PARIS: With monikers as divergent because the “Professor” and the “Destroyer”, the Islamic State group’s new head has a status for brutality, however in any other case stays largely an enigma.
Amir Mohammed Stated Abd al-Rahman al-Mawla changed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after his demise in a raid by US particular forces final October.
Mawla was initially offered to the world by the Islamic State (IS) as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi – a person about whom America and Iraq had little intelligence.
US officers later got here to consider that al-Qurashi was Mawla’s nom de guerre, recognising him in March as the brand new head of IS.
The State Division instantly positioned him on its “Specifically Designated International Terrorist” listing, sparking a quest to study extra a couple of most-wanted man who now has a $10 million bounty on his head.
One factor everybody appears to agree on is Mawla’s brutal nature.
He’s most likely finest recognized for enjoying “a significant position within the jihadist marketing campaign of liquidation of the Yazidi minority (of Iraq) via massacres, expulsion and sexual slavery,” in response to Jean-Pierre Filiu, a jihadism analyst on the Sciences Po college in Paris.
The brand new IS chief was born, probably in 1976, within the city of Tal Afar, some 70 kilometres (40 miles) from Mosul.
He was born right into a Turkmen household, making him a uncommon non-Arab to ascend the ranks of IS, which at its peak dominated huge components of Iraq and Syria and drew volunteers from the West.
His ethnic origins prompted the United Nations to foretell in a January report that he could be a “short-term alternative till the group finds a extra legit ’emir’, a direct descendant from the Quraysh Hashemite tribe who may due to this fact command the total help of the distant provinces.”
Mawla graduated from the Islamic Sciences Faculty in Mosul.
A former officer within the military of Saddam Hussein, he joined the ranks of Al-Qaeda after the US invasion of Iraq and Hussein’s seize in 2003, in response to the Counter Extremism Challenge (CEP) think-tank.
He took on the position of spiritual commissary and a common Sharia jurist for al-Qaeda.
In 2004, Mawla was detained by US forces on the Camp Bucca jail in southern Iraq, the place he met Baghdadi.
Each males had been later freed, and Mawla remained at Baghdadi’s facet as he took the reins of the Iraqi department of Al-Qaeda in 2010, then defected to create the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), later the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), often known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
In 2014, in response to the CEP, Mawla welcomed Baghdadi to Mosul “earlier than leaving al-Qaeda and pledged allegiance and full help to the novel’s mission, offering ISIS the help to shortly take management of town”.
A profile drawn up by the CEP mentioned that Mawla “shortly established himself among the many insurgency’s senior ranks, and was nicknamed the ‘Professor’ and the ‘Destroyer'”.
He was nicely revered amongst IS members as a “brutal policymaker” and was chargeable for “eliminating those that opposed Baghdadi’s management”, it mentioned.
Down however not out
Analysts consider Mawla will now search to show he’s his personal man by making an attempt to reboot an organisation weakened by years of US-led assaults and the lack of its self-proclaimed “caliphate” in Syria final yr.
And he could select to behave now that the US is withdrawing troops from Syria.
In a portent of issues to come back, IS fighters have carried out an assault each three days on common in Syria in latest months, in response to the Washington-based Centre for International Coverage (CGP).
Hisham Al-Hashimi, a Baghdad-based specialist on the extremist motion who was assassinated in Baghdad this month, just lately estimated the group’s month-to-month revenues in Iraq from investments and taxes it collects at some $7 million.
“Regardless of its critical losses in territory and manpower, it stays financially solvent, inventive, deadly, and as soon as once more assured sufficient to threaten those that violate its rules,” CGP analyst Abdullah Al-Ghadhawi wrote.
This implies Mawla has each the motivation and the means to claim himself.
“There are complaints about him from the sector, there are nonetheless questions on what sort of organisation he might be working, how competent of a frontrunner he’s going to be, how profitable he’ll be in reconstituting a caliphate, how inspiring he’ll be,” Seth Jones of the Middle for Strategic and Worldwide Research in Washington informed AFP.
“There may be going to be a variety of challenges, in inspiring the sector but additionally avoiding to be killed like Baghdadi,” Jones mentioned.
“If he’s profitable and recreates a caliphate, if the US withdraws its forces, in the event that they’re capable of capitalise in different nations, that would go an extended strategy to cut back considerations about his background,” he warned.
Whereas the group’s weakened place renders unlikely a significant strike such because the 2015 jihadist assault on Paris unlikely for now, officers mustn’t rule out smaller, much less devastating however symbolic assaults on the West, Jones added.