Iraq: Are Senior ISIL Commanders already Defecting in Mosul & Tikrit?

By Mustafa Habib | Baghdad | via

Senior members of the Sunni Muslim extremist group, the Islamic State, have disappeared from Mosul and Tikrit. Sources suggest they defected for a number of reasons: they fear the end is nigh for their group, the threat posed by unhappy former allies who have already assassinated some of their number and because of promises of money and safety.

Last week was a tough week for the Sunni Muslim extremist group known as the Islamic State, or IS. It had incurred serious losses of manpower in strongholds in both Syria and Iraq.

Figures released by the Iraqi Ministries of Defence and the Interior suggest that the IS group lost around 400 fighters in Iraq and reports from Syria say as many as 500 IS fighters have been killed there, particularly around Kobani where there is fierce fighting but also in strongholds like Raqqa, where airstrikes by an international coalition are having an impact.

And it seems that some of the leaders in the IS group now feel that the writing is on the wall and that the IS group won’t be able to hold onto power for much longer.

Confidential information from inside Iraq military intelligence obtained by NIQASH says that several senior leaders in the IS group have disappeared from areas the group controls – most particularly from inside Mosul, the northern city the group considers it’s Iraqi capital, and from parts of the Salahaddin province.

NIQASH’s source inside Iraqi intelligence says that most of the IS group leaders who disappeared are field commanders, men responsible for administration of combatants and territorial sectors. Most of them are Iraqis too – they are not from among the IS group’s Arab or foreign fighters. And apparently the group of defectors also includes one Ali al-Hamadani, who is thought to be very close to the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as well as another senior leader whose name is unknown as yet but who was allegedly responsible for al-Baghdadi’s personal protection.

Asked as to why these senior members may have defected, the source told NIQASH that it was down to the success of local and foreign infiltration into the organisation. The senior members had been promised money and protection, their future safety guaranteed if they left the IS group and gave up information about the group’s plans and movements.

It is also thought that the senior leaders are leaving because they fear that the IS group will not last much longer in Iraq and that they might eventually be killed. If they are caught though, they will also be killed as the sentence for betraying the organisation, as decreed by its leader, al-Baghdadi, is also death.

There has also been a rumour that al-Baghdadi had been moving a large amount of money around, smuggling it out of Iraq and investing it with friendly businessmen in the Gulf States in order to ensure that the IS group has financial stability – in case, one imagines, they lose the money-making territory they currently control.

After rumours about the defection of these senior leaders began to circulate, the IS group held one of their traditional demonstrations of strength and power, organising a parade of vehicles and manpower through Mosul’s streets.

Locals say that other senior members of the IS group –including the group’s spokesperson, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, the IS-appointed governor of Mosul, Abu Bakr al-Khatouni, and the group’s military leader in Tal Afar, Abu Ala al-Afri – all returned from Syria to take over the posts left empty by the deserters.

After the IS group’s military parade ended, there was a wave of arrests in Mosul, during which many of the former police and military men still living in the city, who had repented for their past jobs, were taken away. They are apparently now being held in former government buildings that the IS group uses as prisons there.

One of the other reasons for the defections are the ongoing threats presented by armed groups inside Mosul, says Zakaria al-Hattab, who leads one of the anti-IS group militias working inside the city. There have been a number of IS members assassinated by unknown assailants in the city.

“Armed factions in Mosul are not yet able to confront the IS group openly,” says al-Hattab, who is currently in Erbil in the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. But, al-Hattab, adds, he and a group of others are forming militias to try and do exactly that.

The majority of the IS leaders responsible for Mosul’s security and services are Iraqis and possibly also longer-term residents of the city. “Everybody knows them and everybody hates them,” al-Hattab explained to NIQASH. “And the tribal leaders in Mosul who are against the IS group have already made threats against the group’s senior members, saying they will chase them out of the city and kill them once IS is defeated. That’s what has scared these men and they’ve decided to leave before it’s too late.”

“The IS group leaders who defected left because they realized that the whole world was waging war against them,” suggests Rashid al-Samarrai, a local security expert. “They also know that the international coalition is going to benefit hugely from information they’re gleaning on the IS group’s plans and its hiding places.”

Additionally, al-Samarrai says, a lot of the most recent recruits to the IS group in Iraq are locals and former members of Saddam Hussein’s army and intelligence services. Many of them undertook religious training only after, or shortly before, they joined the IS group.

“Senior leaders in the IS group are military personnel who have been trained in warfare,” al-Samarrai says. “They only embraced radical religious thinking a few years ago and their belief in this system is actually fairly weak when compared to the core membership of the IS group, who have embraced radical religious ideas since they were young. The latter group would find it much harder to betray the organisation because they truly believe in it.”

Mirrored from”


Related video added by Juan Cole:

CNN: “Deal lets 200 join fight against ISIS

14 Responses

  1. Infiltration should be fairly easy for intelligence services since IS apparently lets any yahoo join who can recite some lines from the Qur’an and is willing to swear fealty.

  2. ISIS disgusts the entire world.
    Even Assad knows enough not publicize his regime’s mass rape (with few limits) in his hellhole Security Centers, to fill the MASS GRAVES with no photos released.
    Russian influence is claimed as a reason for the meticulous documentation of thousands of men tortured and murdered before the trip to the mass graves.

  3. Gee, could it be that the dynamic of pursuit of self- interest that is endemic with the species and particularly in Byzantium and bazaar- land is just showing a little around the margins? I imagine the Caliph is maybe a little surprised at his success, like a vulture capitalist who is amazed at how easy it was to steal assets and bankrupt the firm after looting the pension accounts. What I read about the sociopolitics of afghpakistan indicates that shifting loyalties, so called, are all part of the mix, which our sneaky petes are happy to use and encourage. While selling the idiot fraud that this is a cowboys vs Indians drama. Well, the cowboys part seems right at least. …

  4. American bombs convinced ’em to defect ASAP. ISIS is destabilizing large parts of the Middle East and become too big of a problem. We’ll keep bombing ISIS until they no longer have so much muscle or revenue.

    • AMERICAN bombs did that? Really? Is there some source, other than exceptional muscular chest thumping, for the assertion? Granted, our Imperial military is greatly self-impressed with a certain ability to ” put warheads on foreheads”, link to Seems to me the rational consensus is that air power can’t do it all…

      • An article in today’s Guardian says ISIS leaders are threatening to kill about 30 British jihadists who want to return to the UK. They’re tired of playing jihad. That’s a bad sign for ISIS.

        ISIS may have made a HUGE blunder in Kobani. Committing too many assets in Kobani may have left ISIS in a vulnerable situation and given us a chance to really damage them. Momentum is CRUCIAL to recruitment, strategy and long term success. Losing in Kobani could have a much bigger effect than just losing one battle. They depend on the BIG MO.

        This isn’t chest thumping. If we get a chance to roll ’em, the military would be foolish not to press it. A big blow now will be well worth it in the long run.


        Does “” have any T-shits featuring Slim Pickens riding the bomb down on them Rooskies?

        • Once again, evidence that “warheads on foreheads” as a policy has or will result in degradation etc. of ISISILIQ as the latest in Horde phenomenons, any more than it has anywhere else? Mechanistic faith in the power of “smart weapons” to effect social change seems sadly misplaced, as, e.g., US/”Coalition” Forces decamp from field roles in Notagainistan, link to Even with “boots on the ground,” our Vaunted World’s Greatest Military shows time and again that the generals in their well-padded bubbles do not have a clue about how to “win wars,” or any interest in the kinds of tools and behaviors that might avoid or end profitable conflicts, despite the incredible arrogance of the whole chain of command, from Obama on down:

          President Obama: Steve, that’s always the case. That’s always the case. America leads. We are the indispensable nation. We have capacity no one else has. Our military is the best in the history of the world. And when trouble comes up anywhere in the world, they don’t call Beijing. They don’t call Moscow. They call us…. That’s the deal.

          Steve Kroft: I mean, it looks like we are doing 90 percent.

          President Obama: Steve, when as issue … when there’s a typhoon in the Philippines, take a look at who’s helping the Philippines deal with that situation. When there’s an earthquake in Haiti, take a look at who’s leading the charge and making sure Haiti can rebuild. That’s how we roll. And that’s what makes this America. ” link to Speaking of faux statements and delusions.

          Given the INSANITY OF DUMPING AND BURNING trillions of dollars, spent on creating the conditions for an ISISILIQ to thrive, and then convincing us working stiffs to pony up for trillions more to “degrade and diminish” the result, maybe the ALL CAPS SHOUTED phrase might more wisely be “WE SHOULD BE INVOLUNTARILY COMMITTED…” As to t-shirts relating to other insanities like MAD and First Strike, you can shop for one here: link to, and for more illustrations of what goes on in our collective id, shop here: link to

        • I’m not an Obama supporter. I’ve been 100% against all of these STUPID wars on terror we have fought since 9/11 including the war in Iraq, Obama’s “war of necessity in Afghanistan” and in Libya. I think Obama, his administration and almost all of the Republicans ARE FULL OF SHIT. I think Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald should share the Noble Peace Prize and have airports named after them. I also believe regime changing a Sunni ruler in Iraq set off a chain in events leading to Sunni extremists groups like ISIS.

          I hope I’m being clear.

          Having said that, I also believe it’s wise military policy to degrade ISIS now and break up their momentum. That will make it much easier to roll them back in Iraq and Syria. Their slick online use of social media radicalizing young males in Europe and England will end. Spending millions and millions now will keep our war mongering politicians from wasting billions and billions later.

          The American public has already been INVOLUNTARILY COMMITTED. It’s not “should be,” future tense ” It’s “has been” past tense.

        • Thank you Jack. It’s really Military 101. IS have way over extended themselves and it’s the perfect situation to just let them have it, to get them bogged down in a vicious, violent and demoralizing slog. Their cynical, criminal leaders, who apparently are not so smart, are throwing the idiotic, deluded cannon fodder at Kobani, and now it’s starting to take its toll. Defections, turning on each other, defiant shows of force, moving the money to secret hiding places..yeah, the writing is on the wall for these goons.

          And yes, JT, military force sometimes does create the desired outcome. Not always, but sometimes.

        • Does anyone know how big the IS cadre really is? Their assets, military and fiscal? And most of their troops and leaders do in fact seem to be patriarchal brutal critters of the worst ugly kind. As to being over-extended, and the possibility of military success against the creature, is what “we” are doing both necessary and sufficient to cure the disease of patriarchal “conservative” religion-excused horror? Or will this maybe be kind of like what happens when somebody stops taking antibiotics because they are feeling better, and ends up with a much worse bug?

          The “over-extended” meme googles up articles like this, link to (old news from August) and this, link to, from June. It’s almost Christmas. ?Wonder what will be under the tree… And of course the combat and slaughter go on in what used to be Syria, and Afghanistan, and Yemen and Somalia and etc. What’s the trick for bringing all that under control, if that is any part of the Game?

          Sorry to be so negative about military action by our World’s Best Greatest Military. The track record leaves some significant reasons for skepticism, and it sure seems like making more chaos and violence is the intended or casual effect of its ruling class…

        • You’re welcome Ted. The ISIS Stalingrad was how someone else put it. Like the Nazis, ISIS over extended themselves and now they’re trapped.

          ISIS has made a terrible, perhaps even a fatal blunder.

          Earlier today, I was reading a Guardian article about six young Muslims from Portsmouth, England that had gone to Syria to fight with ISIS. There was even a picture of them in the airport waiting to leave. They nicknamed themselves the “Portsmouth Lads.” Of the six, four of them are now dead, two died in Kobani. One returned and is in jail. The last one is still alive in Syria. All of them were under 25 and got radicalized by watching ISIS videos in England.

          Crazy stuff like that will stop after Kobani is over.

  5. JTMcPhee, anytime U.S. politicians start talking up war a very healthy dose of skepticism is warranted. Lets hope the ISIS gangster horde has blundered into a catastrophe in Kobani. If that is the case, U.S. war mongering politicians won’t be able to start a MUCH bigger war and send the army back to the Middle East.

    • Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga are on the way to Kobani as we speak, Jack. The Kurds of Iraq and Syria seem to be uniting, and the Americans are discovering that we actually do have legitimate allies there with like minded ideals(the Kurds). The Daesh barbarians seem to be going all-in in Kobani, which is good. Yes, they’ll have some spectacular successes as they begin to throw hail mary passes of outrageousness. But proper military planning means a good long painful dogfight and Kobani is just the place to implement it. Stay tuned….

  6. “We are defending a democratic, secular society of Kurds, Arabs, Muslims and Christians who all face an imminent massacre.”

    A quote from a woman commander of the resistance in Kobani, in article she wrote, published in today’s New York Times. If Americans can’t get behind this, then we’re a lost cause…
    link to

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