Two weeks ago the Islamic State's al-Naba' newsletter published part one of its biography of Abu Muhammad al-Furqan, who headed the media department of the Islamic State. This week's issue features part two that I have translated in full for this post. In short, part two deals with al-Furqan's activities from the time of the announcement of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham in April 2013 until his death in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike on the city of al-Raqqa, dated to 1 Dhu al-Hijja 1437 AH (c. 3 September 2016 CE). It is actually notable that given the date of his death according to his biography, there was a gap of more than a month between his death and the official announcement of it by the Islamic State's media.
The main highlights of part two of the biography in my view are as follows:
. A meeting held between al-Furqan and Islamic State official spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani in Hureitan in west Aleppo countryside in January 2014 as the infighting between the Islamic State (then called the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham) and the Syrian rebel groups had begun, in order to prepare for Adnani's speech that was released on the infighting (among other topics).
. Military commanders of importance in the infighting in Syria in the first half of 2014: Abu Omar al-Shishani, Abu Yahya al-Iraqi, Abu al-Athir al-Shami and Abu Aymenn al-Iraqi.
. al-Furqan's membership of the Islamic State's Shura council and the Delegated Committee in addition to heading the media department.
. al-Furqan's management of relations between Islamic State central (i.e. in Iraq and Syria) and the affiliates outside Iraq and Syria after the announcement of the Caliphate. This part of the biography says that al-Furqan used the name 'Abu Obeida Abd al-Hakim' in corresponding with external affiliates. I first remember this name appearing amid documents that were leaked concerning dissent in the Islamic State's Yemen affiliates in late 2015, as a letter attributed to 'Abu Obeida Abd al-Hakim' emerged in which he rebuked those who rejected the overall wali (governor) over the Yemeni provinces appointed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
. al-Furqan's oversight of Islamic State cells conducting operations in Europe, Turkey and other territories of the Islamic State's opponents. We also have a confirmation in this part of the biography that the portfolio had previously been managed by Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, who then became amir for the Delegated Committee in administering the Islamic State's Syrian provinces (the wilayas of al-Sham) following the death of Abu al-Harith al-Ansari.
The most notable gap, in contrast, is the lack of explicit mention of any role by al-Furqan in managing the internal ideological disputes that arose within the Islamic State in this period. However, arguably it is implied when this part of the biography mentions al-Furqan's constant involvement in meetings to deal with internal concerns of the diwans (departments) and wilayas (provinces).
Below is part two of the biography translated. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Story of a martyr
al-Naba' number 287
Thursday 8 Shawwal 1442 AH
The mujahid Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Furqan (may God Almighty accept him). Leader of the media battle and murabit on the frontlines of creed (part two).
In the time in which Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Furqan was preparing to publish the latest of the issues that his right hand had created in Iraq- namely, Salil al-Sawarim 3 in its first and second copies, the events in al-Sham were proceeding rapidly and taking a complicated turn with the discovery of the latest yarns of the conspiracy of al-Jowlani and al-Zawahiri! Also the Amir al-Mu'mineen Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (may God Almighty accept him) was hastening to cut the path on them through announcing the affiliation of Jabhat al-Nusra to the Islamic State of Iraq.
So Sheikh Abu Muhammad was summoned to al-Sham hurriedly, and he said goodbye to his family who expected that his absence would be for a limited number of days only, and he proceeded crossing the borders accompanied by Sheikh Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Baylawi (may God Almighty accept him) to join the rest of the members of the Shura Council of the Islamic State that was convened almost constantly to discuss the issue of the announcement of the presence of detachments of the Islamic State in al-Sham, and cancel the name of Jabhat al-Nusra that they had taken as a cover for their work for more than a year. So there was the speech of Sheikh Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, which was the beginning of a new stage of the stages of the age of the Islamic State, as the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham was announced, and the mujahideen were called to renew the allegiance pledge to the Amir al-Mu'mineen, and the media battle began to take on a new dimension in what God granted His servants from grace in al-Sham, and what He blessed them from capabilities, and the new events and incidents that occurred.
A media policy accompanying the expansion to al-Sham
So the release of Salil al-Sawarim 4- the publication of which the observers had to wait for a long time- was the first of the changes of the new media policy of the Islamic State, as it was no longer possible to limit the military operations in Iraq, while the soldiers of the Islamic State were fighting in various areas of al-Sham, and it was no longer acceptable for the releases to be confined to showing the attacks and assaults of the mujahideen only, amid the Islamic State's effort to spread Tawheed and incite the muhajireen to migrate and fight.
The first months of the age of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham were loaded with effort and events. While the two sheikhs Abu Ali al-Anbari and Abu Mu'atazz al-Qurashi went around the areas of al-Sham, primarily in a successful da'wa tour through which God Almighty enabled them to make most of the soldiers of the Islamic State steadfast on pledging allegiance to the Amir al-Mu'mineen; Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Furqan was concerned with establishing a new structure for the media of the Islamic State on the land of al-Sham, after he left his previous brothers behind him in Iraq, for he began recruiting media cadres, and looking for them in the camps and the ribat frontlines, and gathering the necessary materials for media work. And as was his custom, he did not care for the scarce number of workers, and he did not delay work until he could secure them, but rather he began by himself anew, and he was not impeded by the fact that he was a member in the Shura Council of the Islamic State and the Delegated Committee of the Amir al-Mu'mineen, from going out by himself carrying his camera to take photos, then returning to make clips of films, and bring out the releases that began growing and improving more with the inclusion of more of the brothers on the work team, and their taking from his shoulder some of the burdens.
And there appeared a new visual series of releases realising the new media arms, for there was 'Windows on the land of Epic Battles' and 'Messages from the Land of Epic Battles' and 'Photos from the Land of Epic Battles,' and there was the continual repetition of the phrase: 'A Book Guides And A Sword Gives Victory'- indicating the connection between da'wa to Tawheed and jihad in the path of God Almighty And there was the continual repetition of the saying of Sheikh Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi (may God accept him): 'And here is the spark that has been lit in Iraq, and the kindling of its fire will grow by the permission of God, until it burns the Crusader armies in Dabiq'- confirming the continuation of the project that the first mujahideen began in Iraq, and its expansion into al-Sham, and out of desire for it to continue until the occurrence of the great epic battle with the Crusaders on its soil.
Making clear the project of the Islamic State
The greatest focus of Sheikh Abu Muhammad was on clarifying the truth of the Islamic State to the people, and making clear that it was not merely a fighting group that seeks to inflict damage on the enemy and take revenge against them for their crimes against the Muslims only, but rather that it was the true nucleus of establishing the Caliphate. And likewise he focused on refuting the many doubts that the evil 'ulama and the parties of error and apostasy stirred up, and inciting the Muslims to migrate to the land of al-Sham to strengthen the ranks of the Islamic State, and pave the ways to realise tamkin ['enablement/true territorial control'] and the establishment of the religion.
The sheikh continually strove and worked through night and day, for with his bearing of the responsibility of amirship of the Diwan al-'Ilam, the sheikh was a member of the Shura Council of the Islamic State, and one of those delegated by the Amir al-Mu'mineen to supervise the sectors of the Islamic State and its wilayas in al-Sham, with Sheikh Abu Ali al-Anbari, Sheikh Abu Bakr al-Iraqi and Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani (may God accept them all), and others we ask God to protect, make steadfast and benefit through them.
And amid this great effort and rapid succession of events, the sheikh was preoccupied even away from his family whom he left in Mosul, for he did not visit them until the borders between Iraq and al-Sham were broken around 14 months after he said goodbye to them, but rather he was because of the intensity of his preoccupation not speaking to them to check up on them except on months separated apart from each other, without their knowing his place naturally, or asking about that.
Resisting the fitna of the Sahwa forces of apostasy
The Sahwa forces came out in west Aleppo countryside and their first signs began to appear in other areas of the wilaya, so Sheikh Abu Muhammad took the initiative in withdrawing all the brothers working with him and their families outside of these areas, and as soon as he had secure them, he returned to enter the areas that the Sahwa forces were besieging, infiltrating among their checkpoints, in order to meet Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani (may God accept him) in the areas of Hureitan, and so that the media war against the Sahwa forces should begin with the release of a speech by Sheikh al-Adnani, in which he exposed the Sahwa forces of apostasy and their deeds, and threatened them with the severe punishment for their treachery if they did not desist from the mujahideen, and through which he made steadfast the soldiers of the Islamic State. It was followed by another speech by the Amir al-Mu'mineen, in which he offered repentance to the soldiers of the Sahwa forces, and tried to scare them by God Almighty from the path of apostasy on which they were proceeding, but that only made them more arrogant, stubborn and treacherous against the mujahideen, and more insistent on implementing the American plan drawn up for them.
So when the mujahideen found that the knives of treachery had grown numerous against them, and there was no longer a safe haven for them in the regions controlled by the Sahwa forces, God granted success to the brothers in the Shura Council of the Islamic State to make a binding decision on all the soldiers to withdraw from Idlib, the Sahel [Latakia] and west Aleppo countryside towards the areas over which the Islamic State had imposed its control in the wilayas of Aleppo, al-Raqqa and al-Baraka [Hasakah], and those were the first stages of true tamkin, and this decision was a divine gift that disappeared in the folds of the tribulation of the Sahwa forces that the apostates and hypocrites thought would break the back of the Islamic State forever.
Victory in the media war
The battles of the Sahwa forces had not yet been decisively resolved, but they brought out a new bounty in the exposure of the loyalty of the apostates of the al-Qa'ida organisation in al-Sham to their brothers from the Sahwa forces of America, for after they tried to appear as advisors in Aleppo and Idlib, in order to manage through that to distort the reputation of the Islamic State, and make its soldiers abandon fighting the Sahwa forces, they found it inevitable to participate with the apostates in their fight against the Islamic State, after the failure of the project of the Sahwa forces in the eastern region. And Sheikh Abu Muhammad was leading in this important stage a campaign no less important than the military campaigns that were led by Abu Omar al-Shishani, Abu Yahya al-Iraqi, Abu al-Athir al-Shami and Abu Aymenn al-Iraqi (may God Almighty accept them) against the headquarters of the Sahwa forces in the wilayas of al-Khayr, Aleppo and the badiya: namely, the media campaign hat succeeded by the grace of God in breaking the great media attack that the apostate Sahwa forces led against the Islamic State to attack its creed and manhaj and sully its reputation through the blemish of the Khawarij, and turn away the Muslims from pledging allegiance to it and migrating to it and waging jihad under its banner. In that attack they were assisted by a great army of the preachers of error and the 'ulama of the Tawagheet, for whom the pulpits were raised, and for whom the channels were opened, and for whom the sites and pages were prepared. So the media of the Islamic State managed to defeat them all by the grace of God alone, for it exposed their lies, and exposed the stupidity of the dreams of their commanders and leaders, and its messages reached (in defiance of the Tawagheet and the Crusaders) the Muslims around the world, so they came as groups and individuals to live under the banner of Tawheed that they saw through the media of the Islamic State fluttering high in the sky of al-Raqqa, Aleppo and other wilayas of al-Sham.
Spreading Tawheed among the people
The sheikh realised that tamkin is a bounty for which God Almighty should be thanked, through obedience to Him and compliance with His commands, so he was very much encouraging his soldiers in the media offices to exploit all the capabilities they had to spread Tawheed among the people, and that was through printing books and pamphlets and hanging up posters and wall banners, and spreading the recordings and releases. Also he worked on exploiting this bounty as far as possible so work began on opening a da'wa broadcast as a replacement for the Jahili broadcasts that were banned in the areas of the Islamic State. So work occurred to make active the work of the media offices in the wilayas to undertake a great role under the administration and supervision of the central media apparatus, in addition to activating the teams of the foreign languages to address the Muslims in their various languages. So there appeared al-Hayat foundation dedicated to this objective, and under its framework there grew the magazines speaking in the foreign languages, at the head of which was the blessed magazine of Dabiq, whose knight was Sheikh Abu Suleiman al-Shami (may God accept him).
Sheikh Abu Muhammad at the time had received the amirship of the Diwan al-'Ilam, in addition to his membership in the Shura Council, and the Delegated Committee for the Amir al-Mu'mineen, in the framework of the new administration system of the Islamic State. And the pillar of his media policy in that stage was to expose the apostasy of the Sahwa forces, expose the error of the al-Qa'ida organisation, show the reality of the Islamic State amid tamkin, and call on the Muslims to migrate to the Islamic State, in addition to the old aim of bringing terror into the hearts of the idolaters, out of following the Sunna of the Prophet (SAWS) who said: 'I have been victorious through terror in the course of a month' (agreed upon). And in the time in which the soldiers of the Islamic State in al-Sham were continuing to cleanse the areas of the Sahwa forces, Sheikh Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Baylawi (may God accept him) and his brothers in Iraq were preparing for the great conquests, in assaulting the towns. So Sheikh al-Baylawi pressed Sheikh Abu Muhammad to complete a new episode of the series Salil al-Sawarim as a media activity to support the military campaign on the ground. And soon after the publication of the fourth part of the release in order for the hearts of the Muslims to be filled with joy at the victories of their brothers in the wilayas of Iraq, and the hearts of the Rafidites and the Sahwa forces to be filled with fear about meeting the soldiers of Tawheed, God granted for the mujahideen to conquer most of the areas of Iraq, and they broke the borders between al-Sham and Iraq, such that a new page of the pages of glory in the book of the Islamic State began: namely, the announcement of the return of the Caliphate and the renewal of its features that had disappeared, and the appointment of the Caliph of the Muslims who was the mujahid Sheikh Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (may God Almighty accept him).
Assignments after the announcement of the Caliphate
After the announcement of the caliphate, the burdens became bigger, and the obligations greater, and the assignments placed on the shoulder of Sheikh Abu Muhammad increased, for in addition to his responsibilities in the Diwan al-'Ilam, he became delegated by the Amir al-Mu'mineen in what concerns the affairs of the regions outside the wilayas of Iraq and al-Sham, and he encouraged the Muslims at large to migrate and wage jihad, and he called on the factions and organisations claiming affiliation with Islam to cling to the group of the Muslims. And he received the messages from the amirs of the mujahideen in the east and west of the Earth, and he took from them the allegiance pledge to the Amir al-Mu'mineen, and he oversaw the establishment and administration of the wilayas outside Iraq and al-Sham, so he would correspond with the walis, and issue to them orders and pieces of advice, and he was directing their work under the name of 'Abu Obeida Abd al-Hakeem.' And at the same time he was addressing the Crusaders and threatening them with war and infliction of damage through the releases of al-Hayat and al-Furqan and the pages of Dabiq and other outlets. And at the same time he was directing the work of the covert [amni] units working in the land of the idolaters after he assumed responsibility of the matter from the hand of Sheikh al-Adnani who became amir for the Delegated Committee in administering the wilayas of al-Sham after the killing of Sheikh Abu al-Harith al-Ansari (may God accept him). So he followed up word with deed, and followed up the threat with implementation, for the soldiers of the Caliphate carried out attacks in the capitals of Crusader Europe and the cities of secular Turkey and the areas of the Sahwa forces, as they picked off the heads of the apostates, and terrified the hearts of the idolaters, and healed the hearts of a believing people.
A media speaking in nine foreign languages
And in this time the production of the Diwan al-'Ilam reached in quantity and quality a level that aroused the admiration of the enemy before the friend by the grace of God Almighty, for a day would not pass without the issuing of a visual release or more, besides the hundreds of photos and news reports, and the constant broadcasting of exclusive materials by Idha'at al-Bayan [Islamic State radio program], in addition to the millions of pamphlets and da'wa offices whose good spread over the land of the Caliphate by the grace of God Almighty.
And the size of the visual, audio and reading production in the foreign languages and translation into them increased, such that nothing remained from the news of the Islamic State and various products of the Diwan al-'Ilam without reaching the horizons in the various languages. And the magazines appeared speaking in these languages, for in addition to Dabiq speaking in English, there appeared Dar al-Islam in French, and Constantinople in Turkish, and al-Manba' in Russian. And work began on projects of issuing magazines in other languages before Sheikh Abu Muhammad would decide subsequently to unify all the projects in one magazine which was Rome magazine, issued at one time in the languages of English, French, Turkish, Russian, German, Turkistani, Bosnian, Indonedian and Pashtun.
Also there appeared the al-Naba' weekly newsletter, through which tends of thousands of copies are printed and distributed freely in the various wilayas of the Islamic Sttae, alongside the electronic publication on the Internet.
In addition to many of the blessed media activities and projects that still bear fruit after the killing of the sheikh (may God have mercy on him).
Sheikh Abu Muhammad (may God accept him) was working night and day, and leading by himself the work of most of the media teams, and delegating some of his brothers to oversee the work of the media offices. And at the same time, he was concerned with the concerns of the Islamic State, and resolving the problems faces by the various diwans and wilayas, so you would not find him except in continual meetings from morning until evening. Indeed he was sometimes meeting with some of the brothers in a certain diwan, and in the next room other brothers were waiting to meet him so he could hear from them their problems, and they could hear from him his advice and guidance for them, so those continual meetings would only be cut off by prayer time appointments.
The killing of Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani had a particular impact on Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Furqan (may God accept them both), for in addition to brotherhood in religion and binding together in work for years, special affection and friendship existed between the two sheikhs, and the sharing of concerns and responsibilities that he then took on after him, for he took on in his place the amirship of the Delegated Committee for the Amir al-Mu'mineen, and some of the files that he directed. So he bore on his shoulder those burdens from which mountains are oppressed. So he did not taste the food of ease and sleep until God Almighty ordained for him to be killed in a Crusader airstrike that targeted him in the city of al-Raqqa, in 1 Dhu al-Hijja 1437 AH, and his blood flowed in the path of God Almighty as he hoped. We reckon him as such and we do not vouch for God over anyone. And praise be to God the Lord of the Worlds.