Abu Ayyub al-Masri: Wikis


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Abu Ayyub al-Masri (Father of Ayyub the Egyptian)
Born 1967 –
Place of birth Egypt
Allegiance Al-Qaeda in Iraq
Battles/wars War in Afghanistan
Iraq War

Abu Ayyub al-Masri (أبو أيّوب المصري, Abū Ayyūb al-Maṣrī) also known as[1][2] Abu Hamza al-Muhajir (أبو حمزة المهاجر) [3] (b. ~1968, Egypt)[4] was a senior aide to the former leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. When Zarqawui was killed in a U.S. airstrike on 7 June 2006, U.S. Pentagon sources identified him as among the prime candidates to assume direction of the Iraqi insurgency.[5]

The Mujahideen Shura Council, which claims to speak for Tenzheem Qa'adah al-Jihad and other groups in Iraq, named Abu Hamza al-Muhajir [6]) as its new emir in June 2006. However, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said, “It’s not clear at this point who is in (control). We’ve seen a number of different reports… In our view it’s not yet settled.”

He is also a trained explosives expert.


Joined militant jihad groups

He joined the Muslim Brotherhood.[7] and in 1982 he joined Egyptian Islamic Jihad. He went to Afghanistan in 1999, where he became an explosives expert.

According to General Caldwell[8], Masri joined Ayman al-Zawahiri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad in 1982, where he was Zawahiri’s protégé. He went to bin Laden’s al-Farouk camp in Afghanistan in 1999, where he worked with explosives, especially truck bombs and roadside bombs like those currently used in Iraq.

Moved to Iraq

After the American invasion of Afghanistan, he went to Iraq, where he took charge of al-Qaeda’s operations in the southern part of the country.[9][10] The United States military said that Masri "helped draw other insurgent groups into al-Qaeda’s fold."[10] DefenseLINK News reported that Masri "helped establish the Baghdad cell of al-Qaeda in early 2003". Soon after, he "worked the ‘rat line’ down the Euphrates River Valley supplying suicide bombers via Syria."[11][12]

Masri participated in the major 2004 battle of Fallujah,[13] Zarqawi, a Sunni Muslim, often attacked the Shiite Muslim population of Iraq, possibly against his leaders’ wishes.

A claim posted on an Islamic website said that Abu Hamza al-Muhajir personally killed two U.S. Army soldiers who disappeared after an ambush in Iraq on 16 June 2006, as a means of "making his presence felt." Their bodies were later found mutilated and booby-trapped in Yusufiya, Iraq on 19 June 2006. However Rita Katz, the head of SITE Institute, said she believed that message was a fake.[14][15][16]

On 20 September 2006 Abu Hamza al-Muhajir claimed responsibility for personally killing Turkish hostage Murat Yuce in a video that was first released in August 2004.[17] Murat Yuce was killed with three gunshot wounds to the head in a video released on the internet. He was kidnapped in late July 2004 along with a co-worker named Aytullah Gezmen. Aytullah Gezmen was released in September 2004 after "repenting" working for the Americans.[18][19]

Wanted man

Under the name Abu Ayyub al-Masri, he has been wanted by Coalition and Iraqi authorities since 2005 or possibly earlier.[20] Washington Post wrote,[21] "Officials in Washington said Masri is also known -- and equally unknown -- by the name Yusif al-Dardiri [ يوسف الدرديري ]". Montasser el-Zayat reportedly agrees that Abu Ayyub's real name is Yusif al-Dardiri.[22]

According to the Associated Press, the Bush administration posted a $200,000 bounty on Masri even before Zarqawi’s death.[23] The reward was later raised to up to $5 million before being reduced to $100,000 in 2008. The reduction of reward money knocked al-Masri off the U.S. State Department "Rewards for Justice" program list and placed him on a Department of Defense list for people with lower bounties[2][2]

Erroneous report of death

On 3 October 2006, "Abu Hamza al-Muhajir" was erroneously[24] believed to have been killed during a US raid in Haditha[25]. As of 3 May, it appears that the person killed was actually Muharib Abdul-Latif al-Jabouri, a senior member of Al-Qaida in Iraq and the "public relations minister" of al-Baghdadi's shadow cabinet.

Pseudonym validity questioned

'Muhajir' is thought to be a pseudonym.[26] After the death of al-Zarqawi, an American military spokesperson identified him as the most likely to succeed al-Zarqawi. On 6 July 2006 an Egyptian newspaper indicated that Mamduh Ismail, an Egyptian lawyer, reported that Sharif Hazaa, or Abu Ayyub al-Masri, has been in a Cairo prison for the past seven years.[27] The lawyer was later arrested. [3] According to the Washington Post some unidentified American and Jordanian officials claim that al-Masri has another alias of Yusuf al-Dardiri. [21]

Muhajir means "immigrant", "emigrant" or "exile" in Arabic, and is often used to refer to the group of the Prophet Muhammad and his followers who fled to Medina (the Hijra). This may indicate that he is not from Iraq[28], but rather imply a person who was an "exile" in his own land, as per the original meaning of muhajir. In recent weeks Zarqawi's group has tried to establish a more "local" profile in an attempt to appeal to potential Iraqi recruits, and the name "Muhajir" may alternatively indicate an Iraqi Sunni Muslim who opposed Saddam Hussein. It is known that several radical Sunnis native to Iraq - among them several individuals who were close to Zarqawi and initially believed likely candidates for successorship - were influenced by the former leader's 1990s campaign of re-Islamization which was initially hailed by Islamist circles (the prime motivation for the secular regime was to make itself more appealing to religiously motivated Iraqis and other Arabs) but dismissed as a sham later.[29]


  1. ^ Wanted Poster on al-Masri, in Arabic. US Department of State.
  2. ^ a b Wanted Poster on al-Masri, in English. US Department of State.
  3. ^ Translation: Father of Hamza [the eldest] the immigrant
  4. ^ Terror expert fleshes out Masri links. UPI. 19 June 2006.
  5. ^ Jay Solomon, "Jordan Emerges as a Vital U.S. Ally", WSJ 10 June 2006
  6. ^ "Confusion swirls over Zarqawi successor". United Press International (UPI). 20 June 2006. http://www.upi.com/search_result.php?archive=1&StoryID=20060619-122746-7971r.  
  7. ^ Garamone, Jim. Masri American Forces Press Service. 16 June 2006.
  8. ^ c
  9. ^ Confusion swirls over Zarqawi successor, UPI, 20 June 2006
  10. ^ a b U.S. Profiles Iraq’s new terror chief, Baltimore Sun, 16 June 2006.
  11. ^ Picture of a weakened Iraq insurgency, Christian Science Monitor, 16 June 2006
  12. ^ Al-Zarqawi’s death opens new windows into al-Qaeda network, AP, 18 June 2006
  13. ^ CNN.com - U.S. soldiers' bodies mutilated, booby-trapped - Jun 20, 2006
  14. ^ The Scotsman
  15. ^ U.S. Air Force AIM Points: U.S. says two bodies retrieved in Iraq were brutalized
  16. ^ Video of Turkish Hostage Allegedly Executed by Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, SITE, 25 September 2006
  17. ^ [1]
  18. ^ Hostage on the way home after 52 days in captivity Turkey sending aid to Tal Afar in next few days Turkey sends aid to Sudan Greek-Turkish architecture - Turkish Daily News Sep 16, 2004
  19. ^ Abu Ayyub al-Masri at GlobalSecurity.org
  20. ^ a b Egyptian seen replacing Zarqawi, Washington Post Foreign Service, 16 June 2006
  21. ^ Aljazeera airs al-Baghdadi audiotape, Al Jazeera, 20 June 2006
  22. ^ Al-Zarqawi’s successor: A new face at the top of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Associated Press 16 June 2006.
  23. ^ SITE Institute: Islamic State of Iraq Announces Establishment of the Cabinet of its First Islamic Administration in Video Issued Through al-Furqan Foundation. Version of 2007-APR-19. Retrieved 2007-APR-20.
  24. ^ "Iraqis test dead militant's DNA". BBC. 5 October 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/5408924.stm.  
  25. ^ Al-Qaeda in Iraq names new head, BBC News, 12 June 2006.
  26. ^ Zarqawi successor 'in Egypt jail' Aljazeera, July 06 2006
  27. ^ Militant Chosen to Succeed al-Zarqawi, SFgate.com, 12 June 2006.
  28. ^ Who will succeed al-Zarqawi?, Newsday.com, 9 June 2006


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