Thursday, July 03, 2014

abu omar al-shishani


nationalpost |  A young, red-bearded ethnic Chechen has rapidly become one of the most prominent commanders in the breakaway Al-Qaeda group that has overrun swaths of Iraq and Syria, illustrating the international nature of the movement.

Omar Al-Shishani, one of hundreds of Chechens who have been among the toughest jihadi fighters in Syria, has emerged as the face of the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), appearing frequently in its online videos — in contrast to the group’s Iraqi leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who remains deep in hiding and has hardly ever been photographed.

In a video released by the group over the weekend, Mr. Al-Shishani is shown standing next to the group’s spokesman among a group of fighters as they declare the elimination of the border between Iraq and Syria. The video was released just hours before the extremist group announced the creation of a caliphate — or Islamic state — in the areas it controls.

“Our aim is clear and everyone knows why we are fighting. Our path is toward the caliphate,” the 28-year-old Mr. Al-Shishani declares. “We will bring back the caliphate, and if God does not make it our fate to restore the caliphate, then we ask him to grant us martyrdom.”