The Islamic State's weekly al-Naba' newsletter normally has a lead editorial. This week's issue, however, features a special extended biography of the group's former media department head 'Abu Muhammad al-Furqan' (real name: Wa'il al-Ta'i), who was a paediatrician by background and a veteran of the Islamic State and its predecessors from the days of Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, having joined Zarqawi's al-Qa'ida in Iraq organisation after defecting from the Ansar al-Sunna group in whose establishment he had participated. Note that al-Furqan's death was announced by the Islamic State in October 2016.
According to this biography published in al-Naba' (which is only part one and covers his life up to the time of his migration to Syria as part of the Islamic State of Iraq's expansion into the country), al-Furqan had been involved in media work since the days of al-Qa'ida in Iraq, but his capture in a raid by American forces meant that he was imprisoned for a time and never got to say his final goodbye to Zarqawi. By the time al-Furqan got out of prison, Zarqawi's group had evolved into the Islamic State of Iraq under Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. It is the biography's highlighting of al-Furqan's time in prison that is in my view most significant regarding this part of his life, as it explains why the biography mentions the importance of media and doctrine at the outset regarding the war with the disbelievers. The biography asserts that while al-Furqan was in prison, he had an important role in preventing deviation in creed and doctrine among the mujahideen in prison. The biography notes in particular al-Furqan's role in refuting the claims of 'extremists,' doing so by means of a series of lectures he taught only to a select few he trusted. To safeguard against deviation and distortion, he required those who studied his course to take a test on it. Those who passed were granted permission by him to teach it to others.
I believe this account of al-Furqan's activities in prison is plausible because we know from testimony and evidence regarding internal ideological disputes that emerged inside the Islamic State during the era of its territorial caliphate in Iraq and Syria that al-Furqan had an important role in attempting to manage those ideological disputes and ensure correct adherence to creed, doctrine and methodology (e.g. see here and here). Most notably, al-Furqan had a role in/was overseer of a committee that was concerned with investigating and testing the beliefs of scholars operating inside the Islamic State (cf. here).
Besides these issues, we also learn that al-Furqan had been part of a Salafi/Wahhabi ideological trend that was persecuted by Saddam Hussein's regime (contrary to those who try to pin responsibility for the roots of jihadism in Iraq on the Iraqi Ba'ath Party), the names of some other individuals who had been involved in media operations in the Islamic State of Iraq (e.g. Abu Faysal al-Iraqi and Abu Nasir al-Jazrawi, the latter apparently a Saudi as the kunya suggests), that al-Furqan was the minister of media in the second cabinet of ministers of the Islamic State of Iraq (going under the name of Ahmad al-Ta'i) announced in 2009, and that he had a role in producing the notorious Islamic State video series 'Salil al-Sawarim' ('Clanging of the Swords').
Below is the biography's first part translated in full.
al-Naba' issue 285
Thursday, 24 Ramadan 1442 AH
Story of a Martyr
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
The Mujahid Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Furqan (may God Almighty accept him)
Leader of the Media Battle and the Murabit on the Frontlines of Aqeeda
The war of doctrines and ideas is no less important and fierce than the wars of iron and fire through which the armies fight each other and as a result of which skulls are smashed, blood is shed, and people are destroyed. Indeed there is no exaggeration in saying that the war of ideas is the foundation on which most of the wars of iron and fire arise.
And therefore the idolaters designate a great portion of their financial, material and human resources for this war, to strengthen their ranks, and mobilise their supporters, and alter the doctrines of the Muslims, and plant weakness and incapability in their souls, and push them to surrender and acceptance of affiliation with the enemies of the creed and the religion.
And at the same time, on this great frontline men from the people of Tawheed perform ribat, knowing from where faith is realised, so they repel the doubts from the Muslims, and overtake the enemy fighter, so they bring about raid upon raid on the minds of his followers and their hearts, and they are certain that victory is from God Almighty, so they seek help for that purpose by obeying the Exalted, and putting due trust in Him.
And among these callers to God who defend the basins of the faith, who have tread time and again on places that enrage the disbelievers, such that they have grudgingly acknowledged his expertise in this field of conflict, and the intensity of his might and his endurance of this field of the fields of the clash: the mujahid Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Furqan (may God Almighty accept him), we reckon him as such and we do not vouch for anyone over God.
He is Dr. Wa'il al-Ta'i, among the first generation of the mujahideen in Iraq, and the students of the school of Tawheed in Baghdad whose foundations were placed by Sheikh Fa'iz (may God accept him), who paid as a price for that his being killed in the path of God at the hand of Saddam Hussein the Taghut of the Ba'ath who has perished. He was also among the founders of Qa'idat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn at the time, and among the eminent leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq, and one of those by whom God anchored the support pillars of the Islamic State in al-Sham, and by whom He renewed the features of the religion and the Caliphate of the Messenger of God (SAWS).
He grew up as an orphan but that did not prevent him from exceeding his peers, and he studied medicine but that did not distract him from seeking Shari'i knowledge and calling to the religion of God Almighty. For he was active among his colleagues in Baghdad University, calling on them to Tawheed, and he was distributing to them the messages of the Imams of the religion of the 'ulama of the Najdi da'wa (may God have mercy on them), and he was connected with the groups of the monotheists in Baghdad and its belt, and he was seeking knowledge at the hand of some of those known for it in that time.
No sooner had he finished his studies in medicine and his specialisation in paediatrics and in which he worked for a few years, than he and his brothers were assailed by the Crusader American invasion of the land of Iraq, and the fall of the disbelieving Ba'ath regime, and the launching of the blessed jihad in Bilad al-Rafidayn. For he was of the group at whose hand the group 'Ansar al-Sunna' was established in Iraq, and that was after the arrival of those who escaped from the 'Ansar al-Islam' group in Kurdistan to them, so they were the nucleus that established this fighting group, and the true mobiliser for most of its sectors.
With the slaughtering amir Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi
So when God Almighty made superior the da'wa of Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi (may God accept him), and made clear to the people the correctness of his manhaj, and made great the damage that he and his brothers inflicted on the Crusaders, the choice of the eminent ones from the 'Ansar al-Sunna' group was to join it, and to pledge allegiance to it, out of concern for coming together as a group, and to put an end to difference and division. And at the head of these eminent ones was Sheikh Abu Ali al-Anbari (may God accept him), who was delegated by his brothers with pledging allegiance to Sheikh al-Zarqawi in representation for them after they found procrastination and postponement from the leadership of Ansar al-Sunna in this matter as well as concern for the leadership and amirship.
And thus did Sheikh Abu Muhammad enter the ranks of Qa'idat al-Jihad, accompanying his brother and amir Sheikh Khalid al-Mashhadani (Abu Shahad)- may God accept him, who was an amir for the media department in the organisation. So when the loads and assignments that Sheikh al-Zarqawi cast on the shoulder of Abu Shahad increased, he entrusted Abu Muhammad with administration of the media portfolio as his deputy. So in that he did very well, until Sheikh al-Mashhadani was arrested, so Abu Muhammad became amir for the media in the organisation and was working at the time by the kunya of 'Abu Sajjad.'
And in that time the sheikh was frequently meeting with Sheikh al-Zarqawi, discussing with him the matters of media and the messages that must reach the Muslims and Crusaders in order to increase the support of the people of Islam for the jihad in Iraq, and pushing them to migrate and join the mujahideen, while weakening the determination of the Crusaders, and make them doubt the value of their destructive war in Iraq, and push them to withdraw from it, forsaken and routed. And he (may God have mercy on him) was making clear to his brothers in that stage that the most important of the obligations of the media in it was to bring forth the rage and fury from the Muslims against the Crusaders, in order to restore confidence and might among the people of faith after centuries of humiliation and subjection, and to plant terror from the mujahideen in the hearts of the idolaters in general, and this is what was by grace from God alone.
When the jihad became ripe for its market, and the force of the mujahideen was strengthened after the second Battle of Fallujah, and Sheikh Zarqawi (may God Almighty accept him) began making preparations to hold the land, and to realise tamkin, and establish the Shari'a and the religion, and announce the Islamic State, and was determined that that should be preceded by coming out in the media with his face, reassuring the monotheists and enraging the idolaters.
At that time, Sheikh Abu Muhammad was due to have a meeting with Sheikh Zarqawi in order to be with him in photographing the necessary scenes for the release, so he went out to him with a number of his brothers who were amirs of the organisation, like Sheikh Abu Ali al-Anbari, Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Iraqi, and Sheikh Abu al-Mu'tazz al-Qurashi (may God accept them all), but God made it fate that the Crusaders would find the guest house in which they were waiting for the one to drive them to the place of Sheikh al-Zarqawi. And that was following an American air-descent operation on a site of the mujahideen near the guest house, so the lenses of reconnaissance aircraft for the Crusaders photographed the place of the guest house as they were circling in the area when they clashed with the mujahideen, and after the clash ended with the killing of all of the mujahideen in the neighbouring area as they blew up their belts on the attacking forces and rejected surrendering to them, they besieged the guest house and in it was Sheikh Abu Muhammad and those with him, and they were unarmed more or less, as their path from Baghdad to the place of Sheikh al-Zarqawi was mined with multiple checkpoints of the Crusaders. So God granted for Sheikh Abu Muhammad to be taken prisoner, and remain in prison for years, and for him not to say the final goodbye to his amir. So Sheikh al-Zarqawi (may God accept him) was killed, while he was in his prison, as a prisoner among the Crusaders, moving about between their prisons and their confinements.
Calling to God in the prisons of the Crusaders
In his prison, Sheikh Abu Muhammad was not one to withdraw from his frontline, nor was he one to allow the ideas of the people of error in its various types to contaminate the manhaj of the people of Tawheed or corrupt their errors. For he was resisting any deviation he found inside the prison, and he would stand in the face of all who strove to make the mujahideen err, exploiting the psychological pressure they felt in their confinements, through drawing them to irja' if they found in them weakness and lack of capability, or pushing them to extremism if they found in them anger and foolishness. And the soldiers of the Islamic State still remember his stance in the face of the extremists inside the prison after a generation of the Khawarij came out in one of the areas, and their extreme ideas seeped into the inside of the prison, as those extremists relied on false doubts they took from some of the books that they did not read well, and pronouncements they transmitted from some of the 'ulama of evil that they did not understand.
And when the brothers who were facilitating the affairs of the soldiers of the Islamic State inside the prison found the greatness of the fitna of the extremists and their danger, they entrusted Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Furqan with repelling them, and his wisdom and good policy in his management of that prickly portfolio, for he did not clash with the heads of the extremists, and he did not devote attention to them lest he should grant them a value they did not deserve or a leadership they did not possess, but rather in order to refute them he established a detailed series of Shari'i lectures, in the aspect of rulings of the abode. And he began teaching this elaborated course to those he trusted from the brothers and he tested them in it. So the one who passed the course, he permitted him to teach it to other brothers.
And the mujahideen made hundreds of copies of this course, which they wrote on papers they tore from the packets of juice that was offered to them with the meals, and they memorised it. This course began to move from room to room inside the one prison, and the brothers began to learn it, so they refuted the doubts of the extremists of whom the majority were ignorant in the religion and superficial in thought, and thus God Almighty blessed the brothers inside the prison by separating out the prisoners, and protecting the mujahideen from their doubts in the time in which the soldiers of the Islamic State began to harvest their heads in the various regions of Iraq, such that their fitna was extinguished and their evil disappeared, by the grace of God alone.
In his prison he was an example for wala' and bara', and an example for showing the might against the disbelievers even as he was a prisoner among them, for he remained showing hostility to them, and dealt with them impolitely, and stood in their face, defending his brothers, and he was not mild with them despite his considerable forced contact with them, for his knowledge of the English language compelled him to work as a translator for his brothers inside the prison, such that he was a source of annoyance for the jailers, and a source of strengthening of souls of the prisoners and detainees.
Re-establishing the media apparatus in the Islamic State
God Almighty granted for the sheikh to leave the prison of the idolatrous Rafidites, and only days later he met his brothers and returned to work with them. For they were awaiting this day for years, and they were awaiting the likes of them to establish he edifice of the media from anew after the succession of strikes that the media apparatus of the Islamic State had received, from the killing of cadres, assault of the offices and bases, and abundance of changing of officials for it. For no sooner was one of the mujahideen entrusted it than God afflicted him with imprisonment, or granted for him to be killed, in a time among the most difficult times that the Islamic State went through in general, so the Amir al-Mu'mineen Abu Omar al-Baghdadi (may God Almighty accept him) appointed him as head of the Media Ministry in the Islamic State of Iraq, and he appeared in the second ministerial formation under the name of 'Professor Ahmad al-Ta'i.'
After the grace of God alone, his great concern for security procedures, what he was known for from intense concealment, sound choice of cover by which he should move, and the intensity of his movement had a great role in his escaping from the hands of the apostates who circulated his name and photos anew to their checkpoints, seeking to arrest him. And these qualities were long-established in him and he had not become detached from them since the first days of his jihad. For all who knew him knew from his intense dislike for any question concerning his person or revealing any private information about himself. And he held most of his meetings with the brothers and his encounters with them in general places, changing them everytime, and most of his movements in the towns were done on foot in order to avoid the barriers and checkpoints. And his cover by which he moved as a doctor was very close to his persona and original profession, which contributed- by the grace of God Almighty- to distancing the doubts about him, and reduced the apostates' tracking of him.
And in this difficult time, the obligation of Sheikh Abu Muhammad was to rebuild the media apparatus of the Islamic State, and strengthen its centre embodied at the time in al-Furqan Foundation, and re-establish the connection with the peripheries represented in the offices of the wilayas, and indeed securing the connection again with the brances of al-Qa'ida in the world in order to respond to their attacks on the Isamic State and its manhaj, and clarify to them what confused them from issues in this regard. And this mission was taken up with him by Sheikh Abu Ali al-Anbari (may God accept him).
And as the amni strikes were the greatest feature of that stage, and on account of the weakness of the structure of the media apparatus of the Islamic State at the time, this apparatus was on the verge of complete collapse through one strike and particularly after the Rafidites and their Crusader allies discovered a secret base of the al-Furqan Foundation inside the city of Baghdad, and they assaulted the base, as there was the epic battle in which two of the mujahideen defied death in their heroism- namely, Abu Faysal al-Iraqi and Nasir al-Jazrawi- in resisting the attacking forces, and inflicting a massacre on the apostates, until they (may God Almighty accept them both) were killed, such that the al-Furqan Foundation would have ended with them were it not for the grace of God, for the two heroes were the nucleus of this foundation, producing its releases, overseeing- with some of their brothers who were around them- all of its activities.
And when the news reached Sheikh Abu Muhammad, he rushed to withdraw those of the brothers who were safe to the city of Mosul, so that the establishment of media work should begin through them again, despite the fact that the greatest weight of the work fell on his shoulder and not that of others besides him.
The spring of the mujahideen
So in that time in which the entry of the muhajireen was reduced, and in which obtaining trained media cadres became difficult, he found that it was necessary to establish work from anew, and he began by himself, so he began reading about the arts of design, montage and production, and learning from the Internet what would help him on that, such that he found in himself the capability of work, so he began in working on producing a series of releases of al-Furqan Foundation (may God bless them) and they became the focus of people's attention in the east and west of the land, for there was the 'Anbar Spring' and there was the 'Clanging of the Swords' in its first three releases, and whose secret was hidden even to the brothers closest to the Sheikh and those working with him, for he would give them the release before its publication in order to seek their advice on its matter and note their observations of it, and he deceived them that a team of the brothers had produced it, and that was only out of his sincerity (may God accept him), and we reckon it as such, and God is his reckoner.
And that time of re-establishing the media of the Islamic State coincided with many important events, the most important of which was the departure of the American Crusader forces from Iraq, humiliated and routed, and the return of the thrust to the military operations of the soldiers of the Islamic State in the various wilayas of Iraq, and likewise the launching of the demonstrations in various countries, which the media dubbed the demonstrations of the 'Arab Spring,' whose echoes extended to inside Iraq. And despite the fact most people were misled by these events, and the people of error marketed them as being better than the manhaj of the mujahideen in the path of God, the leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq realised that there was no value to the peaceful demonstrations, and no truth to the Jahili calls even if they led to the bringing down of the Tawagheet, as they were certain that there was no alternative to jihad in the path of God to establish the religion and implement the ruling of the Shari'a of the Lord of the Worlds. And they knew that the greatest benefit these demonstrations and the chaos accompanying them offered was that the Tawagheet and their soldiers would be distracted, facilitating the mujahideen to direct the annihilating strikes at them, and establish the Islamic State over the heaps of their collapsing thrones. So the release 'Spring of Anbar' was a clear message in this regard, to affirm that there is no retreat from the manhaj of jihad, and that the true spring of the Muslims is in their establishing of the religion, and their path on the Sunna of the best of those sent (prayers and peace be upon him).
As for the field confirmation of these facts, it was embodied in the sending of the mujahideen from Iraq to al-Sham, in order to establish the foundation for the project of the jihad against Bashar the tyrant of al-Sham, benefiting from the state of chaos that struck al-Sham following the demonstrations that had not ceased for months, and began turning into armed operation with the intensity of the repression by the soldiers of the Taghut in the areas that came out calling for the bringing down of the Nusayri regime, just as the mujahideen of the Islamic State of Iraq began escalating their operations in the various wilayas of Iraq and intensity the damage against the Rafidites and the apostate Sahwa forces, and making preparations to come down from the desert to seize control of the towns. These events laid the way- by the grace of God alone- for the realisation of tamkin for the Islamic State, and renewal of the Caliphate on the Prophetic Methodology, then the greatest and last Crusader campaign- by the permission of God Almighty- against the Islamic State.
And Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Furqan- may God accept him- had a great role in these very great events after his migration to al-Sham, and his undertaking of new assignments in the Islamic State, and this is what we will reveal- by the permission of God- in the next part of this fragrant biography. We ask God to help us and make right our path, and praise be to God the Lord of the Worlds.