Adnan al-Suwaydawi: Saddam’s Spy, Islamic State Leader

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 31, 2017

Adnan al-Suwaydawi (source)

Adnan al-Suwaydawi (source)

A video from the Islamic State yesterday listed a series of prominent past leaders of the organization. One was Adnan al-Suwaydawi,[1] whose full name is Adnan Latif Hamid al-Suwaydawi al-Dulaymi, and who is known most commonly either as Abu Muhannad al-Suwaydawi or Haji Dawud. For a long time, al-Suwaydawi was also mistakenly assigned the kunya “Abu Ayman al-Iraqi”, who was in fact a different IS commander. Al-Suwaydawi was killed on 15 May 2015 by a Coalition airstrike in Anbar Province, western Iraq, but he is credited by the Islamic State with their overrunning Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, the next day. A biography of al-Suwaydawi was circulated by IS supporters on or around 21 May 2015; it is reproduced below.


Abu Muhannad al-Suwaydawi (also known as Haji Dawud or Abu Abdisalam) was among the leaders of Islamic State and one of its pillars. He was a practicing scholar and a highly-experienced military man.[2]

He was appointed to administer some of the important centres in the Islamic State. He was the governor of al-Anbar towards the end of his life and was the fuel of its battles.

He was among the closest people to [the Islamic State’s founder] Shaykh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi[3] and Abu Abdurrahman al-Bilawi[4] (May God accept them all). Al-Suwaydawi and al-Bilawi were friends both in childhood and in jihad.

Al-Suwaydawi was determined in his matters, never compromising on the religion of Allah and harsh against the enemies of Allah. Humbleness and kindness is what we saw in him; he used to be soft with his soldiers and was held in high esteem among them. He liked the muhajireen (foreign fighters) so much and was patient with their shortcomings.

Picture of Adnan al-Suwaydawi after he was arrested in 2007.

Picture of Adnan al-Suwaydawi after he was arrested in 2007.

I heard that he witnessed the first and the second battles of Fallujah [in 2004]. He was very brave and an ideal leader. He would advance with his soldiers during the battles and would inspire them, hence strengthening their determination.

[Al-Suwaydawi was imprisoned by the Americans in 2007, and was released in 2010, moving straight to Latakia on the Syrian coast.]

He planned the epic battles in al-Anbar and participated in them. He also planned the Abu Ghraib prison break [on 21 July 2013, which possibly freed al-Bilawi and did free Wissam al-Zubaydi (Abu Nabil al-Anbari)[5] among 500 or so others,] and Allah opened it through his hands. Mere words are insufficient to describe the status of such men.

He got martyred by a crusader airstrike after many years of combating the enemies of Allah. May Allah have mercy on you, O noble shaykh.

Adnan al-Suwaydawi, deceased, 2015

Adnan al-Suwaydawi, deceased, 2015

“Among the believers are men true to the covenant which they made with Allah: Among them is he who has fulfilled his vow, and among them is he who yet awaits [his chance]. And they have not changed [the terms of the covenant] in the least” [Al-Ahzab: 23].[6]



[1] Suwaydawi is sometimes given as Sweidawi.

[2] Al-Suwaydawi served in the same air force intelligence unit as Samir al-Khlifawi (Haji Bakr), the caliph’s deputy between 2011 and 2014.

[3] Al-Zarqawi’s real name was Ahmad al-Khalayleh

[4] Al-Bilawi’s real name is Adnan al-Bilawi, a former captain in Saddam’s army, who planned the June 2014 conquest of Mosul. Al-Bilawi’s full profile can be read here.

[5] Al-Zubaydi also went by the kunya Abu Mughira al-Qahtani and Abu Yazan al-Humairi. Al-Zubaydi’s full profile is here.

[6] “Among the believers are men” is the name adopted by IS in Dabiq magazine—not yet transferred to Rumiya (Rome), which replaced Dabiq when IS was expelled from the village of Dabiq and this veil of tears remained—as a sort of replacement for the Distinguished Martyrs series that then-Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) used to run.

14 thoughts on “Adnan al-Suwaydawi: Saddam’s Spy, Islamic State Leader

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