Syria: The Austrian Islamic State fighter Mohammed Mahmoud, also known as Abu Usama al-Gharib, has been reportedly killed in a Coalition airstrike on an ISIS prison in Syria, it was reported on Wednesday.
Mahmoud was under imprisonment over apparently violating Islamic State’s ‘code of conduct’ when he was killed.
He was among Islamic State’s most prominent German-speaking recruiters, who joined the group shortly after he was released from prison in Austria. Among his closest associates was German fighter Denis Cuspert, also known as Abu Talha al-Almani, who was killed earlier this year in January.
Some more photos of Mahmoud:
He was born 18 June 1985 in Vienna, Austria. His father, Sami Mahmoud, was a member of the banned Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Fearing arrest, he fled to Austria and received asylum five years later.
In October 2002, aged 17, Mahmoud traveled to Iraq via Italy. He was trained in a camp by Ansar al-Islam in Iraqi Kurdistan. He was gone for eight months, but he was arrested two months before the war in Iraq started. In 2005 he founded the ‘Organization of the Islamic Youth’ in Austria.
In Austria, by late 2006, he became a leader in the Global Islamic Media Front, working alongside his former wife to translate videos and texts from Arabic into German. He had connections to Atiyah Abd al-Rahman. He called on Muslims to boycott the Austrian legislative election, 2006, handing out leaflets.
In 2007, authorities became suspicious when he started to buy ingredients for a possible suicide belt and the GIMF published a video threatening to carry out attacks in Germany and Austria if they did not withdraw their troops from Afghanistan. On September 12, 2007, he and his wife were arrested in Vienna. He denied that he had anything to do with the production of the video or that he had any plans for a suicide attack.
In April 2008, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb called for his release from jail in Austria, in exchange for freeing two Austrian captives. While incarcerated, he held a two-month hunger strike in an attempt to secure his release.
Mohamed Mahmoud was released from prison in Austria on September 15, 2011 after serving a four-year prison sentence for being a member and supporter of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates. He moved to Berlin upon release, and between 2011–12, he moved to Solingen alongside Denis Cuspert. There he founded the Salafi organisation Millatu Ibrahim.
On April 26, 2012, Hesse Interior Minister Boris Rhein expelled him from Germany, asking him to leave within one month, after which he left to Egypt.
In March 2013, a video appeared on the internet, in which Mahmoud burned his Austrian passport and threatened terror attacks. A few days later, he was arrested in Hatay, Turkey with a fake Libyan passport. It was alleged he was planning on traveling to Syria and he was held until 19 August 2014 in a Turkish prison. Austrian pleas to extradite him were denied by the Turkish state. Due to Turkish law, police could only hold him for a short period and he was released subject to conditions of reporting to police regularly. He ignored the reporting restrictions and disappeared to Syria.
In 2014, photos appeared of him posing beside dead bodies. In August 2015, he appeared in an Islamic State video alongside Abu Omar al-Almani. Filmed in the Syrian city of Palmyra, the pair executed two Syrian Army soldiers.
While in Austria, he was married to a woman named Mona Salem Ahmed. They later divorced after she left him. He was married to Syrian woman Ahlam al-Nasr on October 11, 2014. His father was active in al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya but has disavowed his sons views. He has left behind three younger brothers and a sister.
On Thursday Islamic State’s Amaq Agency released a video showing the aftermath of the Coalition airstrikes on its prison in Kashma town in Syria that killed several imprisoned PKK and SDF fighters as well as senior IS figures like Abu Usama al-Gharib, Abu Hafs al-Hamdani and Abu Musab al-Sahrawi.
Dissident ISIS group Al-Turath al-Ilmi, that initially confirmed the death of key ISIS leaders in the Coalition airstrikes, released images of what it says are dead bodies of Mohamed Mahmoud and Abu Musab al-Sahrawi.
Al-Turath al-Ilmi, which has been accused by IS hardliners of being an intelligence front, claimed in a statement on the messaging app Telegram that ISIS had deliberately kept Mahmoud and other “dissident” ISIS clerics in a jail that the group knew would be targeted by the US-led coalition.
Al-Turath’s statement of 28 November said the dead clerics had torture marks on their bodies and that ISIS’s security apparatus was keen to bury them quickly to avoid questions. It accused ISIS’s internal security body “Diwan al-Amn” of standing behind the persecution and “elimination” of IS dissidents critical of the rise of ultra-extremism in ISIS institutions and ranks.