ISIS Leaders: From Zarqawi to Qardash

On May 20, the Iraqi intelligence apparatus announced that it arrested one of the candidates for succeeding the former ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“The terrorist Abdul Nasser Qardash, who was close to Baghdadi and one of the candidates for succeeding him, has been arrested, and necessary investigations were carried out,” Iraqi intelligence officials said.

Qardash was the head of ISIS’ delegated committee, and since Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq was in command, Qarash served as one of the organization’s leaders in Iraq.

Abdul Nasser Qardash, born in Mosul, was entrusted to multiple military tasks during the command of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and later Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He led several military operations in Syria and Iraq, known for his extremism and good relations with the Arab leaders of the organization.

ISIS emerged from al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the beginning was with Abu Mosab al-Zarqawi who was fighting the US forces alongside the al-Mujahidin Shoura Council and other groups that paved the way for the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq.

Abu Mosab al-Zarqawi

Ahmed Fadil Nazal al-Khalaeila, known as Abu Mosab al-Zarqawi, was born in Jordan in 1966. He was a member of al-Qaeda in Iraq and leader in training camps in Afghanistan.

He was responsible for several attacks and bombings during the Iraqi war and established the group of al-Jihand and al-Tawheed, which he led until his death in 2006.

Zarqawi had claimed responsibility for several attacks through recorded videos, including suicide attacks and executing hostages.

Later on, he was known as the leader of the Jihad Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a branch of al-Qaeda in Iraq. In 2004, Zarqawi beheaded the US hostage Eugene Armstrong, publicly broadcasted on the Internet.

In 1988, Zarqawi joined the ranks of Jihadi organization with the help of Abdul Majid Ibrahim al-Majali, known as Abu Qutayba al-Ordoni, who was then the director of the Afghan Mujahideen Services Office in Jordan: an informal office for youth recruiting, lecturing and fundraising.

It was Abu Qutaiba who recruited Zarqawi and facilitated his travel to Afghanistan. In Peshawar, al-Zarqawi was introduced to Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi. He then returned to Jordan and was arrested in 1990 after finding weapons and explosives in his home.

Al-Zarqawi was imprisoned in Jordan for 7 years, where he met Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi.

In 1996 Zarqawi was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but he stayed until 1999 when the Jordanian King Abdullah II issued a general amnesty for all prisoners in Jordan after becoming king.

After being released, it is believed that Zarqawi have left again for Afghanistan and stayed there until early 2000.

After his release from prison and in 1999, he is believed to have participated in an attempt to bomb the Radisson Hotel in Amman, where many Israeli and American tourists were staying.

Soon later, he sought refuge in Peshawar near the border with Afghanistan, and was later sentenced to death in absentia on charges of conspiring to attack the Radisson Hotel.

Al-Zarqawi is believed to have arrived in Iraq after the US missile attack on his base in Afghanistan in 2001.

US officials argue that Zarqawi was a commander of al-Qaeda organization who moved to Iraq and established links with Ansar al-Islam, a group of Kurdish Muslims in northern Iraq.

In October 2002, Zarqawi was accused of assassinating the US aid official Lauren Foley in Amman. A few months later in 2003, Zarqawi was considered as the mastermind of a series of bloody bombings that took place, starting from Casablanca in Morocco to Istanbul in Turkey, however, Iraq remained the center of Zarqawi’s activity.

On the morning of June 7, 2006, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced that al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a US raid. The US President George W. Bush described Zarqawi’s killing as a severe blow to al-Qaeda.

Al-Zarqawi had married three wives, the first was Um Muhammad, Jordanian. His second wife, Israa, was the daughter of Yassin Jarad, one of the Palestinian activists involved in the killing of the Shiite leader Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim. The third wife was an Iraqi woman who was killed with him.

Abu Hamza al-Muhajir

Abdul Moneim Ezz El-Din Ali Al-Badawi, known as Abu Hamza Al-Muhajir or Abu Ayoub Al-Masry, was born in Egypt in1968.

He joined the Jihadist group founded by Ayman Al-Zawahiri in 1982 and worked as a personal assistant to al-Zawahiri. In 1999 he traveled to Afghanistan and joined the al-Faruq camp led by Osama bin Laden, where he specialized in building explosives.

After the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 2006, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir became the leader of al-Qaeda and was later chosen as Minister of War in the Islamic State of Iraq and First Deputy of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the Emir of the Islamic State of Iraq.

Together with his Yemeni wife Hasna, he moved to Baghdad in 2003, when Saddam’s regime fell.

Later, US forces attacked and killed the person who lived in the upper floor of a house where Al-Badawi was suspected and arrested his wife.

Hasna explained that her husband “survived the attack and fled to Fallujah with me, then we left to Zoba’a in Abu Ghraib and in 2007, we lived in Tharthar and moved in more than one place until our hiding place was discovered, they attacked us and killed him with Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.”

The Marine Times, said that the George W Bush. administration had reduced the bounty allocated for killing Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, from $ 5 million to $ 100,000, because he was no longer worth that much.

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi al-Hussaini

In 2006, the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq was announced officially.

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, whose real name was Hamid Dawud Muhammad Khalil al-Zawi, was born on 1959, announced as the Emir of the Islamic State.

He was the Emir of the Jaysh Taifat al-Mansoura, and then pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

He later formed with other groups The Mujahideen and Shura Council, and was chosen as its Emir, succeeding Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, later as the Emir of the Islamic State of Iraq.

He worked in the security services before embracing the Salafi thoughts in 1985, after that he became one of the most prominent theorists, chased by Saddam Hussein’s regime.

On Monday 19/4/2010, US forces announced the killing of Abu Omar, and that news was confirmed by the so-called Ministry of Shariah in the Islamic State of Iraq. The Mujahideen and Shura Council announced later that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had become the Emir of the Islamic State of Iraq.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Born as Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali Al Badri Al Samarra’i in 1971, known as Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi.

In April 2010, he became the successor of Abu Omar Al Baghdadi. With the developments that took place in Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq penetrated to Syria and became the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

In the summer of 2014, the official spokesman for the organization, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, announced that Iraq and the Levant had been removed from the name of the organization, and that the state’s fighters had removed the “idol” borders, and that the current name would become the Islamic state only (IS). Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was announced as the Muslims Caliph.

After a series of operations that targeted Baghdadi, the US State Department announced on October 4, 2011 that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was considered as a global terrorist. It announced a bounty of $ 10 million for information that could lead to his capture or killing, and on December 16, 2016, the United States increased the reward to $ 25 million.

On October 26, 2019, Baghdadi was killed after a US raid in a special operation in Idlib, northwestern Syria. President Donald Trump approved the secret mission a week before it was conducted.

Al-Baghdadi came from the Al-Badriyin tribes. He finished high school in 1991, and obtained additional degrees that the Iraqi regime was then granting to the brothers of the martyrs, as his younger brother had died when he was a soldier in the Iraqi army. As for Al-Baghdadi himself, he was not accepted to perform military service because of a health certificate issued by his university.

After completing his high school, Al-Baghdadi wanted to study at the University of Baghdad. He was planning to study law, but he eventually enrolled in the College of Islamic Law at the University of Baghdad.

He obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Quranic Studies. After that, he received a master’s degree in 2002, and his thesis focused on the topic of recitations of the Holy Qur’an, and then he obtained a PhD in 2006. In 2003 he married his first wife in Anbar.

He was an Imam and preacher in a mosque in Baghdad before the US invasion of Iraq.

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