Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti
Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti (1970s/80s – 26 December 2016; born Abdul Mohsen al-Zaghilani al-Taresh or Abdul Mohsen Al-Dhufairi) was a leading official of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, serving as important military commander, recruiter and propagandist. Known for his command capabilities and popular among his subordinates, Abu Jandal was called "The Lion" among ISIL fighters and fought in several battles in Syria and Iraq. By late 2016, Abu Jandal had become ISIL's second highest-ranking commander in Syria and led the defense of its de facto capital Raqqa against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). He was killed by a US airstrike on 26 December 2016.
Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti
|Birth name||Abdul Mohsen al-Zaghilani al-Taresh or Abdul Mohsen Al-Dhufairi|
|Born||1970s or 1980s|
Al Jahra, Kuwait
|Died||26 December 2016|
Near Jabar, Raqqa Governorate, Syria
|Service/||Military of ISIL|
ISIL Media Council
|Years of service||?–2016|
|Rank||"Number two military commander" for ISIL operations in Syria|
|Battles/wars||War on Terror: Military intervention against ISIL
|Relations||Hussein Al-Dhufairi (possibly brother)|
Early career under ISIL
Generally, relatively little is known about Abu Jandal. His birth name has been reported as either "Abdul Mohsen al-Zaghilani al-Taresh" or "Abdul Mohsen Al-Dhufairi". He was born in the city of al Jahra in Kuwait, likely during the 1970s or 1980s, and was at some point influenced and radicalised by Jihadist ideology. As result, he ventured to Syria, where he joined the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Over time, he began to play an important role in recruiting new members for ISIL through social media, appearing in propaganda videos and carrying out executions. He was even appointed to a senior position on the ISIL Media Council. In this way, he won considerable fame and many fans and followers in his home city Al Jahra.
Sometime after joining ISIL, he married the Syrian Jihadist Rahaf Zina, though other reports stated that his wife was Iraqi. The couple eventually had a son, Jandal, whereupon he adopted his kunya Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti ("Father of Jandal, the Kuwaiti") as nom de guerre. He also rose in ranks as military commander, while becoming popular among subordinate ISIL fighters due to his reported modesty. By July 2014, Abu Jandal served as a top commander of the Islamic State's 6,000-man-strong Army of Hasakah, personally leading the Knights Battalion. Over time, he became a "troubleshooter" for ISIL, and the battalion under his command subsequently became known the "Rapid Response Battalion". In August 2014, Abu Jandal helped to brutally suppress the Al-Shaitat tribal rebellion, and around September of that year, he fought in Deir ez-Zor.
ISIL high command
Between 2015 and 2016, Abu Jandal led various military operations in both Iraq as well as Syria, and joined ISIL's War Committee. In this capacity, he was involved in the planning and operation of suicide car bombs, IEDs, and chemical weapons against the SDF, and became closely associated with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as well as ISIL's terror attack planners.
By December 2016, Abu Jandal had risen to the second-most important ISIL commander in Syria, and participated in an offensive to retake Palmyra and its surroundings from the Syrian government. After this attack's success on 11 December, he was redeployed to Raqqa and appointed as chief commander for the defenses of the Islamic State's de facto capital in face of the SDF-led Raqqa campaign. His most important task was protecting ISIL's supply routes to the northern frontlines and al-Bab in the west. Abu Jandal consequently became crucially involved in the battle for the strategic significant village of Jabar. ISIL troops who were probably under his command achieved a minor success during this battle when they surrounded and destroyed a SDF detachment in the village on 21 December, forcing the international SDF volunteer Ryan Lock to kill himself in order to not be captured. Nevertheless, Jabar finally fell to the SDF on 26 December, whereupon Abu Jandal personally organized and led a large-scale counter-attack. In course of this assault, a US airstrike hit his convoy near the village, killing him and his bodyguards; the counter-attack subsequently failed. Abu Jandal was in his thirties when he died.
According to CJTF–OIR, Abu Jandal's death was a heavy blow to ISIL, degrading "ISIL's ability to defend Raqqa and launch external operations against the West." ISIL confirmed his death on 27 December and eulogized him in a video titled "Smashing the Enemies: Regarding the Results of the Army of the Islamic State Against the Apostate PKK on the Outskirts of the Wilayat [al-Raqqa]".
After his death, his widow Rahaf Zina reportedly married Hussein Al-Dhufairi, who is possibly Abu Jandal's brother and another ISIL leader. On March 25, 2017, Hussein Al-Dhufairi and Rahaf Zina were arrested by security forces in Manila, Philippines. Soon after, Kuwaiti security officials executed two raids in Kuwait, arresting three additional family members of Abu Jandal, and seven other suspects. Kuwaiti officials said they found bomb-making equipment during the raids.
- Pascale Menassa (2 July 2014). "The Islamic State's organizational structure one year in". Al Monitor. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
- "IS members arrested in Kuwait, warrants issued for others – Suspects accused of funding, promoting, fighting with radical group". Kuwait Times. 17 September 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
- Habib Toumi (16 April 2017). "Kuwaiti terror suspect repatriated from Philippines". Gulf News. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- "US Coalition Airstrike Killed Daesh Commander Abu Jandal Near Syria's Tabqa Dam". Sputnik News. 29 December 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
- "Death of Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti". CJTF–OIR. 29 December 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
- Sadredin Kino (27 December 2016). "ISIS commander of Raqqa killed in US airstrike". ARA News. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
- Kyle Orton (1 February 2017). "Analysis: 'Kuwaiti Islamic State Military Official Killed in Syria'". Henry Jackson Society. Archived from the original on 14 January 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
- "IS military leader killed in Syria airstrike, US says". The Times of Israel. 29 December 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
- Daniele Raineri (1 January 2017). "Abu Muhammad al Adnani named the battalion of Abu Jandal al Kuwaiti "the Rapid Response Battalion" كتيبة الرد السريع – explains many travels". Retrieved 9 February 2017.
- Daniele Raineri (1 January 2017). "Kuwaiti was deployed as a "troubleshooter" for Islamic State – here pictured during brutal campaign against Shaitat tribe in Deir Ezzor 2014". Retrieved 9 February 2017.
- Chad de Guzman (7 April 2017). "NBI presents alleged ISIS members nabbed in Taguig". CNN Philippines. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- Evelyn Macairan (16 April 2017). "Alleged Kuwaiti IS leader's wife to be deported — BI". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- Leith Fadel (29 December 2016). "High ranking ISIS leader killed in western Raqqa". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
- Tom Perry (27 December 2016). "U.S.-backed force in Syria advances towards IS-held dam". Reuters. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
- "US, Kuwait help capture 2 with IS ties in Philippines" (PDF). Manila: Kuwait Times. 7 April 2017. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- "Kuwait Gvnt Canceled The Passport Of Hussein Al-Dhufairi, Who Arrested In Philippines". Kuwait Local. 12 April 2017. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- "Al-Dhufairi arrest in Manila sparks raids in Kuwait – Shoot-to-kill orders in suspect sweep". Kuwait City: Arab Times. 8 April 2017. Retrieved 17 April 2017.