Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Was An Islamic State Leader Killed In Iraq’s Anbar Recently?

In late February 2015 there were reports that a senior leader within the Islamic State (IS) was killed in Iraq’s Anbar province. Abu Muslim al-Turkmani one of the top two lieutenants to the Islamic State’s (IS) head Abu Bakr Baghdadi was said to have died in a Coalition air strike along the Syrian border. The problem was that he supposedly died in December 2014 in a similar attack. To further complicate the matter there was other reporting that he was not even amongst the dead. If true this would be another major hit to the organization that has lost several other important leaders in the last several months, but the problem as ever is confirming these deaths.

On February 26, 2015 the Iraqi press reported that Abu Muslim al-Turkmani was killed by a Coalition air strike in Qaim, Anbar. A number of high level Islamic State assets were gathered along the Iraq-Syrian border, and were targeted by the U.S. led alliance. Early reports claimed that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi might have been there, but that didn’t turn out to be true. Instead, Turkmani was said to have died along with several other important IS members. The problem with this was that Turkmani was supposedly killed by another missile strike back in December 2014. The Chinese wire service Xinhua further complicated the matter by saying that Turkmani was not even there.

If Turkmani was killed it would be a major blow to IS. Turkmani, whose real name is Fadil Ahmad Abdullah al-Hayali is from Tal Afar in Ninewa and is believed to be a Turkmen. He is a former Baathist, who was a lieutenant colonel in intelligence and Special Forces under Saddam. He is a member of the Shura Council and Provincial Council within IS and is one of Baghdadi’s top two deputies with responsibility for running Iraq. He would be the highest IS member to be killed since the U.S. and its allies began operating again in Iraq.

Given that this was the second reported death of Turkmani it is hard to believe either reports. Also with such a high level death IS would likely release a public announcement at some point to mark him as a martyr. That has not happened yet so this report and the earlier one from 2014 have to be viewed with quite a bit of skepticism. Until there is other confirmation it cannot be determined what Turkmani’s fate is.


Abbas, Mushreq, “Decentralization of powers weakens IS,” Al Monitor, 1/20/15

Al Arabiya, “Blow broke the back of Daash .. killing Baghdadi’s deputy and his army commander,” 12/18/14

Barrett, Richard, “The Islamic State,” Soufan Group, November 2014

NINA, “Karhut announced the probability of the injury of al-Baghdadi in bombing carried out by coalition aircraft on al-Qaim city,” 2/26/15

Shafaq News, “An official source: Al-Baghdadi’s assistant and deputy administrator of Euphrates killed in al-Qaim strikes,” 2/26/15

Sherlock, Ruth, “Inside the leadership of Islamic State: how the new ‘caliphate’ is run,” Telegraph, 7/9/14

Xinhua, “At least 15 IS militants killed in U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in western Iraq,” 2/26/15

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