Why Liberating Mosul won't lead to the End of IS

The statements proudly proclaim the killing of different key figures on a daily basis, calling them by their nom de guerre, but “I know for a fact that many of them are still alive” and others “weren’t important in the first place.”

One such man is Abu Ayoub al-Attar, who Iraqi military forces said had been acting as mufti of the city and who they claim was killed in late April. A commander told Al-Monitor on a front line in the city a few days later that he was actually still alive, and Hashimi said he was never very important within IS.

A man “known as the Judge of Blood, Nizam ad-Din Abdullah al-Rifai,” who Iraqi forces have also proclaimed dead, “from al-Zingili in West Mosul, is instead an important figure within the organization” but “I am in contact with some of his relatives and they have told me he is still alive.”

Rifai “is considered one of the founders of the Salafist movement in Iraq and has been imprisoned for his activities four times, in 1978, 1986, 1994 and 1999,” Hashimi told Al-Monitor. “He is a major theorist and most people who joined IS in Ninevah were influenced by him. IS asked him to leave Mosul but he refused.”

IS “is not running away,” he said. “They never run away.” Much of the three brigades of foreign fighters in Mosul have remained in the city, he said.

This includes the “Nahawand Brigade, made up mostly of Asian fighters tasked primarily with tunnel digging and ambushes, the Tariq Ibn Ziyad brigade of mostly French-speaking European citizens who conduct much of the suicide bombings, and the Furqan Brigade, made up mostly of Russian-speaking snipers.”

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