Syrian Rights Group Says Omar Shishani Not Killed in Strike

Two days ago, the U.S. said it targeted Georgian ISIS military leader Omar (Umar) al Shishani (originally from the Russian Caucasus) in an airstrike in al-Shadadi, Syria. The U.S. said he was believed to be dead. (Shishani, whose real name is Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili, been high on the U.S. designated terrorist list for a while. )

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (which is highly critical of ISIS) yesterday said Shishani was badly injured in the strike but was not killed. He's been transferred to a hospital in Raqqa, where he's being treated by a European jihadist doctor. [More...]

His bodyguards have been reported killed.

Shishani has falsely been reported killed many times. Three weeks ago it was reported he had arrived in Libya. It's also been reported that he recruited Jihadi John (Mohamed Emwazi), but it was also reported that Amr al Ibsi (killed last week) recruited him. My thoughts a few months ago:

My best guess is [Jihadi John] joined up with Amr al-Ibsi and with Chechen Omar al Shishani, when Shishani broke with Nusra and brought his immigrant fighter battallion to al Baghdadi and ISIS. It may be that it was al Ibsi, who was in charge of prisons, who made him a prison guard.

When he first got to Syria, he was with Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Answar. He split from that group and declared his allegiance to al Baghdadi. Those that went with him included a group of foreign fighters called Katibat al-Muhajireen (Emigrants Brigade), also known as the Muhajireen Brigade, which reportedly included "Jihadi John". When Emwazi's identity was first disclosed, I wrote:

Many of the British recruits attended training camps led by the Chechens who were part of Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar. Omar al Shishani left to align with ISIS, in November or December, 2013, some went with him and some stayed, aligned with al Nusra. One group with a lot of British and European fighters was Katiba al-Muhajireen (which folded in April, 2013 and merged with other groups.) Many eventually ended up with ISIS. Back then, ISIS sometimes ran training camps together with other groups.

But I wasn't sure if he was directly connected to al Shishani.

Is he connected to Omar al Shisani, Abu Ubayda al Madani or Abu al Athir Amr al Absi? There's a British jihadist in the al Madani video who sounds similar to Emwazi and says:

I represent from Britain here in the UK. We will fight the mushrikin, the murtadin, we will fight Bashar, we will fight the whole world until Allah is the highest.

Shishani led the ISIS battle that took the al Omar oil field from al Nusra on July 3, 2014. He also led ISIS in a fight against the Kurds in Kobane.

And he led the ISIS fighters in the takeover of Menagh air force base in Aleppo. Not everyone agreed he was a great leader in that attack.

Shishani has been reported captured or killed so many times it's hard to draw any conclusion from this week's conflicting reports.

The mother of another Chechen ISIS fighter, Khamzat Borchashvili, who was killed in Iraq, told an interesting story about Umar here. Umar's father had his say here. And Raffaello Pantucci of the Royal United Services Institute think tank, UK, wrote:

“Omar al-Shishani is the most prominent of the Caucasian fighters alongside ISIL and is seen as the leader of the foreign fighter brigades. We have seen how Brits and other Europeans have often been marshalled under his wing and the result is that he is elevated to be a figure of great significance in the mythology around the group and what it is doing, in particular in the imagery and videos they release. While his skills and abilities have been called into question by others, he has undeniably become the most prominent of the so-called Chechen fighters in Syria.”

So is he dead, injured, captured, or thousands of miles away in Libya? I'd like to hear what ISIS has to say, if anything, on the topic.

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    Related, Somewhat (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Mar 11, 2016 at 11:34:42 AM EST
    Flash drive identifying 'Islamic State' fighters given to British broadcaster

    A boon for Western intelligence

    The documents could be used to hunt down current fighters, diminish the flow of would-be jihadists from Europe and the United States, and perhaps compel others to turn against the group.

    "Understanding how people have traveled and who recruited them, is a key opportunity to reduce those leaving in the future," Phillips told AFP.

    The British broadcaster said they obtained the documents from a man in Turkey who goes by the name of Abu Hamed, a former Free Syrian Army member who joined IS. They say that he stole the memory stick of documents and that he left IS because Islamic rules had collapsed inside the group.

    Hamed said IS had given up on its headquarters in the Syrian city of Raqqa and was moving into the desert, adding that former soldiers from the Iraqi Baath party of executed dictator Saddam Hussein had taken over the organization.

    He's dead again. (none / 0) (#2)
    by Mr Natural on Tue Mar 15, 2016 at 12:44:09 AM EST
    According to this New York Times story: Omar the Chechen, an ISIS Official Wounded by U.S. Raid, Has Died

    Despite being widely thought of as a leader and a warrior, some called him "Abu Meat" because he had a reputation for sitting in a control room and sending young men to their deaths.

    I think that that situation is getting more and more taught and I think that it should change.
    Melissa from casestudywriter .

    SITE VIOLATOR (none / 0) (#4)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Mar 15, 2016 at 09:33:30 AM EST
    And a spelling violator with 'taught' for taut ! (none / 0) (#5)
    by gbrbsb on Tue Mar 15, 2016 at 09:39:30 PM EST