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The Structure of the Islamic State's Real Estate Offices

Diwan al-Aqarat wa al-Kharaj

Real Estate Centre of the Wilaya
Sector Office

Organizational Framework for the Real Estate Office

Islamic State
Diwan al-Aqarat
The amir

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*(Update 28 November 2019): Previously read as possibly being ‘real estate interviews’ (المقابلات العقارية) but on reflection appears to read as ‘real estate transactions’ (المعاملات العقارية).

The Confession of Abu Tahrir al-Urduni: Context and Analysis

Abu Tahrir al-Urduni

Like Nidhal al-Baridi, Abu Tahrir al-Urduni (Nasir Suleiman Qasim) was among those executed for supposed involvement in the assassination of Abu Hashim al-Idlibi, the first amir of Jaysh Khalid bin al-Waleed (JKBW). Also like Nidhal, Abu Tahrir was later exonerated of responsibility for the assassination of The video clip I uploaded is from the interrogations the group carried out with Abu Tahrir following the assassination of Abu Hashim. In sum, Abu Tahrir affirms in the video that he is of Jordanian nationality and commands the engineering squadron in the military section of JKBW. He says that Nidhal approached him and told him not to go ‘the north’/Iraq (i.e. to go to the areas under the control of the Islamic State, a point confirming the relations between the Islamic State and JKBW). Supposedly, Nidhal and others were planning to hand over control of the Yarmouk Basin area to Abu Obeida Qahtan, and JKBW would withdraw from the area and things would return to as they were in the days of Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk. As part of the supposed new arrangement, Abu Tahrir would receive the position of overall military commander. However, note that Abu Tahrir does not profess to know what happened following the assassination of Abu Hashim, though the supposed general idea was that he should play a role in creating chaos in the Yarmouk Basin area as part of the conspiracy.

For some context, note that Abu Tahrir was in Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk prior to the formation of JKBW in May 2016. It would appear that he had previously been involved in the Southern Front group called the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF), which outlived the original Western-backed SRF of northern Syria that was destroyed by Jabhat al-Nusra and other groups in 2014. The southern SRF issued the following statement at the end of August 2015 to affirm that Abu Tahrir was no longer affiliated with the group.

“Southern Front
Syrian Revolutionaries Front

General Command
Monday: 31st August 2015

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Statement

Concerning news that has been circulated claiming that Abu Tahrir is a military commander with the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, we deny this and affirm the lack of truth of this news, and affirm that Abu Tahrir is not a member of the Syrian Revolutionaries Front and is not affliated with any formation or group with us. And he was expelled more than a year ago, but he has constantly been trying to return on the basis of various pretexts, but he is not trusted in terms of security and we know he has more than one link. And it was clear here that he suffers from psychological illnesses.

We also affirm that all the military commanders in the Syrian Revolutionaries Front are of its sons and well known among the sons of Syria, and there is no non-Syrian member or commander.

General Command
Syrian Revolutionaries Front.”

A correspondent in Deraa for the pro-opposition outlet Enab Baladi affirmed that Abu Tahrir had participated in a number of battles in west Deraa countryside, including the assault on Tel al-Jumu’. The correspondent also claimed that Abu Tahrir was known for his strong links with the Jordanian intelligence.

As with the confessions of Nidhal al-Baridi, be careful about taking Abu Tahrir’s confession at face value (though it is clear he held the position he says he held in JKBW), particularly in light of the fact he was subsequently exonerated of responsibility for the assassination.

The Video Confession of Abu Tahrir al-Urduni of Jaysh Khalid bin al-Waleed

(Rough translation of the testimony).

– My name is Naser Suleiman Qasim al-Jahmawi of Jordanian nationality. My father’s name is Suleiman. His name is on my passport. I am in Jaysh Khalid bin al-Waleed, the leader of the engineering squadron in the military division. Nidhal came to me in the base. He asked me saying: What are you intending to do, Abu Tahrir? I said: I am intending to go to the north to Iraq. He said to me: stay here with us and don’t go. In the coming days the area will change entirely. I spoke with him at length: what do you mean by these words? He said: By God we intend to hand over things to Sheikh Abu Obeida as the general amir, and many brothers in the north according to their request, I want to make sure this area avoids the bombing of the coalition aircraft. And Jaysh Khalid bin al-Waleed will withdraw from this area and it will return to the state it was in the days of Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk. I rejected this matter later he said: oh Abu Tahrir stay here with us, don’t go, the coming days will be better. I want to cause chaos in this area and explosions: I want this chaos so that I can take hold of security in the area entirely.

I rejected at first, later he said: I want you to place for me a mine on the Jamla-Abideen road. I will give you all the instructions. And you, if when we ask you oh brother, blow it up even if you blow it up in the air but make for me a disturbance in the area, this area. We want there to be caused in it a a security state of affairs so the security authority we want it to be entirely in our hands and Sheikh Abu Obeida will be the general amir for the area.

– And what would you receive?

– The position of military commander in the area. I agreed to this talk and it happened that on the evening of that day I went and dug a small hole and it is present now and I waited there for half an hour and nothing happened and I did not contact them and I returned to the base and I remained in the base for the time.

– Where is the site of the hole?

– It is nearer to Jamla than Abideen on the main road.

– And after the operation of the assassination of Abu Hashim: what happened?

– I don’t know by God about this thing.

The Confessions of Nidhal al-Baridi: Context and Analysis

Nidhal al-Baridi (photo provided by a relative)


Readers will notice that in the previous post I published a group of exclusive video clips from the interrogations carried out by Jaysh Khalid bin al-Waleed (JKBW) with an individual called Nidhal al-Baridi, who was executed by the group in 2017. For context, JKBW was the Islamic State affiliate that was formed in May 2016 and located in the Yarmouk Basin region in southwest Deraa province on the border with Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. JKBW was eventually declared to be the Islamic State’s Wilayat Hawran.

Nidhal al-Baridi was originally from the village of Jamla in the Yarmouk Basin. He was a brother of Muhammad Sa’ad al-Din al-Baridi (aka ‘al-Khal’), who founded and led the group Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk (LSY: The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade). Nidhal outlived his brother Muhammad who was assassinated by Jabhat al-Nusra (at the time Syria’s al-Qa’ida affiliate) in November 2015, by which point LSY’s affinities and links with the Islamic State had become very apparent. Following al-Khal’s assassination, his associate Abu Obeida Qahtan (aka Qahtan Ya’arab al-Hajj Dawoud: of Palestinian origin and a veteran of the Afghan jihad in the 1980s) took over the group but was then supposedly replaced in March 2016 by a certain ‘Abu Abdullah al-Madani’, who was initially rumoured to be of Saudi origin but actually turned out to be from the locality of Heet in southwest Deraa province. In any event, when JKBW was formed in May 2016, both Abu Obeida Qahtan and Nidhal al-Baridi were in the organization.

JKBW’s first amir was Abu Hashim al-Idlibi (not al-Khal as Step News erroneously claims). He was assassinated in October 2016, apparently in an IED attack. Following the assassination, the group carried out internal arrests that targeted a group of individuals, including Nidhal al-Baridi and Abu Obeida Qahtan. The case of the assassination of Abu Hashim al-Idlibi and the evidence gathered were then referred to the wali of Wilayat Dimashq (i.e. the governor of the Islamic State’s Damascus ‘province’), who then approved the execution of six individuals- including Nidhal al-Baridi and Abu Obeida Qahtan- on the grounds that they were guilty of apostasy. However, the case was reopened in 2018 by the JKBW judiciary in the Yarmouk Basin, which declared the innocence of seven men who had been executed by the group in relation to the case on apostasy grounds (one more apparently than the number of individuals who were approved to be executed by approval of the wali of Dimashq). Among those exonerated was Nidhal al-Baridi. This was because of contradictions in the confessions, improper procedures of obtaining the information regarding what was mutually agreed upon from the confessions, refutation of the case against the defendants by witness testimonies, and the fact that pressure and compulsion were applied against the defendants.

As for Nidhal al-Baridi himself, I have gathered the following information about his background: he was among those who founded LSY. He did not participate in battles but was involved in securing weapons. It is alleged that he had also been involved in drugs smuggling and antiques smuggling. Unlike his brother al-Khal, he did not appear to have a background in Islamist or jihadist trends prior to the war (as for al-Khal, the stories vary from claims that he was of Muslim Brotherhood orientation to a hardline Saydnaya-style jihadist). On a personal level, Nidhal al-Baridi violated the prohibitions against smoking, and one source claims that there were tensions between Nidhal al-Baridi and Abu Hashim al-Idlibi, as the former reputedly feared the latter. As for Abu Obeida Qahtan, Nidhal al-Baridi was on good terms with him.

The confession clips I have uploaded are by no means the full extent of the interrogations with Nidhal al-Baridi. There were apparently nine video clips in total. One should be clear about the limitations of the video clips. We do not know the exact dates and chronological orderings of the clips and the clips are relatively short. It is also clear from them that Nidhal al-Baridi was subjected to torture and was speaking under duress, so the amount of value we can put into the veracity of the confessions is highly questionable.

In summary though, Nidhal confesses to:

– Involvement in the assassination of Abu Hashim al-Idlibi.
– Relations with the Jordanians to establish a border protection brigade under his command.
– Knowledge of an operation that led to the escape of a certain individual called Ali Jad’a, (who was apparently an asset of the Israelis) from JKBW custody.
– Working with Hezbollah to establish secret cells for the group in the Yarmouk Basin area.

NB: The translations of the video clips are in rough form as the volume makes it a little difficult to hear the words precisely. For suggestions/corrections, please write in.

Video Confessions of Nidhal al-Baridi of Jaysh Khalid bin al-Waleed

(Rough transcript of the video)

– There was the Hezbollah group here who wanted to create sleeper cells here in the Yarmouk Basin area and give them aid and military support.

– Fine, with whom have they been in contact?

– They have been in contact with one called Muhammad Yasin Abu Sayfan.

– Muhammad Yasin Abu Sayfan: to whom did he come, I mean whom did the party contact saying that they wanted to offer support? Who would work on the assignments? Who would establish the cells?

– We are the ones who would establish the cells.

– Who? You Nidhal yourself and the group?

– I Nidhal, but in coordination with the general amir.

– With the general amir what did you coordinate?

– Handing over the aircraft- reconnaissance aircraft- in exchange for a financial sum of $1.5 million. The matter turned from a financial sum to an exchange, that there would be the withdrawal of the al-Hajar al-Aswad group in exchange for the aircraft as they would be secured a safe exit.

– So the amir only knew that there would be a swap or exchange: that the aircraft would be in exchange for the withdrawal or the matter of money.

– No, he also had news of the matter of the exchange and we would take money from them.

– But he did not know that you would establish cells here.

– No he knew, and he is the one who gave me the flashstick in which the names were.

– What names?

– The names of people whom he placed directly.

(Rough transcript of the video)

– The assassination of Abu Hashim, who had knowledge of it from the leaders?

– The six people aforementioned.

– Who are they?

– Qahtan, Nidhal, Abu Tahrir, Nadir al-Qaseem, Khalid al-Jamal, Abu Jandal.

– How many meetings did you have before implementing the operation?

– Not all the meetings were such that they were gathered together. For example I was with so-and-so and so-and-so and for example most of the meetings were in the presence of Nadir al-Qaseem, myself and Abu Obeida Qahtan.

– So you were making the plans and distributing the assignments to the rest?

– Yes.

– You mentioned the IEDs that came. How any IEDs did you receive?

– Seven IEDs.

– You distributed how many?

– I distributed two.

– To whom?

– One to Nadir al-Qaseem and the second to Khalid al-Jamal.

– And the rest are where?

– I have them hidden in the house.

– Where in the house?

– In the garden of the house.

– And what is with them?

– With them are the detonation devices.

(Rough transcript of the video)

– Nidhal, tell us about how the prisoners were allowed to escape from the prison. How did the operation happen?

– There was Khalid al-Jamal.

– Khalid al-Jamal: what was his capacity in the formation among you?

– A leader.

– A leader from the six aforementioned.

– He came to me and said there is a group who contacted me- the al-Maghrib group- for the escape of the prisoner.

– Who are the al-Maghrib group?

– The Jews. I said who is the prisoner? He said Ali Jad’a, an intermediary with them for the al-Haramain group from Heet. They wanted to see if they could get him out from the Dawa’esh: the one called Ali Jad’a. Yes Ali Jad’a, we can get him out no problem. Ali Jad’a, he had a companion with him who was Aamer Marhaj, so they got them out.

– But how was the escape operation done?

– I don’t have a review of it.

– But who was responsible for it?

– Those responsible for it were those who had the shift: one called Omran and the second called Noor.

– Okay, those are the ones entrusted with their escape.

– Those who had the shift.

(Rough transcript of the video)

– There was a project on the basis that we establish a border guards brigade with the Jordanian side, to control the area, from al-Mu’allaqa to al-Qusayr, the al-Wahda dam area, and during the discussions with them they informed us that there would be a humanitarian border crossing in service to the citizens of the Basin, and permitting the peoples to farm their lands in the Yarmouk Valley area.

– What did the Jordanian side present you?

– The Jordanian side until now did not present us anything but there was a project but there was the order to delay the matter because of the explosion that happened in Inkhil against the leadership of the Southern Front.

– What were they promising you?

– They were promising us to offer to the brigade 4 by 4 vehicles, with individual light weapons and a humanitarian crossing and a sum of $50,000.

– $50,000 monthly as salaries?

– Expenditures and salaries for the brigade.

– Which brigade is this?

– This brigade was formed under my name. There is no specified name, just border guards, but the brigade affiliated with me and the work entrusted to it.

Sample Islamic State Weekly Hisba Report

Islamic State
Caliphate on the Prophetic Methodology
Wilayat al-Baraka

28 Rabi’ al-Awal 1436 AH

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Hisba of al-Shaddadi

Weekly report


Praise be to God the Lord of the Worlds and God’s blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad and all his family and companions.

As for what follows: this is the fourth weekly report for the month of Rabi’ al-Awal 1436 AH for the Hisba in al-Shaddadi compromising the following reports:

– The weekly report for the works of the Hisba in total
– The weekly report for the patrols
– The weekly report for the detained
– The weekly report for the cases

The report for the fourth week of the Hisba of al-Shaddadi

Praise be to God the Lord of the Worlds and God’s blessings be upon the one after whom there is no prophet.

As for what follows: this is the fourth weekly report for the works of the brothers in the Hisba of al-Shaddadi we mention as follows:

1. All the students who are studying in the areas of the kuffar, whether they study law or other subjects, have been barred from the branches and that has been done in coordination with the brothers in the checkpoints as the brothers have detained them and taken from them the IDs and papers by which they cross to the abode of kufr. And when they came to the Hisba centre it was made clear to them the Shari’i prohibition in this matter. And we sought the repentance of those who deemed good and were pleased with the branch of rights (law) then we subjected them to a Shari’i seession for two weeks and all that was after tearing up these IDs and papers.

2. We brought together owners of sheep against whom we have received more than one complaint regarding eating the goods of the people (of the merchants and others besides them) so they were summoned and brought to the Hisba centre to interrogate them and get to know who is causing the harm to the people. And they were subjected to a Shari’i session.

3. Continuing the Shari’i sessions for the detained in the al-Khulafa’ mosque in the morning and evening as the total number reaches around 100 days. And a Shari’i session inside the centre concerned with cigarette dealers and cases of idolatry and other cases that require an indoor session.

4. We brought together those who work in exchange and transfer of currencies and sale of gold as we listened to the means by which they sell and made clear to them some of the prohibited things into which they fall and we gave them some guidance directives.

5. Continuing the foot patrols inside the market to oversee the violators in placing prices on the goods and the photos present on the goods and the barber shops in not shaving the beard and not limiting it, as well as the tailors whom we have prohibited from tailoring clothes of women, and the doctors whom we have asked to distinguish between the places of the women and men and other professionals.

6. A number of people and cases were referred to areas affiliated with al-Baraka and outside the wilaya as these detained people are near those areas.

7. Dens for cigarettes were raided and a large quantity of them were received from the checkpoints.

8. Regarding the external patrols the brothers went this week to the northwest line as the work required from them was to bring together the people in the mosque and order them to undertake prayer in the mosques and oblige their families with the Shari’i hijab and abstinence, then to take the people in their entirety to the graves to level them and remove all signs of idolatry while giving them a deadline as they would return to inspect the state of the village and take the IDs of the violators. And these villages are:

Tarambat al-Rafi’, al-Atala, Jarmaz, Hajiz Abyad, Tarambat al-Rafi’, Tarambat al-Rashid, Zayn al-Mbraj, Nasiri, Toweinat, Albuhamdan, Albusheikh, Abyad, Makhrum, Ayn al-Hara, Abdan, Ba’aja, Abu Fas, al-Nuriya, al-Madba’a, Kharbat Ism.

9. Regarding the internal patrols the brothers undertook Hisba work in the neighbourhoods, brought the IDs or violator persons, gave a summons request to the owners of the houses and shops committing violations, facilitated the passing of people on the route, brought the IDs and goods and persons from the checkpoints of al-Shaddadi, called on the people to pray in the mosques, and brought whosoever refrained from praying or his ID.

10. After the sermon address of the brothers on Friday- this week was on compensation- a speech was given to the people about the danger of the elevated graves to Tawheed. Then we asked them all to go with us to the graveyard to level it so all should participate in destroying, levelling and removing these condemned acts, and praise be to God.

11. Continuing the Shari’i courses for the professionals as a lecture was given on Monday to the merchants of ‘Arisha and ‘Atala and on Tuesday to the photographers and on Wednesday to transporters and on Saturday to the merchants of al-Shaddadi and on Sunday to the doctors, pharmacists and vaccinators.