The Demise of Abu Azzam

Al Qaeda in Iraq’s leadership suffers another blow. Sheikh Abdullah Abu Azzam al-Iraqi, reportedly the organization’s number two in command, has been killed by Coalition forces in Baghdad during a raid after the Coalition received a tip on his location. That the Coalition found him indicates actionable intelligence was available, and that he was in Baghdad indicates he may have been leading the recent spate of attacks in the capital. Any documentation found in Azzam’s possession may greatly assist in uncovering further al Qaeda leaders and cells.

While the report indicates Azzam was the chief financier for al Qaeda in Iraq, he has a longer pedigree than just a moneyman. Azzam was a native Iraqi and a member of Zarqawi’s original terrorist group Jamaat al-Tawhid wa’l-Jihad. He was a ruthless al Qaeda commander in the Anbar province who was directly responsible for murdering government officials in the region during the summer of 2004.

When it was believed Zarqawi was on his deathbed last spring, intelligence officials suspected Azzam was one of several candidates to succeed Zarqawi. Of the nine likely candidates, three have been killed – Suleiman Khalid Darwish, another longtime Zarqawi aide and senior member of al-Tawhid wa’l-Jihad, or captured – Abu Talha, al Qaeda’s commander in Mosul and former leader of Ansar al-Islam. Talha’s network in northern Iraq has been all but dismantled.

Azzam was no small player in jihad in Iraq. He was an experienced and ruthless killer, who as a native Iraqi understood the culture and context of Iraq greater than the foreign jihadis in country. His contacts are likely to be top notch. He will need to be replaced, and his replacement will have less influence and experience than his predecessor. Destroying al Qaeda in Iraq is a laborious process, but one that can be accelerated by taking out vital leaders and middle managers.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.


  • USMC_Vet says:

    I wonder how many Jihadis would, on this day, write their own name on a ballot if Azzam’s successor were to be decided by a blind Chinese Auction?

  • GK says:

    Awesome news. Really lifts my spirits.
    I do wait for the day that Zarqawi is killed. Ideallyu, it would be in an Uday/Qusay-type shootout, that ends with a picture of Zarqawi with half of his head shot away, or something.
    How do important developments like this not make it to Fox News, etc. The MSM is treasonoulsy leftist, but what about non-leftist outlets like Fox, the WSJ, Washington Times, etc?

  • Justin Capone says:

    Even at conservative blogs and forums like Free Republic the response to this was “shit not again”.
    Really, I think most people are at their limit and just want the war to go away. There hasn’t been an event that has increased support for the war at all since January and there has been a hell of alot that decreased it.
    On the political side of the war at least in the homefront things have been going quite badly. I still think that the Constitutional Referendum, Saddam’s trial, and the final election in December will be enough to give a kick to domestic support.
    But, the real problem is we have been in an almost a year and a half to two year cycle of the same thing every day. The media reports a suicide bombing and the death of a soldier from an IED while the Pentagon jumps up and down trying to get the media to report the capture of a Zarqawi aid. Really, what I think people want is either not to hear about it or something new to happen.

  • Media Lies says:

    The al Qaeda leadership in Iraq….

    ….continues to suffer important losses and the US media continues to ignore them as the glorify the useless violence of the suicide missions, which are done pure…

  • Serurier says:

    Seems like the Taqaddum’s terrorists have more attack , I don’t know if coalition fighting in there ?

  • Ike says:

    Was this the big event you were talking about?

  • Justin Capone says:

    Could be, I will ask tomorrow. They didn’t actually tell me what it was, but I figured it was a kill or capture of a HVT.

  • Terry Gain says:

    This is great news Bill.We are making significant progress. And I expect that good news reports will be more frequent in the months ahead. I believe that the killing of number 2 al-Qaeda in Iraq will be followed soon by the killing of number 1 – or news that he has high-tailed it out of Iraq.
    This would be front page news in media not opposed to the mission.

  • Ike says:

    A terrorist scorecard I found, not sure how accurate this is but check it out.

  • Ike says:
    Another high ranking al Qaeda leader killed with 20 others and a house they were using is destoryed.

  • Eric Means says:

    Your reporting is excellent. As an VietNam vet of several tours and many battles, I never saw the Media get it right. This is the first time outside of being in a G2 staff meeting that I have ever seen such detailed and clear reporting. Thank you for providing these detailed facts as to what is really happening in the war on terror!

  • Rookie says:

    Another worm returned to the underground…
    At this rate of eliminating HVT’s, I don’t think too many will be eager to fill up the positions on the death list…
    In my opinion, Zarqawi is more like Saddam: a coward blood-thirsty terrorist, and if he will have the chance, he will flee to Syria (is he’s not already there) or try to find cover in a hole at some remote Iraqi farmland.
    In this last case, I’m waiting for a good news related to his demise any time now.

  • Lorenzo says:

    Always the good news here of our successes Bill-Justin-Bill-Grim-Marvin, watching the hammer come down hard on terror! Our media mad country may be tiring of the commercial Oh-War-Is-Me attitude but our volunteer men and women in arms are the greatest and are loved!!
    One day soon the Iraqi people will be set and squash terror on their own in triumph by our soldiers triumph.

  • ahem says:

    Sheikh Abdullah Abu Azzam al-Iraqi, the organization’s number two in command
    Hmm. Perhaps you have different org charts than me, but I’ve never heard the ‘number two’ line from a credible source until now; even you had him as the backup to the backup, based on total speculation. You’d think he’d be worth more than the standard $50k DoD reward otherwise.
    Sounds a bit like all those Al-Qaeda #3s that have been captured or killed in recent months…

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Don’t worry, Ahem. I’ll post today with the credible source. And you should polish your reading skills. Zarqawi’s backup, Darwish, was killed a few months ago. Which means Azzam got promoted the hard way.
    As for “all those Al-Qaeda #3s that have been captured or killed in recent months”, al Libbi was at the very least al Qaeda’s commander in Pakistan. CIA and other sources stand by the #3 designation. I don’t know who the “other #3s” are but I suspect you’re playing some type of ignorant gotcha game that falls flat on its face.

  • Rookie says:

    ahem: what org chart have you then? Maybe you can share it with us, I bet US military would be interested also. I found one here in a hurry, our worm had indeed 50k on his head … in February.
    This terror network is fuzzy enough not to have a very strict hierarchy. Besides, hierarchy means that under no. 1 there are few no. 2, then much more no. 3 and so on.
    Bill has pointed many times on this site that terrorists are forced now to promote lower figures much faster to cope with their loses, so a “lieutenant” can became in half a year no. 2 because of the many openings… But this Azzam character was not just a rookie…
    Of course maybe you wait (and me also) for news regarding former Baath leaders such al-Duri, or Muhammad Yunis … well, this crakpots have lots of money and lot of influence/friends in near and far-away countries (Fwance, anyone?), so I don’t expect them to face justice anytime soon.
    Edit: I wrote these lines and then messed up with my work, forgot to post them. Meanwhile Bill gave a better answer – I missed Darwish trip to Hell also…

  • leaddog2 says:

    I do not really care where these monsters stand on any chart. Just kill them where you find them. I have seen some Media Trolls who support the killers though. What about them?

  • US Spec Ops Kill No. 2 Terrorist

    Zarqawi’s top aide, Abu Azzam, killed in dawn raid.

  • bubba says:

    …further evidence that the Islamofascists are having a difficult time in the north:

    “In north Iraq, a top aide to al-Zarqawi surrendered to police in the city of Mosul, Iraqi army Brig. Gen. Ali Attalah said Monday. The aide, Abdul Rahman Hasan Shahin, was one of the most wanted figures in Mosul, Attalah said.”

    When the jihadi’s, especially leadership, find the prospect of incarceration in a Coalition prison preferable to martyrdom and it’s attendent qouta of virgins in paradise, well, I think we can surmise they have a major morale and esprit de corp problem on their hands.

    For the life of me, I can’t understand why the Washington Post doesn’t do one of it’s lenghty Iraq “Analysis” pieces (i.e. front-page editorial) on this very obvious trend.

  • goesh says:

    I think the attrition rate of jihadis is much higher than we are being told. Remember, allah is protecting them, hence they make stupid tactical decisions and die easily. Remember during the invasion how cars would rush at tanks? That is the mentality of a fanatic convinced that allah will protect or at least reward for such stupid decisions. Cannon fodder may well be harder to come by for the upper echelon terr leaders. The more civilians they kill, the more extended family members they create who are willing to drop a dime on them.

  • Rookie says:

    Some news regarding this Azzam character:
    They say basically that Azzam (“commanding Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s forces in the capital”) – so not small fish – was in fact in US custody…
    Why these idiots have all the same names, and also multiple ID’s ? It must be a nightmare for intel guys.
    Right now on Sky News there is confirmation that yesterday Azzam is our man… so I think we must wait for some clarification. Bottom-line, 2 Azzam are down, not one. Work for me !

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    “Why these idiots have all the same names”
    Yeah, they are kind of like strippers and prostitutes.

  • Jamison1 says:

    Look again, the name is similar but not the same as someone captured before.

  • Rookie says:

    Yes you’re right. I did a little research and I found this link
    There are two Abu Azzam captured in Mosul, January 05 and 19 March 05. This last one is the one Debkafile is mentioning, and now I think they are wrong.
    The same site has even a story and a picture of the late no. 2.

  • Another one bites the dust

    As I mentioned in this post, another senior terrorist was killed in Haditha on Sept 18. Such operations indicate US and Iraqi intelligence is excellent.


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