ISIS leader Al Mawla's treachery led to death of his comrade in US air strikes

Information given in Camp Bucca interrogations betrayed true scope of terrorist network

Amir Mohammed Said Abd Al Rahman Al Mawla. AFP
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The current leader of ISIS was an informant whose betrayal of his comrades led to at least one commander's death in a US air strike, newly released American intelligence reports have shown.

Amir Al Mawla, who took over the ISIS leadership last October, provided American intelligence officials with “reams” of highly sensitive information on his colleagues.

The declassified documents released by the Combatting Terrorism Centre at West Point, showed that Al Mawla identified at least 20 fellow terrorists including security chiefs, "judges" and key administrators.

He also either provided or confirmed to the Americans his own identity card, as well as his wife’s and son’s Iraqi paperwork.

“Al Mawla was a rat who gave up a lot of information on others in IS,” the centre's Daniel Milton said. “What does that tell you about him?”

Until now, little has been know, about Al Mawla except his nicknames, the Professor and the Destroyer, and a reputation for brutality.

When he was detained by US forces in Camp Bucca, Iraq, in 2004 while an Al Qaeda operative, he was shown photographs of his comrades.

He identified them and gave detailed information about them.

He essentially gave them the lot

It is understood that his information gave the Americans enough intelligence to conduct a strike that killed one of Al Mawla’s comrades in 2008.

If ISIS concludes that he did betray fellow terrorists, it is possible that he will be deposed and killed.

The tactical interrogation reports on Al Mawla showed that under questioning he gave up dozens of his colleagues.

The released reports show Al Mawla gave names of key figures in the terrorist hierarchy fighting the US military in Iraq.

These included operatives in charge of the military, administrative, media, Sharia and security sections.

Al Mawla also provided the organisational structure for Al Qaeda-linked operations in Mosul, and junior personnel and previous leaders.

He gave details of “high-value individuals” from the Mosul area.

The group Al Qaeda in Iraq split into what would become ISIS about a decade ago, leaving Osama bin Laden and his successors.

The documents showed he also identified a man called Ustaz Ahmad as the person “ultimately responsible for approving attacks by Al Qaeda in Iraq fighters on proposed targets”.

“This will severely undermine ISIS's brand and credibility, and will really shake trust in the leadership and those who have supported Al Mawla's rise through the organisation,” said Haroro Ingram from George Washington University’s Programme on Extremism.

During questioning he asked the interrogators what they did, where they were, what their responsibilities were, and their nationalities.

The interrogation reports released in the US fill in a largely blank slate of what was known about Al Mawla.

ISIS announced him as their new leader with the name Abu Ibrahim Al Hashimi Al Qurashi after its former chief, Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, was killed in a special forces raid in October last year.

The US government later publicly identified Al Qurashi as Al Mawla, who was an obscure figure despite his close relationship with Al Baghdadi.

By going through old interrogation records, US intelligence identified him as one of their informants.

Al Mawla was a former officer in Saddam Hussein’s army and comes from Mahalabiyah in northern Iraq. He graduated from the Islamic Sciences College in Mosul.

After the 2003 US-led invasion Al Mawla turned to violent extremism and emerged as a general Sharia jurist for Al Qaeda.

It is unclear when he was released from Camp Bucca but it was assumed he returned to Mosul and his terrorist activities.

In 2014 he joined ISIS and pledged allegiance to Al Baghdadi, allowing the terrorists to take control of Mosul.

Al Mawla was allegedly in the leadership group that gave the ruling for ISIS to murder and enslave thousands of Yazidis.

The latest intelligence reports suggest the ISIS leader is hiding in a small group of towns to the west of Mosul, or that he fled into Turkey.

Al Mawla has a $10 million (Dh36.7m) US bounty on his head and has been named by Washington as a specially designated global terrorist.