Those who read my new interview with the jihadist group Jama'at Ansar al-Islam may have noticed the reference to a certain Sheikh Abu Anas al-Iraqi, whose death was recently announced by the group in an official statement. Since the statement explains the life of this individual and his role in the group, I thought it would be worth translating it in full and posting it as a companion piece to the interview.
The biography contained is significant in showing an individual active within Salafi and jihadist circles within Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion of the country. He was also sent into Syria by Jama'at Ansar al-Islam in 2010, prior to the outbreak of the protests and civil war in that country. One should compare this with the description of the life of Abu Muhammad al-Muhajir, who had been a member of Jama'at Ansar al-Islam. Abu Muhammad al-Muhajir was also present in Syria as a member of the group prior to the outbreak of the unrest. It is also of interest that the group says Abu Anas was arrested in the Damascus area and that the group was recently able to confirm his death among the photos leaked by 'Caesar' that show Syrian prison detainees who were killed after being subjected to various forms of torture.
Below is the translation of the statement on Abu Anas al-Iraqi. Any explanatory endnotes are my own.
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Jama'at Ansar al-Islam
Central Media Directorate
Date: 23 Dhu al-Hijja 1441 AH
Statement of condolences on the martyrdom of the heroic leader Sheikh Abu Anas al-Iraqi (may God have mercy on him).
The Almighty has said: 'And whoso comes out from his home as a muhajir to god and his Messenger then death comes upon him, his reward has fallen upon God, and God is forgiving, merciful'- al-Nisa' 100.
We offer condolences to the Islamic Ummah in general and the mujahideen in particular on the martyrdom of the mujahid commander Sheikh Abu Anas al-Iraqi (may God Almighty have mercy on him) after a course filled with sacrifices and heroic acts and steadfastness on the principles. We ask God- Almighty and Exalted is He- to accept him among the martyrs and raise his place in the highest and gather him with the master of the prophets and his mujahideen companions.
He (may God have mercy on him) was among the inhabitants of Baghdad. He sought knowledge in it and studied Shari'i sciences and worked in the role of imam and preacher, a person of much research and consideration, known for his noble manners and good intimacy and high zeal in work and expending the utmost efforts in its continuation. And he has well-known commendations among the soldiers of the group for his generosity in wealth and life in jihad, and he was a person of affection and service, almost unrivalled in that.
He was active in da'wa for jihad in the areas of al-Obeidi and al-Kamalia[i] and in Wasit province in southern Iraq, and there were guided at his hand a large group of the Rafidites, and he was among those who refuted the doubts of the Rafidites and the Murj'ites at the time. And he is among the first contingent that joined the group in the Baghdad area before the American occupation of Iraq, and he received assignments of organisational matters, making efforts in that field.
After the American invasion in 2003 and the launching of the obligation of jihad in Iraq, he was among the predecessor mujahideen in Baghdad so he participated himself in many expeditions against the Americans and apostates and he became an official over the al-Risafa sector in the beginning of the jihad, then in the days of tribulation and hardship on the people of jihad in Diyala he received amirship of the area.
And by God's grace the power of the mujahideen returned and the level of operations in their various forms increased as it sometimes reached the level of 70 operations per day so these days were the most intense damage for the American occupiers and their apostate followers.
Then Sheikh Abu Anas was tested with imprisonment for two years and that was in 2007. He spent that period in steadfastness and did not waver. So he received after he left responsibility in two provinces: Baghdad and Salah al-Din. Then our unique leader migrated to al-Sham in 2010 and that was by command of the group in order to undertake some of the assignments. And when the wind of change blew and the revolution lit up in al-Sham, he was working in the external relations department and he had the impact in organising youth and transferring the experiences of the Iraqi jihad to them.
So after a long journey of jihad, migration, sacrifice and bearing hardship, the sheikh fell prisoner in the hands of the air intelligence forces in Rukn al-Din neighbourhood in Damascus of al-Sham in the latter part of 2013, and that was after he undertook al-Asha' prayers, then his news was cut off in the darkness of the prisons. And the group recently confirmed his photo among the detained martyrs whose photos were recently killed (known as the Caesar photos) from the prisons of the apostate Nusayri regime.
Sheikh Abu Anas was a school in steadfastness and spreading hope and restoring the spirit of jihad and activity, a bold leader and an excellent teacher and an example for the rising generations in the Islamic Ummah.
May God have wide mercy on him and envelop him with His kindness and grace and may God have mercy on all the martyrs of the Islamic Ummah.
And God's blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and all his family and companions.
Jama'at Ansar al-Islam
Central Media Directorate
Thursday: 23 Dhu al-Hijja 1441 AH
Corresponding to 13 August 2020 CE.
[i] Areas in Baghdad.