Abdallah Najem al-Jawari: A Key Early Leader of the Islamic State

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 28, 2017


Abdallah Najem al-Jawari (Abu Azzam al-Iraqi) was something like the Islamic State (IS) movement’s first Finance Minister and a senior regional official, first in his native Anbar—he was from Fallujah—and later in Baghdad. Joining the group quickly after the collapse of the Saddam Husayn regime, al-Jawari was killed in 2005. Al-Jawari remains among those commemorated by IS as founders who set the stage for the current rise of “the State”.

Al-Jawari joined with Ahmad al-Khalayleh (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi) and what was then Jamaat al-Tawhid wal-Jihad and would soon be al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) very early after Saddam fell as part of a group that contained Abu Zahra al-Issawi, who led the media department between 2007 and the summer of 2009. Al-Issawi took over the media file from Khalid al-Mashadani (Abu Zayd al-Mashadani), who was extremely important to IS while in position and after his capture. Al-Issawi oversaw the department when its job was providing proof-of-life and a sense of progress as the IS movement battled for its existence in the deserts, harassed not only by the Americans but their erstwhile Sunni insurgent allies. IS made no fuss over al-Issawi’s downfall nor that of his successor, Ahmad al-Tai. Taha Falaha, who acceded to office as the media department underwent further reforms as IS recovered, became very well-known as IS’s spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, after 2011, when the media department was passed to Wael al-Fayad (Dr. Wael al-Rawi), who was assisted by Amr al-Absi (Abu al-Atheer) and Bandar al-Shaalan.

As with all leaders of IS’s media portfolio, al-Issawi had impeccable Salafi and educational credentials, a long-time member of the underground Salafi Trend that, by commission and omission, was allowed to grow under Saddam. It can be assumed al-Jawari came from a similar milieu.

Al-Jawari “served as the terrorist emir of Anbar province for much of 2004 and led the largest group of al-Qaeda in Iraq fighters in Fallujah during autumn 2004 until coalition forces defeated them during Operation DAWN,” according to the U.S. Defense Department. As emir in al-Anbar, al-Jawari had been ruthless, including orchestrating the assassination of a number of government officials.

“In spring 2005, he assumed the position of emir of Baghdad, in which he reportedly directed and controlled all terrorist activity and operations in and around the city,” the Pentagon said, and had been “responsible for the upsurge in violent attacks in the city since April [2005]”.

As well as being the chief financier of AQI, al-Jawari “was the operational commander for … al-Qaeda in Iraq network” by early 2005 at the latest.

A joint U.S.-Iraqi operation killed al-Jawari in a morning raid on 25 September 2005. “Multiple intelligence sources and corroborating information from a close associate of Abu Azzam led coalition and Iraqi security forces to the terrorist safe house where he was hiding,” the Pentagon reported. “The mission was designed to capture him, but Abu Azzam fired on the forces, and their return fire killed him”.

While the Finance Minister job is often indicative of a middle manager, one of the important parts of the connective tissue within the organization and between its leadership and the foot-soldiers and population it seeks to lead, as was the case with Fathi al-Tunisi (Abu Sayyaf al-Iraqi), the position’s connectedness, sensitivity, and oversight role can also mean it is given to very senior people like Abdurrahman al-Qaduli (Abu Ali al-Anbari). Al-Jawari was in the running to succeed al-Zarqawi when it was believed al-Zarqawi might be mortally wounded in early 2005.

4 thoughts on “Abdallah Najem al-Jawari: A Key Early Leader of the Islamic State

  1. Pingback: The Islamic State’s Profile of Umar Hadid | The Syrian Intifada

  2. Pingback: The Leader of the Islamic State in the 2004 Fallujah Battles: Umar Hadid | The Syrian Intifada

  3. Pingback: The Islamic State’s Media Apparatus and its New Spokesman | Kyle Orton's Blog

  4. Pingback: The First Speech of Islamic State Spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani | Kyle Orton's Blog

Leave a Reply