BY: FA ME
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, one of the world’s most wanted jihadists, is aided by a “cabinet” of deputies, who manage both the Islamic State’s military operations and its new, self declared, caliphate. Documents seized from the house of a member of the Islamic State in a raid by the Iraqi military have revealed, for the first time and in remarkable detail, the leadership structure of this secretive organization.
Whilst al-Baghdadi’s predecessors, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi – who led the group when it was known as ISI – reportedly kept power very centralised, the new jihadist leader has assigned deputies to manage everything from military stores and roadside bomb attacks to the finances of the organisation.
“I describe Baghdadi as a shepherd, and his deputies are the dogs who herd the sheep [the Islamic State’s members],” said Hisham al-Hashimi, a security analyst who had access to the documents. “The strength of the shepherd comes from his dogs.”
The information, which was found on memory sticks taken from the home of Abu Abdul Rahman al-Bilawi, al-Baghdadi’s military chief of staff for Iraqi territory, who was killed in the military raid, identified two key deputies who are charged with managing terrain controlled by the Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq respectively.
Unlike al-Baghdadi both of these men formerly held senior roles in the Iraqi military and are seasoned in battle.
Abu Ali al-Anbari, who is charged with managing operations in the parts of Syria controlled by the Islamic State, was a major general in the Iraqi military under ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, Mr Hashimi said. He’s said to hail from the northern Iraqi province of Mosul.
Abu Muslim al-Turkmani was a lieutenant colonel in the Iraqi military’s intelligence core and also spent time as a special forces officer.
“These men the reasons behind the strength of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. They are the key people who keep him in power,” said Mr Hashimi.
The documents reveal the meticulous lengths that the jihadist group has gone to to transform itself into an organisation that is capable of ruling its own state.
Al-Anbari and al-Turkmani have a clear hierarchy of men beneath them who make up the “governors” of the “local provinces” of the jihadist’s new country.
Earlier this month, during the first days of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, al-Baghdadi made a shock announcement, declaring the swathe of land controlled by the Islamic State no longer terrain in Iraq and Syria, but part of a new Islamic caliphate.
The territory includes Mosul in northern Iraq, the country’s second most populous city.