Org Chart

Note: The Organizational Chart for al Qaeda in Iraq is now avaliable for viewing, click here to see the PDF. The document is also available for download via The Counterterrorism Blog.

Evan Kohlmann of Global Terror Alert and The Counterterrorism Blog has allowed me to preview a graphic of the organizational structure of al Qaeda in Iraq. This fascinating document details the leadership of al Qaeda in Iraq and shows the command structure and related military wings. The chart also illustrates the status of al Qaeda’s lieutenants – killed, captured or wanted. As it stands, of the 42 known high ranking members of al Qaeda in Iraq, 10 have been killed, 18 have been captured and 14 are wanted. The senior most leaders are still at large, but the middle management of al Qaeda in Iraq has been decimated (over 66% of Zarqawi’s lieutenants either killed or captured) by the Coalition efforts to dismantle the organization. This is a frighteningly high rate of attrition, and newer members of the organization that will rise in the ranks will be less experienced with al Qaeda’s operations, tactics, knowledge in the local theaters and dealing with members of the organization.

My sincerest thanks to Mr. Kohlmann for allowing me to preview this document.

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


  • Blackfive says:

    Wow! You’ve got my attention.

  • GK says:

    This is Al-Qaeda in Iraq? 66% loss is amazing, and would mean they are under 12 months away from utter implosion.
    Does he also have an idea of the global Al-Qaeda org chart? What percentage of the top 100 Al-Qaeda leaderrs worldwide have been removed? Notably, Khalid Sheikh Mohd and Al-Libbi would be notable catches there.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    I think you will be pleased.
    I will ask Mr. Kohlmann about about a global org chart.

  • Enigma says:

    Ditto, Blackfive. I can’t wait to see it! Good work, Bill.

  • Gerry says:

    Why, in your estimation, has such bountiful fruit at the middle management level not led to scores at the higher level? (The guy that looks like Ron Jeremy excepted).
    I am very disdainful of much of the radical Islamist culture (much being defined as “almost all”). I will say that their fidelity to the cause and to their dreamed mission and to their superiors all are impressive.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    It is hard to say, but I would guess some of the leaders are outside Iraq. This is the experienced and careful bunch.

  • Mixed Humor says:

    Nice work on the graphic and good review. Didn’t one of the Iraqi government officials proclaim about a month ago that 18 of 19 of Zarqawi’s regional commanders had been killed or detained, with the lone exception being his Mosul lieutenant?
    I swear I read that somewhere, but have been unable to find the link or validate that.

  • socialism_is_error says:

    One might find the link, but don’t lose sight of the connotations of being “one of the Iraqi government officials”.
    That is to say, a politician with an audience, capable of playing fast and loose with truth.

  • Daily Pundit says:

    Good News

    Bill Roggio reports that al-Qaeda in Iraq has been decimated….

  • teds says:

    Hi Bill,
    I was hoping that you would respond to Pat Buchannan’s latest column. People are attacking him and his column as anti-Semetic. As a Jew, I find the column more intriguing than hateful. I disagree with him, of course, but he brings up several important points which apply to today’s War on Terrorism:
    1. Churchill’s rational for his pre-emptive war was to liberate Poland. But 6 years of fighting did not liberate Poland. Nevertheless, WWII made the world a better place. So now we’re “changing our rational” for war.
    2. Do we (or any other country or world body) have the right to go to war for humanitarian purposes? And does a country have the right to go to war if the international body says “no”?
    My basic conclusion: for isolationists- from anti-war liberals to paleo-conservatives like Buchannan, the natural extension of their opposition to the Iraq invasion is to say that WWII was not worth it.
    *Hitler/Saddam never attacked us and was not an “imminent threat” (by Gov. Dean’s definition)
    *Churchill/Bush changed their rationale for war; their original rationale didn’t hold
    *While we condemn human rights abuses, they do not justify war
    *A country may not go to war unless the international body says so.
    Maybe- just maybe- both World War II and Iraq were worth it.

  • Chester says:

    Bill, this chart is fascinating. What are the “military brigades” mentioned? Are those Saddam Loyalists? Or are they operational units in the command structure.
    Does this chart assume Zarqawi is in charge, or is there explicit evidence?
    If the Former Regime Elements aren’t included, is there are chart of those too? I may write a quick blurb on my blog with some additional thoughts.
    By the way, you should all see the main article at TechCentralStation today: The Useless Blood of May. The author posits that many of the recent suicide bombers did not know they were headed to their deaths. An interesting theory, and one to look for signs of, though probably difficult to prove. The only proof I can think of is a recent article stating that three men with Down’s syndrome were recruited for bombings, though I can’t remember the source. A similar tactic was used successfully in one of the bombings on election day, though there were no major casualties.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    al Qaeda organizes itself into various “brigades” but these are not along the lines of traditional conventional military units. They are often jsut a grouping of fighters. In the case of the al-Muqrin Brigades, this unit was named after Abdelaziz al-Muqrin, an al Qaeda commander in Saudi Arabia.
    Zarqawi is in charge, the intel on this is solid, and al Qaeda has claimed this as well.
    This does not include FREs.
    We have seen several accounts of people being coerced into suicide bombing. I documented the case of the Downs teanager as well as a man that escaped after his car failed to detonate. His family was threatened if he did not carry it out. No surprise here, al Qaeda is adopting the tactics of the Palestinians, who use the threat of honor killings to induce young women to kill themselves.

  • Crank says:

    Fascinating stuff, but I keep wondering how we know this. I mean, we didn’t get this from the Al Qaeda telephone directory, did we? I’m not being difficult here, I just wonder how certain we can be that this sort of thing can be compiled with any level of confidence from open sources.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Understood. This is Mr. Kohlmann’s job, he is a professional counterterrorism expert. The information is gathered from a host of sources, including signals intel, captured members, documents, captured laptops, etc.

  • JimSpot says:

    Middle-Management Shortfall

    Certainly good news (emphasis added – ed.). The Fourth Rail: Org Chart This fascinating document details the leadership of al Qaeda in Iraq and shows the command structure and related military wings. The chart also illustrates the status of al…

  • Josh Narins says:

    The French completely destroyed the leadership of the Algerian resistance, described in the movie Battle of Algiers.
    However, two years later, they still lost the whole country.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Because the French lacked political will. They suffered from the defeat in WWII and post colonial guilt.

  • Alan Furman says:

    Terrorism in Iraq, for some, is not just an adventure but a job.
    Which implies that Zarqawi must rely on a network of cash handlers, and constantly replace them as they get picked off. The contract operatives themselves are not much of a hiring pool to promote to paymaster; their ranks are full of common criminals.
    Could the cash pipeline be Z-man’s soft underbelly?

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