amir of Jaysh al-Mujahideen [cf. here]
– Before the fall of Baghdad, Baghdadi had an Islamist direction that no one could condemn, but rather he was given the nickname by those who know him as “The Believer,” not to mention his status as a preacher in one of the mosques of Baghdad.
– Baghdadi operated in the ranks of ‘Ansar al-Tawheed’, one of the formations of Jaysh al-Mujahideen, while Baghdadi’s sister married the amir of this faction [c. 2005]
– Baghdadi entered prison in 2004, and he was imprisoned in Bucca in Basra, south of Iraq. And his entry into prison was a new point in his life that drew up his future subsequently.
– Baghdadi’s charisma made him qualified to be a person of importance inside the prison, for he was the side that would resolve disputes between adversaries, just as he would guide them in prayer.
– Baghdadi’s personality made the situation suitable for there to be a type of connection between military officers and Shari’i leaders in al-Qa’ida, especially after the repentance of these officers from the Ba’ath.
– Baghdadi was able during the time of his imprisonment to find a type of bond of connection between the repenting officers and the Shari’i leaders in the al-Qa’ida organization, and this made them contribute greatly in the building of the Dawla
– Baghdadi left prison, announced bay’a [allegiance] and he became one of the Shari’i officials, then he began to rise up in the ranks after them, then he became the courier official moving between the regions.
– Also in the Dawlat al-Iraq, Baghdadi became an official for the Shari’i committees, and Baghdadi was on good terms with the leaders of Jaysh al-Mujahideen especially in al-Karma [just east of Fallujah]
– Baghdadi’s relations with some of the leaders of Jaysh al-Mujahideen were good, and that on the basis that he was in the ranks of the army, and on the basis of his closeness to it, and among them Mahmoud al-Karaghouli and his brothers.
– The time that Baghdadi spent in Bucca prison, made most of the leaders in al-Qa’ida attracted to his personality, that because they saw in him outstanding personality.
– After the killing of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the amir of Dawlat al-Iraq and Abu Hamza al-Muhajir the war minister in the well-known event , the Majlis Shura of Dawlat al-Iraq gathered to elect a new leader.
– The decision came on the part of the Majlis Shura of Dawlat al-Iraq, to elect Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by majority, as 9 of the 11 members in the Majlis Shura elected him, just as the war minister was elected.
– Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was elected as amir of Dawlat al-Iraq, and his companion al-Nasir li-Din Allah Abu Sulayman was elected as war minister, and he was the wali [provincial governor] of Anbar Abu Ibrahim Nu’man.
– It was for the ascendancy of Abu Bakr, Abu Ibrahim, Abu Haydara and Hadhifa and others besides them, a great mark in drawing the line of events subsequently, and the period of the desert [/wilderness] was among the hardest periods on the Dawla.
– Abu Ibrahim Nu’man al-Zaidi the war minister was killed [February 2011], and his death was the end of the “war minister” stage and the building of the stage of establishing the military council for the Dawlat al-Iraq.
– Baghdadi was able to bring together the advantages of the repentant military commanders and the leaders of al-Qa’ida in a blending operation from which he benefited for the expansion of the capabilities of Dawlat al-Iraq.
– Among these people: al-Ansari [Hajji Bakr], al-Baylawi, al-Suwaydawi [Abu Ayman al-Iraqi], [Abu Ahmad] al-Alwani, [Abu Muslim] al-Turkomani, [Abu Fatima] al-Jiburi [aka Abu Fatima al-Ansari], and [Abu Arkan] al-Amiri as military commanders, while [Abu Abd al-Rahman] al-Talibani, [Abu Muslim] al-Masri and [Abu Muhammad] al-Ani as Shari’i officials.
– In addition to Abu Ali al-Anbari, Abu Nabil al-Anbari [Abu Mughira al-Qahtani: recently killed in Libya], Abu Fatima [al-Ansari], [Abu Hajer] al-Assafi and others besides them for whom there is not enough space to mention all of them. And this integration was an introduction for a new stage.
– The establishment of the military council for Dawlat al-Iraq under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Ansari known as Hajji Bakr was a great influence on the broadening of the scope of operations in Iraq and al-Sham subsequently.
– The desert had a role in polishing leaders and members of Dawlat al-Iraq, and despite the fact that the harshness was cruel in the days of the desert, but Baghdadi initiated to send assistance to al-Sham, for that was [Jabhat] al-Nusra.
– The military council in Dawlat al-Iraq had the greatest role in establishing al-Nusra, and Hajji Bakr had the greatest influence. Then the Dawla expanded to al-Sham and after that al-Hajji Bakr was killed.
– After Hajji Bakr was killed, there arose for Baghdadi two wings: one wing in Iraq under al-Turkomani’s leadership, and a wing in al-Sham under al-Anbari’s leadership, and al-Baylawi was a coordinator between the wilayas [provinces].
– Preparation was done to enter Mosul, and the matter was with the planning of al-Baylawi, and the Dawla entered Mosul, seized it, and then the Caliphate was announced after a short time.
– After al-Baylawi’s killing [early June 2014 just before fall of Mosul], al-Suwaydawi took his place, and al-Turkomani and al-Anbari continued to operate, and after that al-Alwani was killed [late 2014], then al-Suwaydawi [November 2014], then al-Turkomani [killed in August 2015], then Abu Nabil al-Anbari [November 2015].
– After the killing of all of these people, Abu Ali al-Anbari became the second man [i.e. right-hand man similar to Hajji Bakr], and Abu Omar al-Hadithi the head of the Hay’at al-Arkan in succession to al-Alwani, and al-Jiburi succeeded al-Turkomani.
– So after the killing of these commanders, Baghdadi’s inner circle has become al-Adnani, [Abu Ali] al-Anbari, [Abu Omar] al-Hadithi, [Abu Fatima] al-Jiburi and [Abu Saleh] al-Obaidi.
– Also Abu Hamam Turki al-Bin’ali is considered among the most distinguished Shari’i officials in the Dawla, especially after [the death of] Othman Al Nazeh [killed in Kobani airstrikes], Abu Bakr al-Qahtani [a Saudi cleric] and others besides them from the leaders.
– Also the prisons became crowded with leaders from the first line for the Dawla, especially Mullah Abu al-Harith al-Jiburi, Abu Zayd al-Mashhadani and Abu Suhaib al-Shari’i and others besides them.
– Al-Baghdadi declares the Ba’ath party to be disbelievers and he has no link with them, and he is not as some claim close to the Ba’athists, for no one is accepted except after disavowing the Ba’ath party.
– Rather Baghdad has strived to put an end to the Ba’ath’s existence, as happened after the seizure of Salah al-Din after the seizure of Salah al-Din at the hands of Abu Nabil al-Anbari, as also happened in the regions of eastern Diyala [i.e. mainly Jalula’ and Sa’adiya, two towns seized by the Islamic State, which subjugated the Ba’athist insurgents in these localities].
– Also he put an end to the existence of the Naqshbandia in Mosul, and this happened at the hands of Radhwan al-Hamdouni and Abu Bakr al-Khatouni, especially after the Ba’ath tried to hold the reins of initiative.
– So Baghdadi has no link with the Ba’ath party and Izzat al-Douri, and that becomes clear from the events, al-Douri’s speech that condemned the Dawla, and from the statements of the Jaysh Rijal al-Tariqat al-Naqshbandia.
– Baghdadi has been able to refute all the accusations that were directed against him of collaboration with organizations, and this issue has been refuted through the reality on the ground, not merely through theory and speeches.
– Baghdadi has responded to those who accused him of Ba’athism by putting an end to the role of the Ba’ath, and he responded to those who accused him of collaboration with Iran through the totality of the generals who were killed at the hands of his men.
– And he responded to those who accused him of collaboration with the regime of Bashar by storming the regime in Tabqa, Tadmur and other places, and he responded to those who accused him of collaboration with Maliki by putting an end to Maliki’s army.
– And he responded to those who accused him of collaboration with the Gulf by operations inside those states, then he responded to those who accused him of collaboration with Russia by bringing down the aircraft.
– And he responded to those who accused him of collaboration with Israel by targeting tourists, and the clearest responses to the lie of claims of his collaboration with the West is the international coalition that was established against him.
[Appendix by Abu Waleed al-Salafi]
– Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi sought academic knowledge at the hands of some of the mashaykh and professors in university and he sought knowledge at the hands of the amir of Jaysh al-Mujahideen Abu Sa’id al-Isawi.
– Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi did not seek refuge under an organization after the fall of Baghdad but rather he was a caller and after the fall he entered into some of the factions and gave allegiance after them.
– Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is not a product of 2006 as some narrated but rather he was in the factions since 2003 and he was imprisoned in 2004 and was a Shari’i official.
– Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was on good terms with the leadership of Jaysh al-Mujahideen including Mahmoud al-Karaghouli who was killed in the Dhara’ Dijlah region in 2007.
– Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was not appointed by Hajji Bakr as some narrate but rather he was chosen by 9 members of the Majlis Shura of Dawlat al-Iraq from among 11 members.
– Jabhat al-Nusra was established by order of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and with his direct oversight but Abu Bakr al-Ansari had the clear role in its establishment.
– The Dawla lost some of its founding leaders but it continued to enjoy other leaders of calibre and this is clear through the chronological series of assumption of these leaders since 2003.
– After the killing of Zarqawi, three candidates were put for the leaders after him and they were [Abu Fatima] al-Jiburi, al-Mashhadani and al-Muhajir but the Majlis Shura agreed on appointing al-Muhajir for the leadership. Then Muhajir gave allegiance to the first Baghdadi [Abu Omar al-Baghdadi] […].
– The military commanders were of ranks of amirs when there was Zarqawi and then Abu [Hamza] al-Muhajir and after the establishment of the Dawlat al-Iraq the position of war minister was set up and it was for al-Muhajir.
– After the killing of al-Muhajir, Abu Ibrahim Nu’man al-Zaidi assumed the position and his nickname was al-Nasir li-Din Allah and after his killing, this position was abolished and the military council was established.
– The military council included seniors of the leaders of the Dawla headed by Abu Bakr al-Ansari and after his killing [January 2014] supervision of it was assumed by Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Baylawi then Abu Muslim al-Turkomani.
– After the killing of al-Baylawi and al-Turkomani, the position was assumed by Abu Saleh al-Obaidi known by the name of Abu Saleh Hayfa and he is among those close to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and among his inner circle [reportedly killed in Deir az-Zor in December 2015].
– After the establishment of the military council and the expansion in Iraq and Syria, the Hay’at al-Arkan was established under the leadership of Abu Ahmad al-Alwani and after him it was assumed by Abu Omar al-Hadithi.
– The portfolio of military development was under the supervision of Abu Muhammad al-Lubnani [[real name Mustafa Ramadan Darwish] in the days of Zarqawi, and after his killing the matter was assumed by Abu Abdullah al-Ani and then Abu Ghazwan al-Hayali.
– And after al-Hayali’s killing [November 2008], the portfolio was assumed by the chemist Abu Malek al-Sab’awi and there was with him the engineer Abu Muhammad al-Muhajir al-Masri then the matter was assumed after them by the engineer Taha al-Dulaimi.
– The media portfolio was for Abu Maysara al-Iraqi in the days of Zarqawi [biography here] then the matter was assumed by Abu Zayd al-Mashhadani [aka Abu Muhammad al-Mashhadani], then Abu Abdullah al-Jiburi, then Abu Muhammad al-Adnani.
– These men have been in the capacity of official spokesman as for the portfolio of media official as a portfolio it has been in the hands of Dr. Wa’el al-Rawi, Bandar al-Sha’alan and Abu al-Athir al-Absi, but the portfolio in the overall sense has been in Dr. Wa’el’s hands.
– The security portfolio was in the hands of Abu Muhammad al-Lubnani, then Abu al-Huda [al-Ansari], then [Abu Abdullah] Muhammad al-Nuri, then Abu Azzam [al-Ansari], and when there was the expansion to al-Sham, Abd al-Nasir assumed the position.
– And after them Abu Ahmad al-Badri became the official of the security portfolio in al-Sham and Abu Omar al-Turkomani the official of the security portfolio in Iraq and then became the general security official.
– Then Abu Muhannad al-Suwaydawi assumed this matter and after his killing Abu Ali al-Anbari took over this portfolio on a temporary basis, then Iyad al-Jumaili assumed it.
– The Shari’i judiciary was in the hands of Abu Anas al-Shami [killed in September 2004], then Abu Sulayman al-Otaibi [he eventually defected], then Abu Ishaq al-Jiburi [c. August-September 2007, appointed as a replacement], then Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Iraqi, then Abu Muslim al-Masri, then Abu Assam [al-Jiburi].
– The Shari’a committees were in the hands of Abu Anas al-Shami, then Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Iraqi, then Abu Hamza al-Baghdadi, then Abu Khalid [al-Ansari] with participation after them of a number of personalities in them.
– Including Abu Bakr al-Qahtani, Abu al-Bara’ Al Nazeh, then it expanded further after the arrival of Abu Himam Turki al-Bin’ali but the general Shari’i official is Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Talibani al-Kurdi.
– Also there are a number of other personalities on the Shari’i and judicial side, some killed, some still alive, and some still in prison:
– Among them Abu Muhammad al-Ani, Abu Anas al-Nashwan, Abu al-Mundhar Omar, Shaker Nu’am Allah, and he is among the seniors of the Shari’i officials, and the thinker and Shari’i guy Sabah al-Ani and the judge Abu Muslim al-Masri, and Abu Mahmoud al-Lami, Mullah Abu Harith al-Jiburi, and others in prison now.
– The Shura Council was under the leadership of Zarqawi in al-Qa’ida and when the Shura Council was established, Abdullah al-Baghdadi assumed the matter, then [Abu Abd al-Rahman] al-Ansari, then Abu Arkan al-Ameri [reportedly killed in December 2015], then [Abu Bakr] al-Khatouni.
– The position of deputy head of the pyramid: Zarqawi had a number of deputies, including Abu Anas al-Shami, Abu Muhammad al-Lubnani and Abu Talha al-Ansari.
– After them the matter was assumed by Abu Abdullah then Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Fellahi [2007: first cabinet of ISI ministers, appointed ‘prime minister’], and when Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi assumed [the leadership], Abu Bakr al-Ansari [Hajji Bakr] became his deputy, and after Hajji Bakr’s killing, there arose two deputies: the Iraq deputy Abu Muslim al-Turkomani, and the al-Sham deputy Abu Ali al-Anbari.
– And after Turkomani’s killing, al-Anbari became deputy over Iraq while Abu al-Athir al-Absi became deputy of al-Sham.
– The receptions portfolio was under the leadership of a number of persons, including Abu al-Mundhar, and after him when al-Dawla was established, Hajji Bakr had an interest in this situation.
– Then the matter was assumed by Abu al-Ghadiya, then al-Hayali, but the matter after that came into the hands of Abdullah al-Mashhadani after the arrest of al-Sha’abani and the killing of al-Hayali.
– And there are other leaders in the Dawla, some of them recently killed like Abu Anas al-Kurdi, al-Hamdouni, Abu Nabil al-Anbari, al-Assafi and al-Mahallawi and they are all leaders in the Dawla.
– Omar al-Shishani leads the special battalions in the Dawla especially the “group of the central directorate” and it is the strike force in the Dawla.