This morning, the Iraqi government announced that Moataz Numan al-Jaburi (Haji Tayseer), a senior member of the Islamic State (IS), had been killed in Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria by an airstrike from the U.S.-led Coalition, utilising intelligence supplied by Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS, Jihaz Mukafahat al-Irhab).
Tayseer first came to public attention in an important way at the end of summer 2019, when the U.S. State Department’s Rewards of Justice scheme released a notice for three senior IS jihadists—Tayseer, Muhammad al-Mawla (Abdallah Qardash or Haji Abdallah al-Afri), who is now “caliph” after the demise of Ibrahim al-Badri (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) in October, and Sami al-Jaburi (Haji Hamid).
Tayseer is a “legacy member” of the IS movement from the days when it was known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq (i.e. 2004-06) according to the Rewards for Justice notice, which offered $5 million for information leading to his capture or killing. Tayseer has “overseen bomb-making for ISIS terrorist and insurgent activities”. Subsequent publicity material from Rewards for Justice described Tayseer as “one of the most important leaders in ISIS and … the deputy amir of manufacturing in Syria” as of mid-2017, a role that including being “in charge of the Research Department for ISIS’s chemical and biological weapons efforts”.
Baghdad recently announced that it had Abd al-Nasr Qardash, a member of IS’s Delegated Committee (the executive body overseeing the group), in custody. Abd al-Nasr, who claims his real name is Taha al-Ghassani, gives a description of Tayseer’s activities that matches up with the Rewards for Justice contention.
Abd al-Nasr claims he was removed as deputy of the Northern Baghdad wilaya (province) in late 2011 after opposing the plans to start seizing territory, and was pushed into work as the emir of manufacturing (al-tasniye’), working in close concert with “Haji Fathi”, presumably Fathi al-Tunisi (Abu Sayyaf al-Iraqi), Tayseer, and Abu Sa’d al-Iraqi, a Tunisian engineer apparently educated in Germany.
Tayseer next appears in Abd al-Nasr’s story in late 2017, after the reappearance of Al-Badri to put an end to the factional struggle around the Hazimi issue that involved the removal of Ismail al-Ithawi (Abu Zayd al-Iraqi) as head of the Delegated Committee, among other things. Abd al-Nasr describes Tayseer at this time as doing effectively the same job of weapons research and procurement with many of the same people.
HOW SENIOR WAS TAYSEER?
The Iraq government spokesman says that when Tayseer was killed he was serving as IS’s wali (governor) of Iraq and was responsible for planning the group’s external terrorist operations. Baghdad is notoriously unreliable about these matters and has every incentive to inflate Tayseer’s position.
From the pieces of evidence available, it seems reasonably clear Tayseer worked on military aspects for IS and from his work with and near Fathi al-Tunisi it seems likely that Tayseer was at some point one of the group’s “middle managers”. With the recent losses of personnel and Tayseer’s longevity with the organisation, promotion is entirely possible. Iraqi analyst Husham al-Hashimi recently reported for the Center for Global Policy (CGP) that this is exactly what had happened.
By Al-Hashimi’s account, Tayseer had a seat on the Delegated Committee when he was struck down.
THE ROAD TO TAYSEER
The CTS statement says that the Iraqis had been briefly tracking Tayseer before the strike that killed him as part of the “Lions of the Jazeera” operation, begun on 20 May, designed to clear terrorists out of the deserts along the Iraq-Syria border, plus sweep northern Anbar province, southern Ninawa, and western Salahuddin.
The “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) announced on 4 May that it had, in collaboration with the Coalition, captured Anwar Farhan, an IS operative, in Deir Ezzor, and information from Farhan led to the capture of IS’s financial emir for Raqqa and Deir Ezzor.
There is then the 17 May Coalition/SDF raid in Deir Ezzor that killed the wali of North Baghdad, Ahmad Isa Ismail al-Zawi (Abu Ali al-Baghdadi), also killed Ahmad Abd Muhammad Hasan al-Jughayfi (Abu Ammar), who “was a senior ISIS logistics and supplies official” moving weapons and personnel “across Iraq and Syria”.
Al-Jughayfi’s demise in that area suggests the Coalition has some visibility into the IS logistics infrastructure in eastern Syria, and if information from Farhan led to Al-Jughayfi then it is reasonable to assume the same intelligence stream at least fed into the strike that killed Tayseer.
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 Husham al-Hashimi identifies the Iraqi wali as Jabbar Salman Ali al-Issawi, who uses the kunyas Abu Yasr and Abu Abdallah al-Hafez. Little is known of Jabbar al-Issawi, but—assuming he is the “Abu Yasr al-Iraqi” being referred to—it seems Al-Issawi was one of the senior officials in Wilayat Shamal Baghdad (North Baghdad) around 2015 and Abd al-Nasr also provided some details. Abd al-Nasr says that when he was appointed deputy to the Syrian division of the Supervisory Committee in August 2014—the body that later became the Delegated Committee—he served under Abu Yasr al-Iraqi. Abd al-Nasr says he handled administrative matters and Abu Yasr handled the military file. If Abd al-Nasr is to be believed, the caliph made the decision to stand and fight for Kobani—very atypical conduct from IS, which generally cedes urban zones when faced with overwhelming firepower to protect its manpower—after discussing it with Abu Yasr.
Post has been updated