DAMASCUS, SYRIA (4:45 P.M.) – During a military operation against the Islamic State last month, Iraqi forces captured an infamous ISIS commander and executioner who had been filmed burning alive the Jordanian pilot Moaz Al-Kasasbeh in 2015.
Born and raised in the Syrian border city of Albu Kamal, Saddam Omar Hussein al-Jamal made a fortune out of smuggling cigarettes from Iraq between 1998-2010.
When the uprising broke out in several Syrian cities in March 2011, Saddam formed an insurgent group in Qoriyah town of Deir Ez-Zor countryside, Allahu Akbar Brigades, in which he was the leader of dozens of militants.
With his daring and merciless attacks against government troops and loyalists, Saddam gained the admiration of Abu Baker al-Baghdadi; the self-proclaimed Caliphate of the Salafist jihadist militant terrorist organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Al-Baghdadi sent him a special gift and huge amounts of money, asking him to join his group after giving him his nickname; Abu Ruqayah Al-Ansari.
“I’ve met al-Baghdadi once when he was moving in a big convoy of armored vehicles in Syria. The meeting was short as other commanders tried to keep me away, fearing he might privilege me and appoint me the second in command”, he said.
The disreputable Salafist commander attributed the invincible power of ISIS to the elite Chechen militants led by Abu Omar Al-Shishani.
“They were tough, highly-trained and merciless. And they spearheaded most of the big battles in Syria and Iraq’, he commented.
“As the heartland of the group, Iraq enjoyed more importance to ISIS than Syria. Most of the 1st rank leaders, including Al-Baghdadi himself, were Iraq-based”, he added.