BEIRUT – ISIS has foiled a serious coup attempt aimed at deposing its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to a report published after the extremist group allegedly executed a top official in Mosul.
“For the first time ever there has been an attempt to depose Abu Bakr al-Baghadi,” Alaraby Aljadeed quoted corroborative Syrian and Iraqi sources as saying.
The London-based daily reported that as a result of the attempted coup, thirteen prominent ISIS commanders have been executed for their role in the conspiracy, including five high-ranking military officials.
“Most of the executed commanders were Arabs from the Arab Maghreb [northern Africa] region, Syria, Yemen and Kuwait. One Kurd and one Chechen were also executed,” the article said.
The newspaper added that the aborted coup “took place after harsh disputes over the course the group’s military operations were taking and their expansion to include jihadist factions that oppose the group, especially in Syria, Libya and Afghanistan.”
The Alaraby Aljadeed report comes on the heels of earlier accounts that ISIS had executed a top official in Mosul “on charges of conspiracy” amid rifts between foreign and local jihadists in the group.
A well-informed source in the Iraqi city of Mosul told Alaraby Aljadeed that a plot had been drawn up to kill Baghdadi near the group’s stronghold in Syria.
“The coup, which was aborted a short time before it came to fruition, would have targeted Baghdadi’s convoy with IEDs on a farm road south of the Syrian city of Raqqa.”
According to the source, the exposure of the coop and subsequent executions, which took place between June 10 and 13, came as “a powerful shock–the most violent that group has seen internally.”
“Treachery among the plotters of the operation led to its exposure two days before its enactment,” he added.
“Baghdadi arrested all the plotters, executed them violently and left their heads hanging in one of the group’s main bases until the first days of Ramadan.”
Syrian fuel merchant
A Syrian fuel merchant who has dealings with ISIS told Alaraby Aljadeed he had received information suggesting that leading members of the group had grown tired of their chief.
“Baghdadi is no longer consensually [accepted] by the group’s leadership and there is obvious complaining by military commanders, as well as opinion makers.”
“Baghdadi’s confidantes say the 13 commanders were executed because they were spying for the American and Saudi intelligence agencies.”
“The truth is that there was a well-planned assassination attempt and Baghdadi escaped it.”
“Baghdadi’s [promotion] of Iraqi leaders and dismissal of leaders from other countries shows how far the disagreement went,” the merchant claimed.
“The foremost disputes were connected to the slaughter of Sunni factions in Syria and Iraq; others to Baghdadi’s insistence on fighting the Kurds at a time when they had taken a defensive, rather than offensive, position towards ISIS; and [there was also] a dispute over the focusing of efforts on fighting the Popular Mobilization militias and the Iraqi army, not to mention the two recent bombings in Saudi Arabia.”
In a phone call with Alaraby Aljadeed a tribesman from western Iraq’s Anbar Province said he believed there was “hope that the period of the group’s fragmentation and erosion has begun earlier than expected.”
“The series of executions, liquidations and feuding has begun within the group,” said Sheikh Khalil al-Alwani.
“There is a wing that does not consider Baghdadi fit to rule. Others believe that Syrians have a greater right to the caliphate than Iraqis.”
“Another section believes that Baghdadi’s excessive killing of those who oppose [him] in Islamist factions in several countries… his expanded attacks and his avoidance of consultation on important decisions have not helped preserve his image as the caliph who does no wrong.”