Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
| Party Like It's 632|
|Turning towards Mecca|
“”Islam was never the religion of peace. Islam is the religion of war.
|—Daesh Grand Poobah Caliph Ibrahim al-Badri aka al-Baghdadi|
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, full name Ibrahim bin ‘Awad bin Ibrahim al-Badri ar-Radawi al-Husseini as-Samara’i, real name Ibrahim ibn Awwad al-Badri al-Samarrai (b. 1971) a.k.a. Abu Du'a[note 1] and Caliph Ibrahim al-Badri is a mysterious figure and self-declared Emir of the State of Islam in Iraq and Syria, or "Daesh", alleged descendant of the Prophet Muhammad[note 2][note 3], Commander of the Faithful (Amir al-Mu'minin) and Caliph of all Muslims.
Baghdadi's accession to the office of caliph did not occur without controversy; the title of "Commander of the Faithful"[note 4] was disputed by the Taliban boss Mullah Omar and his al-Qaeda and Afghan veteran supporters until his death was belatedly announced two years after the fact. Daesh proponents who put forth Baghdadi as the leading protagonist cite Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal's hadith:
“”Whoever overcomes them by the sword such that he has become Caliph and is called Amir al-Mu'minin, it is not permitted for anyone who believes in God to remain and not recognize an Imam, regardless of whether he is pious or immoral.
Baghdadi attended the University of Baghdad where in 1996 he earned a bachelor's degree in Islamic studies. He proceeded to further Koranic studies and obtained a Masters degree in 1999, and a PhD in 2007, both from the Saddam University for Islamic Studies in Iraq. He is said to have founded (c.2003) his own small insurgent group, the Jaysh Ahl al-Sunna, active in Samara, Diyala and Baghdad. He was held captive by U.S. Forces-Iraq at Camp Bucca near Basra from February until December 2004 as a "civilian detainee" but eventually was recommended for an "unconditional release" by a Combined Review and Release Board. While in Bucca, Baghdadi made contact with several of Saddam Hussein's ex-military and intelligence commanders from the Ba'ath Party who were to became Baghdadi's deputies in the organization Daesh.
Upon his release Baghdadi signed on with Jaysh al-Mujahideen for a time in 2005. Its spiritual adviser, Abu Abdullah Muhammad al-Mansour, wrote of the man who would become Caliph:
“”I bear witness by God - and there is no other deity except Him - to what I know from familiarity with this imposter who has called himself Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as he had studied under me with a group of the erudite ones...in the year 2005, then the study was cut off because of my arrest, and I had got to know him very well. He was of limited intelligence, slow to understand, pale in intuitive grasp. For he is not from among the average students of Islamic knowledge ['ilm], and his studies background are academic studies in the government universities, whose standard is emaciated and which have no relation with forming a student of knowledge, let alone a knowledgeable person [referring to Baghdadi's time at the Islamic University of Baghdad].
Then indeed he was with us till the end of 2005 among the soldiers of our army. He was not among those outstanding in the field, nor was he of the people of assault and patrol, nor was he of special missions, nor do we recall for him an attested incident in reinforcements or confrontation until I was arrested, at which point the man turned on the brothers, became angry, and began stirring up problems in the group...I entreat God that I do not say this for the inclination in my soul, but I would not be recording it were it not for the fact they have written down their testimony/witness in a book and wanted what they wanted from this book...Thus I confirm...that not only is this Abu Bakr not steeped in knowledge or a capable student of knowledge, but also he is not the master of a single accredited book in aqeeda [creed] or fiqh [jurisprudence], and our brothers from the Iraqi students of knowledge from all the groups and approaches know this very well, and know that there is no link between him and Islamic knowledge, and are aware of the very emaciated level of Shari'a knowledge that the government universities offer."
Mujahideen Shura Council
In 2006 his group became associated with the umbrella organization collectively known in Western media as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI)[note 5], the precursor of the Islamic State, led by Hamid Al-Zawi[note 6] Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was appointed General Supervisor of its Sharia Committee and member of the internal self governing Majlis. In 2010 Hamid Al-Zawi[note 7] was killed, Ibrahim Al Badri promptly changed his name to Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, later adding the tribal additions of Al Hussaini Al Qurayshi designed to position himself as in the line of the Prophet Mohammad. Baghdadi boasts of extensive "security and military experience", and is said to be a former member of Saddam Hussein's notorious, elite gestapo organization, the Fedayeen Saddam.
The Islamic State
In a two month period beginning in March 2011, the Islamic State claimed 23 attacks south of Baghdad, all of which were alleged to have been carried out under al-Baghdadi's command. The organisation became the leading insurgency group in post-American occupied Iraq. The Islamic State courted alliances with Sunni tribes that previously fought alongside American forces against al-Qaeda, but were abandoned by the Americans after they withdrew in December 2011.[note 8]
While Zarqawi, the founder of Daesh, reluctantly proclaimed allegiance to bin Laden, Baghdadi maintained he never did. Nonetheless in eulogizing the deceased Emir of al-Qaeda killed by American Special Forces, Baghdadi threatened retaliation with blood, destruction and fear. Three days later, Baghdadi claimed responsibility for an attack in Hilla, Iraq, that killed 24 policemen and wounded 72 others. On August 15, 2011, a wave of suicide attacks began in Mosul which culminated in over 70 deaths. Shortly thereafter, Baghdadi's pledged on AQI’s website to carry out 100 more attacks in retaliation for bin Laden’s death.
As Caliph he has been somewhat partisan in recognizing and accepting the oaths of allegiance given him by non-Arab Muslims.
Split with Al-Qaeda
On April 8, 2013, Baghdadi tried to subsume control over the Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian arm of al-Qaeda, run by a former Baghdadi lieutenant, Abu Muhammad al Julani. Julani rejected the efforts and upheld his oath to al-Qaeda and bin Laden's successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri. On May 23rd Zawahiri publicly dissolved Baghdadi's new entity, Daesh, and said Baghdadi's operations as the Islamic State of Iraq should be confined to Iraq. Baghdadi openly defied Zawahiri's order. Efforts to mend the rift between Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra failed when al-Qaeda's mediator was murdered by suicide bombers.
For the benefit of below, here is a brief understanding of Arabic names.
- The "Ism" - The person's personal, which indicates a characteristic the namer hoped they would posess. They are usually Arabic adjectives in common usage.
- The "Laqab" - Historically, this was another adjective used alongside the Ism. In modern times this represents the person's family name.
- The "Nasab" - The father's name, represented with "bin"/"ben"/"ibn"/"bint". There may be a few Nasabs, depending on how far the namer wished the individual's heritage to be known.
- The "Nisbah" - The last part of the name indicates a tribe, their city or country. Some people may have a distant ancestor as their Nisbah. Since the Nisbah and Laqab aren't used together in someone's name, then it will assume the Laqab's historical version as a quality.
His birthname, "Ibrahim ibn Awwad al-Badri al-Samarrai", thus reads as: "Ibrahim, son of Awwad, the beautiful, from Samarra"
- From this we gather that his father was called Awwad, that he thought "beautiful" was a good name for his son (though the literal reading of al-Badri is "the moonfaced"), and that they were from Samarra in Iraq.
The longer of his new names is: "Ibrahim bin ‘Awad bin Ibrahim al-Badri ar-Radawi al-Husseini as-Samara’i"
- From this we gather that his father 'Awad is the son of another Ibrahim, that our Ibrahim is beautiful ("al-Badri") and merciful ("al-Radawi"). He is also a descendent of Hussein, a grandson of Mohammed, and is from Samarra.
The shorter of his new names is much different: "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Qurashi al-Husseini"
- Now his personal name is "Abu Bakr". He is from Baghdad (al-Baghdad), and is descended from Mohammed's Qurashi tribe through Hussein.
The last two names are dripping with questionable content and irony, particularly in that he isn't even from Baghdad, let alone from the Qurashi tribe or descended from two Shias in Hussein and Ali. By naming himself a descendent of Hussein, he is thus descended from Ali - both are highly-regarded in Shi'a Islam. This is probably for the sake of legitimising himself for an Iraqi Shi'ite audience, who historically view descendents of Ali as being legitimate Caliph claimants. This hasn't worked out very well in convincing them, since IS is perfectly happy to single Shi'ite soldiers out for execution.
- As shown on U.S. Government wanted posters
- Disputes exist to Ibrahim's use the surname al-Hussaini to convince followers of a relationship to the Prophet Muhammad's bloodline. 
- Statistically speaking he almost certainly is.
- Amir al-Mu'minin invokes a hadith by a companion of the prophet, Abu Hurairah who said, "Whoever obeys me has obeyed God and whoever rebels against me has rebelled against God. And whoever obeys the amir [al-mu'minin] has obeyed me and whoever rebels against the amir has rebelled against me, and indeed the imam is a shield behind whom one fights and by which one seeks protection."
- Technically, the Mujahideen Shura Council (Iraq)
- Same as Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi, a different Baghdadi . Abu Bakr took part of Abu Omar's name to denote successorship in the organization.
- AKA Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, among several others
- See for example 1920s Revolution Brigades; over 130 tribal militia's were said to have participated in Iraq's Awakening Councils, organized by Gens. George Casey and David Petraeus to fight with US forces against al-Qaeda during the insurgency.
- From Islamic State (ISIS) Leader Al-Baghdadi Issues Call To Arms To All Muslims, MEMRI, May 14, 2015.
- Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – a Short Biography of the ISIS Sheikh, July 15, 2014 by Pieter Van Ostaeyen.
- BBC; William McCants, March 8, 2016: Who is Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?
- Mr.Orange's War Tracker
- DABIQ Magazine, Issue 1, pp. 7-8.
- Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011) concerning Al-Qaida and associated individuals: Ibrahim ibn Awwad al-Badri al-Samarrai.
- Abu Du'a, Rewards for Justice, U.S. State Department.
- Al Qaeda’s Top Envoy Killed in Syria by Rival Rebel Group, TIME Magazine, February 24, 2014.