The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.
On March 15, 2023, an anti-Islamic State (ISIS) channel on the Al-Qaeda-operated Rocket.Chat server published a post questioning the leadership decisions made by ISIS following a string of high-profile losses, and arguing that the group is struggling to find replacements for its slain leaders.
Titled "The Game of Masks," the post noted that ISIS was forced to make leadership changes after it suffered the loss of its Emir of Distant Provinces, Fayez Al-'Akkal, a.k.a. Abu Abdulrahman.
Following Al-'Akkal's death, the group's "Authorized Committee issued in June 2021 a statement mourning the loss of the slain leader and announcing the appointment of Abd Rauf Al-Muhajir in his stead," said the post.
MEMRI JTTM's research shows that reports claimed that Abd Rauf Al-Muhajir, a.k.a. Abu Sarah Al-Iraqi, was killed in a Coalition airstrike near the Turkish-Syrian border on February 24, 2023.
Series Of Losses
After corroborating that Al-Iraqi was killed, the post asked: "This raises a question: following the loss of virtually all of the major leaders of ISIS, who will succeed Abu Sarah Al-Iraqi as the new Emir of General Administration of the Provinces? Before answering this question, it is necessary to determine who is authorized to appoint the new emir."
The post then raised the question of the makeup of the committees tasked with making decisions within the jihadi outfit and their potential overlap. It said: "What we know about the Authorized Committee at that time is that its members were themselves members of the Administration of Distant Provinces, while some were also members of the Advisory Council."
"If the answer is the Authorized Committee, then we can almost say that the committee and its membership are a spineless entity, no different than the membership of the Office of General Affairs, whose Emir has the first and last word in decisions and organization overall," it said.
That Emir, noted the post, was the slain Abu Sarah Al-Iraqi.
Illusions Of Power
Such efforts to prop up the flagging organization's structure are not accidental, according to the post: "These spineless entities are employed to show that the bureaucratic structures of ISIS are still functioning, and that the organization is still doing well."
A closer review, however, shows that the Advisory Council and Authorized Committee both revolve around the Emir of General Administration of Provinces, argued the author, continuing: "What changes are its names, titles and masks."
The post then returned to the question at hand: who will succeed Abu Sarah Al-Iraqi? Any attempt to answer this question is almost irrelevant, it stated: "This is a question that we will not be able to answer. But eventually there will be no more leaders of offices outside Syria, and they will have no opinion on the appointment of the new Emir, because their authority does not extend beyond offering congratulations, blessings, listening and obedience."
The full text of this post is available to subscribers.
Please login or register to request subscription information from MEMRI