Abu Wahib: Dead or Alive?

Abu Wahib, as I've written before, is the most recognizable, telegenic and frightening looking ISIS fighter. He is the military commander for the Anbar province in Iraq. He has falsely been declared dead several times, including within the past year.

Yesterday, there were reports by pro-Kurdish tweeters saying he had been killed in Kobane. Others said he was killed in Ramadi.


Earlier today, the pro-Iraqi site Iraqi News quoted an official in Anbar named Rashid Fleeh who says Abu Wahib was killed in a strike near Kabisa, 70 miles west of Ramadi, along with "10 other senior ISIS leaders." No photos were released. Later today, the site seemed to either bewalking it back or confirming it, saying the ISIS military leader of Anbar province who was killed near Ramadi was Emad Karim Ghanemi and earlier they had reported it was Abu Wahib. (are they saying they made a mistake or that both were killed?)

This morning, in response to all the conflicting reports yesterday, ISIS posted a photo to show Abu Wahib is very much alive.

Is the photo dated? No. But obviously ISIS would not want to give away his current location. Was the whole thing a setup to get ISIS to confirm he's alive by posting a photo so the U.S. and Iraq could use it to try and pinpoint his current whereabouts? Unknown.

Who is Abu Wahib (often called Abu Waheeb)? He's the terror image for ISIS, also known as the Desert Lion. In a nutshell, he is Shaker Wahib Al-Fahdawi.

Abu Wahib was born in 1986 and studied computer science at Anbar University, until he was captured by U.S. forces in 2006. Suspected of being a member of al-Qaida, he was held at Camp Bucca until 2009, where reportedly he became a "hardened terrorist." He was sentenced to death and in 2009, transferred to a maximum prison in Tikrit in the Saluddin province. In 2012, ISIS leader al Baghdadi orchestrated a prison breakout and Abu Wahib was one of more than 100 who escaped. He then went to Anbar and led a group of Jihadis known as “Usud al-Anbar.” Al Baghdadi appointed him the ISIS military leader for the province.

He is most infamous for not covering his face when fighting or killing people, and for an incident in July, 2013, which was broadcast on Iraqi television and is still available on You Tube. Four men who had been driving by were stopped by ISIS. I'm not linking to the video, but you can read about it here. The men are ordered out of their vehicles and try to convince ISIS they are Sunnis, not Shia. Abu Wahib then comes over and tests them. He orders the men to answer three religious questions. Their answers are filmed.

“How many kneelings do you make at dawn prayers?” ...Caught out on the minutiae of Sunni religious practice, the men stutter different answers.

Abu Wahib tells them that their answers show they are "mushrik" (polytheists). He then takes out a gun and casually shoots three of them dead by the roadside. The fourth man answered the questions correctly and was allowed to go on his way.

There are plenty of scary pictures of Abu Wahib on the internet. There are parody twitter accounts and websites for him.

While I believe he's still alive, he could be dead. Since I don't like to speak ill of the dead on the occasion of their death, I'll post a few "kinder, gentler" photos of him, along with the only nice things I can think of to say about him: He seems to like horses, birds, children and orange juice, he resembles Che Guevara, and when his hair is clean, it looks very nice.

Recently, he burned one of his hands really badly (photo here.) It hasn't slowed him down.

Here's a training video with Abu Wahib in which he does somersaults while holding his large rifle and then gets up perfectly, ready to fire. He does it starting at the four minute mark, for over a minute.

So why do I think he's still alive? In the words of a French parody site about him:

  • When Google can't find something, it asks Abu Wahib.
  • Abu Wahib makes onions cry.
  • Abu Wahib can strangle someone with a cordless phone
  • Abu Wahib took a bottle of sleeping bills. He blinked.
  • Abu Wahib measures his pulse on the Richter scale.
  • When Abu Wahib uses Windows, it doesn’t crash
  • Abu Wahib can leave a message before the beep
  • Abu Wahib can encircle his enemies by himself
  • Abu Wahib can remove his socks with his shoes on
  • Abu Wahib can make an omelette without breaking eggs

If Abu Wahib received his reward yesterday, good for him. The U.S. and Iraq will also be happy. If not, I'll still report on him from time to time. Not because I approve of his actions (I don't), but because he and his counterpart in Syria, the red-bearded Chechen Omar al Shishani, whose team led the battle in Kohane the past few days, are the two most interesting characters in ISIS. And probably the two the U.S. is trying hardest to take out.

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  • Display: Sort:
    I managed to find (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Oct 07, 2014 at 08:48:25 AM EST
    Admit it, Jeralyn (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Peter G on Tue Oct 07, 2014 at 10:53:08 AM EST
    You're just a sucker for a pretty face.

    Wasn't he in Mad Max (none / 0) (#14)
    by jondee on Thu Oct 09, 2014 at 11:44:10 AM EST
    Beyond the Thunderdome?

    he seems nice. (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by cpinva on Tue Oct 07, 2014 at 01:51:13 PM EST
    actually, he looks kind of Amish to me. you know, the beard but no moustache thing.

    the Sunni's and shias have been killing each other for over a 1,000 years now, I'm not expecting them to stop anytime soon. wahib is just the most recent "destroyer of shia's", hell eventually get killed, or take his illegally gotten gains, stashed in a numbered swiss acct., and retire to his beachside cottage, in any country he wants, and someone else will take over, after killing all his competitors.

    supposedly a never-ending war over religious doctrine, it's really about who gets all the stuff, and always has been. as has been pretty much every conflict since homo-take your pick first climbed out of the primordial ooze, and stood on two legs. religion is just an excuse to get the rubes riled up, just like it is here at home.

    He's not frightening looking... (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Tue Oct 07, 2014 at 11:44:42 AM EST
    I see dudes far scarier looking at music festivals, commonly referred to as wookies..

    Know who else (none / 0) (#12)
    by jbindc on Wed Oct 08, 2014 at 12:16:07 PM EST
    wasn't "frightening looking"?

    Ted Bundy, among others.

    Still doesn't mean they aren't frightening or evil.


    Born in '86, egad (none / 0) (#6)
    by Dadler on Tue Oct 07, 2014 at 01:50:51 PM EST
    I have callouses older than that kid. When all a young man wants to do is be a psychopath in peace, you have to feel for the guy. Don't you?

    Okay, maybe not.

    Sorry for careening wildly OT (none / 0) (#10)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Oct 07, 2014 at 02:56:34 PM EST
    we will stop now.

    those comments were deleted (none / 0) (#11)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Oct 07, 2014 at 11:51:12 PM EST
    the topic is Abu Wahib. Please comment about other things in an open thread.

    He looks like Stuart Whitman... (none / 0) (#13)
    by desertswine on Wed Oct 08, 2014 at 10:24:57 PM EST
    (if anyone can remember who that was)