TEL AVIV – The Pentagon has reportedly denied Russian media claims that a top Islamic State commander was captured by American troops, while Kurdish security officials told the Al Hayat newspaper the commander was indeed seized over the weekend.
Russian news media outlets claimed that Abu Omar al-Shishani (pictured) was arrested alongside two other IS officials in a commando raid and transferred to the Kurdish region of Sulaymaniya in northern Iraq.
The Islamic State has yet to release a statement on the matter.
Breitbart Jerusalem has received some insight into the mysterious commander, thanks to former IS fighter Abu Bakr al-Maqdadis, who recently returned to his native Gaza following an injury.
Maqdadis paints an heroic portrait of his former commander, saying Shishani regularly led his troops to battle personally.
“In one of the battles in Syria,” Maqdadis says, “when things started going pear-shaped after a surprise offensive by the Syrian army of infidels, the great commander, Abu Omar, may Allah protect him, was about to get into a truck full of explosives that we had prepared before for cases such as this and drive straight into the enemy contingent and blow himself up in their midst.”
“But the fighting brethren persuaded him to disembark, and another brother led the mission, which brought about many casualties for the troops of the regime.”
Shishani, who also fought in Georgia and Chechnya, was one of a handful of senior jihadists with combat experience, Maqdadis states.
“He knew how to run an offensive, be reactive to unexpected changes and lead a battle,” he says.
“He has a heart made of steel,” he adds. “He knows no fear, and we never saw him without an explosive belt. His impact on the morale among the troops was enormous.”
“I find it hard to believe that the enemy got to him. He was so agile and cautious.”
Maqdadis claims that Shishani’s fellow fighters “in the Caliphate” deny his capture.
“The marine campaign failed,” he says he heard. “And the Iraqi infidel forces that benefited from a massive airborne American backup incurred many losses at the hands of our brothers, the mujahideen. The Americans forces didn’t even dare to disembark. Our brothers in the Caliphate said they heard the American radio transmissions, in which the troops were furious at the failure of the operation.”
Maqdadis says he does not know why IS has refrained from publishing a new picture or voice recording of Shishani.
“I am not privy to the considerations of the brothers at the helm,” he says.
At the same time, Maqdadis admits, Shishani’s capture or death would have a devastating effect on IS.
“Abu Omar never behaved like a commander,” Maqdadis says. “He was shy, mild-mannered, soft spoken, and rather quiet, even though it’s perfectly fine to be a roaring lion during battle.”
“His attitude toward his mujahideen brothers was similar to that of an older brother to his younger siblings. To some he was a father figure. The mujahideen loved him dearly, in addition to their admiration of him as their commander.”
IS is strong enough to lose some of its commanders, Makdasi says. “If the reports turn out to be correct and the brother commander Abu Omar al-Shishani, Allah protect him, was indeed arrested, I’m sure the shock will be absorbed very soon, and the troops will be further invigorated to fight against the infidels.”
Maqdadis also stresses that Shishani’s brothers and sons are among the fighters, most notably his son, Omar.