Captured Iraqi Daesh member details splits in the extremist group

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

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.


Israel sends Palestinians over $1 bn in withheld funds: minister

Updated 30 min 44 sec ago

Israel sends Palestinians over $1 bn in withheld funds: minister

  • The Palestinians stopped coordination with Israel in May in response to Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank
  • Israel later put its annexation plans on hold

RAMALLAH: Israel has released more than $1 billion in funds withheld from the Palestinian Authority, a Palestinian minister said Wednesday, weeks after coordination was renewed between the two sides.
“The Israeli government transfers all financial dues of the clearance to the account of the Palestinian Authority, amounting to three billion and 768 million shekels,” civil affairs minister Hussein Al-Sheikh wrote on Twitter, referring to taxes, including customs taxes, that the Jewish state collects on behalf of the PA.

In May, the Palestinians stopped coordination with Israel, with PA leader Mahmud Abbas saying it was in response to Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank.
Israel later put its annexation plans on hold, in return for an agreement to normalize ties with the United Arab Emirates, announced in August.
In halting the cooperation with Israel, the PA also stopped accepting transfer of taxes — particularly customs duties — collected by Israel on its behalf.
Earlier in the week, an Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity that the “security cabinet approved transferring the money to the PA,” without specifying the amount.
Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said on Monday the Palestinians were “entitled” to the funds, expected to relieve pressure on a Palestinian economy in the grips of a severe budgetary crisis.
Officials “will take everything they are owed. They have been patient for months and it’s only a matter of a little more time to make everything clear,” Shtayyeh said.
Deprived of this income, the PA had to cut the salaries of its civil servants, at a time when the Palestinian economy had begun grappling with the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.