Captured Iraqi Daesh member details splits in the extremist group

Iraq said it had arrested Abdul Nasser Qardash. (Courtesy: Al Arabiya)
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Updated 21 May 2020

Captured Iraqi Daesh member details splits in the extremist group

  • Abdul Nasser Qardash told Al Arabiya that new Daesh leader ‘not as firm’ as Al-Baghdadi

LONDON: A senior Daesh member being held in Iraq has described the group’s new leader as “not as firm” as his predecessor Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

Iraq said on Wednesday it had arrested Abdul Nasser Qardash, a militant who had been operating since before the extremist group was formed.

However, analysts said Qardash was arrested last year in Syria and recently handed over to Iraq by Kurdish forces.

In an interview with Al Arabiya, Qardash described the divisions within the extremist group that once held control of large parts of Syria and Iraq. 

He said he was in direct contact with Al-Baghdadi, who was killed by US special forces last year. He is also known to the new leader Ameer Muhammed Saeed Al-Salbi Al-Mawla, who is also known as Haji Abdullah, or Abdullah Qardash.

Speaking about Al-Baghdadi, Abdul Nasser Qardash said: “He was known to be so firm and would not retract his decisions easily.” 

However, the current leader is “not as firm,” he said. 

He said there was a deep divide within Daesh between the Arab members and the “foreigners,” as well as the theft of funds and the expelling of families during battles.

He also said there were disputes over the killing of prisoners. The group specialised in brutal executions and beheadings, which they videoed and posted online as part of its warped propaganda.

“We had to revise some of the group’s ideas after losing some territory,” Qardash said.

It was unclear where exactly the interview took place.

The new Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi on Thursday referred to Qardash’s “capture” and said it helped foil a terrorist attack. He also said Daesh activity in Iraq was increasing.

In announcing Qardash was in custody, Iraqi state media said that he was also considered a successor to Al-Baghdadi.

However, this appears to overstate his role.

Born in Mosul, Qardash fought with Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which was the predecessor of Daesh.

He chaired Daesh’s delegated committee but told Al Arabiya he was removed from this position after a meeting with Al-Baghdadi, because they “disagreed of some points of view.”

He oversaw several military operations in both Syria and Iraq. 

Al-Baghdadi blew himself up in October after he was cornered by US special forces in a cave at his hideout in Syria. 

Daesh emerged in 2011 as an extremist faction in the Syrian conflict that installed brutal rules and punishments in the territory it controlled. In 2014, it launched an attack into northern Iraq, sparking fighting with government troops, militias and an international coalition that eventually beat the extremists out of Iraq’s main cities by the end of 2017.


Turkey to arrest 82 including mayor over pro-Kurdish protests

Updated 25 September 2020

Turkey to arrest 82 including mayor over pro-Kurdish protests

ANKARA: Turkish authorities on Friday issued arrest warrants for 82 people, including a mayor, over pro-Kurdish protests six years ago, officials and local media said.
The warrants relate to October 2014 protests in Turkey sparked by the seizure by Islamic State (IS) jihadists of the mainly Kurdish Syrian town of Kobane.
Police were on the hunt for the 82 suspects in the Turkish capital and six other provinces, the Ankara chief public prosecutor's office said in a statement.
The prosecutor's office did not specify what offences the 82 are alleged to have committed.
But it said crimes committed during the protests included murder, attempted murder, theft, damaging property, looting, burning the Turkish flag and injuring 326 security officials and 435 citizens.
There was also a warrant for the mayor of the eastern city of Kars, Ayhan Bilgen, Hurriyet daily reported.
Bilgen won the city in 2019 local elections representing the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which is Turkey's second-largest opposition group in the parliament.
Of a total of 65 HDP mayors returned in those elections, 47 have now been replaced by unelected officials, with some detained on terror charges, the party said last month.
The Turkish government accuses the HDP of being a political front for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party -- which has waged an insurgency against the state since 1984 -- but the party denies this.
Former HDP co-leaders, Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas, were named in the investigation but both have been in jail since 2016 pending multiple trials.
The government accused the HDP of urging people to take part in the protests across Turkey that left 37 dead.
But the HDP blames Turkish police for the violence.