A closer look at slain al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Abdullah

Abu Abdullah. Photo from Multinational Forces Iraq. Click to view.

Earlier this week, Multinational Forces Iraq confirmed the death of Abu Abdullah, who was described as a senior al Qaeda leader. Not only was Abu Abdullah a close associate of Zarqawi, the regional emir of the region between western Baghdad and Fallujah, the leader of the pro-al Qaeda elements of the Zuba’a tribe in western Baghdad and eastern Anbar provinces, and a commander of a terror network in Salahadin, he was a tactical commander behind one of the most high-profile attacks in Iraq during 2005. Abu Abdullah also was an expert IED designer, funded attacks against Coalition and Iraqi forces and citizens, and acted as a foreign terrorist facilitator.

“We know he conducted, led and organized numerous terrorist acts,” said Colonel Don Bacon, a spokesman for Multinational Forces Iraq, in response to an e-mail inquiry by The Long War Journal. Multinational Forces Iraq has “specific intelligence” tying Abu Abdullah to five attacks in the eastern Anbar region in 2005 and 2006.

The largest attack Abu Abdullah was involved with was the April 2, 2005 assault on the Abu Ghraib prison. “This was a complex attack,” said Bacon. “Rocket barrages forced Marine guards to abandon a prison watchtower at the height of the precision-timed offensive, which employed mortars, rockets, ground assaults and a car bomb,” the Washington Post reported days after the assault. US Marines repelled the attack with Apache gunships. The US military estimated the attacking force suffered over 50 casualties out of an estimated 60 attackers, including 10 al Qaeda fighters killed. Forty-four Marines and 13 prisoners were wounded during the battle.

Abu Abdullah was behind an IED attack against Coalition forces in Zaidon, attacked voters during the December 2005 election, assaulted the Karmah police station on December 24, 2005, and attacked the Iraqna cell towers in Abu Ghraib in September 2006. “We assess there are more [attacks],” Bacon said.

The al Qaeda leader also played a major role in building IEDs and funding IED and small-arms attack cells. Abu Abdullah “was known as an expert bomb and improvised explosive device maker,” said Bacon. He “paid people to conduct attacks: 400 dollars to emplace an IED, 750 dollars to detonate an IED, 200 dollars to kill or kidnap an Iraqi supporter of Coalition Forces, and 10,000 dollars to conduct small arms attack against Coalition Forces.”

Another of Abu Abdullah’s roles was to act as a foreign terrorist facilitator, whose job is to get foreign al Qaeda fighters into the country and push them into the field to conduct terror attacks. “He was also a leader in the movement and utilization of foreign terrorists,” said Bacon. “He would house and train foreign terrorists, and normally employed them as suicide car bomb drivers.”

Abu Abdullah, whose real name is Muhammad Sulayman Shunaythir al Zuba’i, also led the pro-al Qaeda elements of the Zuba’a tribe in the eastern Anbar region. He was forced to leave Anbar in late 2006 “The area turned against him because of the violence he was fomenting in this area, and he was blamed for this violence,” Bacon said. “He left for his own safety.” At the time, eastern Anbar province was one of the most dangerous regions in Iraq.

He fled to Salahadin province, where intelligence indicated “he was preparing to attack Concerned Local Citizens” just prior to being killed. “Attacking the Concerned Local Citizens has become an al Qaeda in Iraq priority recently, and Abu Abdullah was planning at least one of these attacks,” said Bacon.

Abu Abdullah’s car. Photo from Multinational Forces Iraq. Click to view.

Coalition forces, likely Task Force 88, the hunter-killer teams assigned to track down al Qaeda in Iraq’s senior commanders, killed Abdullah after attempting to capture him in the Samarra region on November 8. Abdullah and another al Qaeda operative fired on Coalition forces, and his car caught fire after Coalition forces returned fire. “Abdullah’s car ignited, followed by secondary explosions caused by explosives in the car,” said Bacon, indicating the car was already carrying explosives.

Also see Senior al Qaeda leader killed in November raid from December 26 for more information on Abu Abdullah.

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



  • Marlin says:

    Speaking of Sunni Arabs who oppose the Iraqi government and the Coalition Forces having a difficult time, Adnan al-Dulaimi continues to have problems as well.
    An Iraqi army force discovered a weapons cache inside the house of one of the bodyguards of Adnan al-Dulaimi, the leader of the (Sunni) Iraqi Accordance Front (IAF), a security official said on Saturday.
    “There were more than 300 civilians who lodged complaints on the IAF leader’s bodyguards’ involvement in killing and practicing forced relocation of families in al-Adl neighborhood,” Atta said.
    In late November 2007, joint forces raided the house of Dulaimi and arrested 40 bodyguards and members of his office, including his son Makki after the U.S. forces found a car bomb in a street near his office.
    Aswat al-Iraq: Army forces discover weapons cache in Dulaimi bodyguard’s house

  • Hmm…. If he was involved in that prison attack he may have been linked to the wanted al Douri. If so, the documents found on al Douri may have played a role in his capture, no?


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