Islamic State leader who defected from al Qaeda reported killed in Mosul

The Iraqi military claimed that an Islamic State leader who is from Pakistan was killed in an airstrike in Mosul. The commander is thought to be one of nine mid-level al Qaeda commanders who publicly defected from the global jihadist group to join the Islamic State.

Abdul Rahman al Amjad al Pakistani and five Islamic State fighters were killed after Iraqi warplanes “directly hit one of [the Islamic State’s] strongholds in Mosul” on Aug. 5, Ministry of Defense spokesman General Mohammed al Askari told Al Shorfa.

“Al Pakistani was a prominent [Islamic State] leader who recently split from al Qaeda,” Al Shorfa reported.

The death of al Pakistani has not been confirmed. The Islamic State has yet to announce his death. And the Iraqi military has often released inaccurate information since the Islamic State and allied insurgent groups launched their offensive on June 10 and took over much of Ninewa, Salahaddin, Diyala, and northern Babil provinces. The Islamic State has been in control of large areas in Anbar since the beginning of January.

Al Pakistani is also known as Abdullah al Punjabi, a former al Qaeda commander who vocally rejected al Qaeda and joined the Islamic State. He and eight other commanders, led by Abu al Huda al Sudani, released a statement on March 31 that announced the reasons for their split from al Qaeda and for joining the Islamic State.

In that statement, the al Qaeda defectors accused al Qaeda of embracing the Arab Spring and Muslim Brotherhood leader and former Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi, sidestepping sharia or Islamic Law, and rejecting the establishment and expansion of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, among other criticisms.

The other seven al Qaeda leaders who signed the statement, in addition to al Pakistani and al Sudani, are listed as “Abu Obeida al Lubnani, Abu al Muhannad al Urduni, Abu Jarir al Shamali (Abu Tha’ir), Abdul Aziz (Brother of Sheikh Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi), Abu Yunus al Kurdi, Abu A’isha al Qurtubi, and Abu Musab al Tadhamuni,” according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which obtained and translated the statement.

The nine al Qaeda defectors addressed their letter to al Qaeda’s branches in Yemen (al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), Somalia (Shabaab), and North Africa (al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), as well as the Islamic Caucasus Emirate, the Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem, and “all who are concerned, from the jihadi factions in the lands of the Muslims.” An al Qaeda ideologue responded to the letter in May, dismissing the criticisms cited by the nine commanders. Abdul Aziz’s brother, Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, an influential jihadist ideologue, has openly denounced the Islamic State.

Al Sudani and the eight other al Qaeda commanders likely hoped that their defection would lead other members of al Qaeda to join the Islamic State. But few al Qaeda leaders have followed them. Since the statement was released, al Qaeda’s branches as well as the Islamic Caucasus Emirate have come out in support of Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s emir.

If al Pakistani is confirmed to have been killed in Mosul, it indicates that jihadists are easily traveling from the Afghan-Pakistan region to Iraq and Syria. Al Pakistani and his cohorts were thought to be based in northwestern Pakistan at the time they signed their statement.

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

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1 Comment

  • Daniel Lopez says:

    Sounds like another rubbish Iraqi announcement- which they are famous for.
    How can you know from the air who died or not?
    Why haven’t the eulogy’s come out on twitter?
    Of course I could be wrong, but I would put money on this being bull-dust.


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