It is important for a historian to revise his understanding of events when he obtains new evidence that does not fit with his prior interpretation. In my case, I present a revised understanding of the rulings issued against multiple individuals in Islamic State affiliate Jaysh Khalid bin al-Waleed (JKBW) in relation to the assassination of JKBW's first amir Abu Hashim al-Idlibi.
My prior understanding, based on a document that emerged in late April 2018, was that JKBW's court under Abu Ali Saraya had carried out the 'verification' processes with the suspects in the assassination case- among them individuals like Abu Obeida Qahtan and Nidhal al-Baridi- and then based on their confessions obtained under torture, the court carried out the executions of those suspects by summer 2017. Doubts about those proceedings and Abu Ali Saraya, I argued, were then referred to the Islamic State, whose 'general court' then issued that document in late April 2018.
Thanks to new evidence supplied to me by a former leading figure in JKBW's security apparatus, I can now revise my somewhat erroneous interpretation. The JKBW court indeed carried out 'verification' processes based on confessions obtained under torture, but then actually referred its rulings to the Islamic State's Damascus province governor (the wali of Wilayat Dimashq), who then certified the rulings, as shown by an internal document I have obtained from my source that will be featured and translated below.
The turning point for reviewing the case actually came with the arrival of an individual in early 2018 who became the wali of Wilayat Hawran and thus was the highest authority in the Yarmouk Basin area rather than the general amir of JKBW. To be sure, the publicising of a 'Wilayat Hawran' came only in the final days of JKBW's existence as an entity controlling territory, but the reality is that there was a wali of Wilayat Hawran well before it was publicised. This individual was known by multiple kunyas: Abu Ibrahim al-Shami, Abu Omar al-Ghareeb, al-Muhajir al-Ghareeb and Abu Ali al-Safadi. His real name was Ahmad al-Safadi, originally from the Deraa town of Sheikh Maskeen. Once in Syria's al-Qa'ida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, he defected and went north and gave allegiance to the Islamic State. He was killed once the Syrian army and its allies took over the Yarmouk Basin village of al-Qusayr, ending JKBW's existence as an entity controlling territory.
It was the wali of Wilayat Hawran who ordered for a review of the rulings issued against those executed for the assassination of Abu Hashim al-Idlibi. He ordered the review partly because of the internal strife that had emerged as a result of the rulings. Thus a review was carried out by the head of the JKBW court who had replaced Abu Ali Saraya (the Saudi known as Abu Abdullah al-Jazrawi). He then issued the publicised exoneration of Nidhal al-Baridi, Abu Obeida Qahtan and others. In this context, it should thus be pointed out that the 'general court' referred to in the April 2018 document is JKBW's court. The Islamic State stamp and label featured in the document simply reflect the fact that in its final months JKBW began using the Islamic State label and stamps in internal documents. Interestingly, there is no difference between the 'general court' and 'Islamic court': the former is simply a later designation that was used within the Islamic State for the 'Islamic court.'
As for Abu Ali Saraya, it was ultimately decided to execute him on the basis of qisas (retaliation) for his unjust and erroneous rulings. He was killed just before the fall of Nafi'a to the Syrian army and its allies.
Below is the exclusive document from the wali of Damascus verifying the original executions that were carried out by JKBW.
No. m 7-8-1547
Date: 6 Ramadan 1438 AH corresponding to 1 June 2017 CE.
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
To the brother the amir of the Yarmouk Basin area- may God help him.
As-salam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuhu.
Praise be to God the Lord of the Worlds and God's peace and blessings be upon the seal of the Prophets. As for what follows:
After referral of the case of the killing of Abu Hashim- may God have mercy on him- in the Yarmouk Basin, it has been certified, according to what has been referred to us, to:
. Declare the innocence of:
1. Abdullah Ya'arab al-Hajj Dawoud.
2. Abd al-Rahman al-Masri.
And that is for lack of sufficient evidence and their denial and thus they are to be compensated for the time in prison and they are to be reminded of God and the outcome of patience and reckoning to preserve the group.
. To implement execution for apostasy in view of the evidence found against them and confiscate their wealth for the Bayt al-Mal against all of the following:
1. Nasir Suleiman Qasim
2. Nidhal Sa'ad al-Din al-Baridi
3. Nadir Jad'an al-Qaseem
4. Qahtan Ya'arab al-Hajj Dawoud
5. Isam Khalid al-Salih
6. Khalid Jamal al-Baridi.
We ask God to help us and you in obedience to Him/
Abd al-Hayy al-Muhajir
[In writing]: 6 Ramadan 1438 AH