Al Qaeda appoints new ‘war minister’ for Iraq

Al Qaeda in Iraq appointed a new ‘war minister’ for its Islamic State after the group’s top two leaders were killed by Iraqi and US forces one month ago.

Al Qaeda in Iraq announced the appointment of Nasser al Din Allah Abu Suleiman as the new minister of war for its political front, the Islamic State of Iraq. Abu Suleiman’s appointment was announced in a statement released on jihadist Internet forums.

In the announcement, Abu Suleiman vowed to wage a new military campaign directed at Iraqi security forces as well as against the country’s Shia, which al Qaeda views as “apostates” for practicing a different version of Islam. The attacks would be launched to avenge the death of top al Qaeda leaders as well as for the “men and women in prisons of the apostates in Baghdad, Mosul and Diyala.”

Abu Sulieman also promised his forces would subject the Iraqi Shia to “a long and gloomy night and darker days colored in blood.”

Al Qaeda has long advocated a strategy that calls for stoking sectarian violence between the majority Shia and minority Sunnis. Al Qaeda and the Shia Mahdi Army had brought Iraq to the edge of civil war in 2006 by carrying out a wave of murders against opposing sects and even their own.

Al Qaeda in Iraq’s founder, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who was killed in a US strike in June 2006, had insisted from the very beginning that al Qaeda’s best chance at destroying the Iraqi government and imposing an Islamic state was to fan the sectarian flames. Zarqawi made the argument to al Qaeda’s central leadership that the Shia must be viciously targeted, even if it meant a full-blown war against the Shia.

“I come back and again say that the only solution is for us to strike the religious, military and other cadres among the Shia with blow after blow until they bend to the Sunnis,” Zarqawi said in a letter to Osama bin Laden. The letter was written by Zarqawi in 2004 and intercepted by US intelligence.

Little is known about Abu Sulieman. Al Qaeda in Iraq’s top leadership has been decimated by US and Iraqi forces over the past five months. Abu Ayyub al Masri, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, and Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, were killed in an operation outside of Tikrit on April 18. Abu al Walid Abd al Wahhab al Mashadani, the group’s sharia minister, confirmed the two leaders were killed in a statement released on the Internet six days later.

Several other top leaders of the group have been killed or captured since January. Most recently, Iraqi police captured Abu Abdullah al Shafi, the top leader of al Qaeda ally Ansar al Islam, during a raid in Baghdad. [For a list of top al Qaeda leaders killed or captured since Jan. 1, 2010, see LWJ report, “Iraqi forces arrest leader of Ansar al Islam.”]

The position of war minister in the Islamic State of Iraq was previously held by al Masri, a long time al Qaeda and Egyptian Islamic Jihad member who was appointed by Ayman al Zawahiri. While technically the war minister was subordinate to the emir, or leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, in reality al Masri was the group’s leader. The Islamic State of Iraq was established to put an Iraqi face on the foreign-led terror group. Al Qaeda has yet to announce a new leader of the Islamic State of Iraq.

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



  • Mark says:

    Hopefully soon this guy will meet the same fate as his predecessors.

  • Render says:

    Does somebody think there is an impending vacuum in Iraq?
    I wonder how this message will be received in Terhan?
    Somebody is really not helping the “Religion of Peace” meme here…not at all.
    IN HIS

  • KnightHawk says:

    Meet the new boss, likely to be killed just like the old bosses. Should run a pool on how long this one will last.

  • Stu says:

    This last week should tell all Iraqis, no matter what sect they follow, to unite under one national banner to hunt these monsters down for capture and prosecution. And if they refuse to be taken alive, then kill then quickly and efficiently so their maimed bodies can put on public view. Now is the time for national unity on this issue, otherwise there will be no peace in Iraq for many years.
    At this time as well, Iraqi nationalism may give the Iranians pause, a good thing considering the imminent showdown with the mullahs.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    It’s an unfortunate reality that in a country like Iraq … a veritable ammo dump … it’s hard to keep a dedicated jihadist from blowing himself and a lot of innocent Iraqis to smithereens.
    This is going to be long process with some spectacular ambushes and unavoidable murder = dozens or scores of civilians but I am confident that the Iraqi Security Forces are ready for their mission to protect and police Iraq already.
    Now, the Politicians (i.e. tribes) have to be altruistic for the sake of their homeland and get a functioning, legitimate government together. Fingers crossed.

  • DANNY says:

    What is really is the most frighting about this threat is it is against muslims. We Americans are really on their list. Can you imagine what they dream of doing to us? Oh yeah we hear about it every friday in chanting unison. “death to America Death to Israel.” They are going to cut our heads off for sure. But they will never win! Fear not them who can kill the body… fear Him who after He has killed you, has the power to cast you into hell. It sadly will be a long war. But we are on the side of Right. Bring it on fools!

  • TimSln says:

    Sounds like AQI is digging deep into their pool of leadership, what is left of it. However, AQI has proven to be very resilient.

  • omer says:

    just wanted to let you know that the banner actually for a different topic, as it says ( the targeting of British ambassador in Yemen) so please take that in note.

  • KaneKaizer says:

    Frankly, unless this guy hides out in Syria, there’s a pretty good chance he won’t last long in his new job.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Thanks Omer. I removed this. I confused the banners that I clicked thru. Greatly appreciated.

  • crusader says:

    knighthawk: a pool you say? i bet he will be put offline within 6 months from now…any other bids?
    does AQ fight shia muslims or are they only interested in those that are not muslims at all?

  • BraddS says:

    So does Iran actually pay the AQI “leadership” in American $100 bills? That would be the ultimate irony…

  • Nic says:

    The following is a Machiavellian tactic that would seem possible in an outfit like AQI in the event of an internal power struggle. The scenario: an opponent of Nasser al Din Allah Abu Suleiman publishes Suleiman’s name as the new ‘war minister’. Consequence: Suleiman is now “a man without a country”. He is now on the U. S. / Iraqi hit list and has a life expectancy of his predecessors. He has been outmaneuvered within AQI and has lost the internal power struggle. He is a man on the run. The truth is kept within AQI. A move that would make Tony Soprano proud. As always, I welcome comments from those in LWJ Land.

  • KnightHawk says:

    crusader – That was about what I was thinking so I’ll take 210 days or less till killed or captured. 😉


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