Abu Azrael

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Abu Azrael
أبو عزرائيل.jpg
Abu Azrael at the Speicher military base, near the Northern Iraqi city of Tikrit, on March 14, 2015.
Native name أيوب فالح حسن الربيعي‎
Birth name Ayyub Faleh Hassan al-Rubaiee
Nickname(s) Abu Azrael
Angel of Death[1]
Born 1978 (age 39–40)
Allegiance  Iraq
Service/branch Popular Mobilization Forces
Unit Kataib al-Imam Ali

Iraq War (2014–present)

Awards Shia

Ayyub Faleh Hassan al-Rubaie (Arabic: أيوب فالح حسن الربيعي‎ born 1978), known by his nom de guerre Abu Azrael (Arabic: أبو عزرائيل‎, literally "Father of Azrael"), also known as the "Angel of Death" (Arabic: ملاك الموت‎), is a commander[3] of the Kataib al-Imam Ali, an Iraqi Shi'a militia group of the Popular Mobilization Forces that is fighting ISIL/ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) in Iraq.[4] He has become a public icon of resisting ISIL in Iraq among Shia Iraqis with a large following on social media.[5] His motto and catchphrase is "Ella Tahin" (Arabic: إلّا طحين‎), literally meaning "Until/into dust" interpreted to mean "Grind you to dust."

Abu Azrael was a former militia member in Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army[6] which fought against the United States during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Abu Azrael is described in various sources as a Shi'ite who is a 40-year-old former university lecturer and a one-time Taekwondo champion,[8] although other sources dispute that and suggest that this back-story may be fabricated.[9] According to an Iranian source, he has a master's degree in physical education.[10]

Reports from March 2015 claimed that Azrael is a father of five, and lives an "ordinary life" when not on the battlefield.[11]


Following the viral video showing Abu Azrael striking the burnt corpse of a dead ISIS fighter with a sword, American political adviser Ali Khedery was quoted as saying "War crimes are never justifiable. Horrific video featuring a war crime by Iraq's Abu Azrael".[12] Abu Azrael later said that the victim was a foreign fighter.[13]

Abu Azrael stated that he had been told by a senior imam in Najaf that he should pray for penance and "never do such a thing again".[14]

Beside this, on 31 May 2017, a video surfaced showing Abu Azrael lighting the beard of a dead ISIS fighter on fire, laughing and spitting at him while it burns. The video ends with one of his fellow soldiers stomping the face of the dead ISIS fighter, putting out the burning beard. [15]

Public image[edit]

Abu Azrael is currently fighting against ISIS although he has also fought against other militant groups. He has attracted attention in the Middle East, but by the spring of 2015, he had also made front-page appearances on international news websites in England, France and the United States.[16][17]

He has received a medal of honor from the Representative of the Supreme Religious Authority Sayyid Ahmad al-Safi.[18]

In 2016, he was spotted on the battlefield in the Battle of Mosul.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Islamic State brutally executes 4 men in response to slaying by 'Angel of Death' - The Long War Journal". Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  2. ^ Amir Toumaj (4 November 2016). "Abu Azrael spotted during PMF's Mosul operation". The Long War Journal. Retrieved 5 November 2016. 
  3. ^ Levitt, Matthew; Smyth, Phillip (5 January 2015). "Kataib al-Imam Ali: Portrait of an Iraqi Shiite Militant Group Fighting IS". Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Retrieved 16 March 2015. 
  4. ^ Wyke, Tom (13 March 2015). "The university lecturer who became an axe-wielding Iraqi soldier known as the 'Angel of Death': Fearsome warrior has become a living legend among those fighting ISIS". Mail Online. Retrieved 16 March 2015. 
  5. ^ "Iraqi fighter gains social media following in fight against ISIS". Al Arabiya News. 12 March 2015. Retrieved 16 March 2015. 
  6. ^ "Abu Azrael: Iraq's Celebrity Anti-Islamic State Fighter". NDTV. March 17, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Mahdi Army". Stanford University. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  8. ^ Jaber, Hala (15 March 2015). "Iraq's Rambo roars as Isis loses grip on Tikrit". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 16 March 2015. 
  9. ^ Wenig, Erica (13 March 2015). "Hatchet-Wielding Lunatic Kills ISIS, Thrills Iran". The Daily Caller. Retrieved 16 March 2015. 
  10. ^ http://fa.abna24.com/service/states/archive/2016/08/18/707508/story.html
  11. ^ "'The Archangel of Death' fighting Islamic State". BBC News. March 17, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Iraqi fighter carves flesh off the corpse of a burned 'ISIS fighter'". Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  13. ^ "Video of celebrity Iraq fighter slicing body goes viral". Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  14. ^ http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/the-times/shia-hero-abu-azrael-regrets-butchering-dead-daesh-prisoner/news-story/56df83bc7bda9b1e5c033209eafafa47
  15. ^ https://www.liveleak.com/view?t=shBBZ_1526759640
  16. ^ FRANCE 24 English (29 May 2015). "Meet Abu Azrael, 'Iraq's Rambo', the most reknown(sic) fighter in Iraq". Retrieved 8 June 2016 – via YouTube. 
  17. ^ "The Angel of Death is Coming For You, ISIL". Al Jazeera America. March 18, 2015. 
  18. ^ http://fa.abna24.com/service/middle/archive/2015/05/24/688572/story.html
  19. ^ http://fa.abna24.com/service/middle/archive/2016/11/01/711026/story.html

External links[edit]