Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
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Tamimi is a graduate of Brasenose College, University of Oxford where he studied Classics and Oriental Studies. His family is originally from Mosul, Iraq, his father is Shiite and his mother Sunni.
His work is regularly quoted in media including Al Jazeera, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, The Washington Post, and other publications. He has appeared before the UK House of Commons Defence Committee to advise on the Islamic State and Iraq. He has been described as "one of the fastest rising stars in his field" and "a widely-cited public authority on jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria."
In January 2018, Tamimi traveled to YPG-controlled areas of Syria, observing the graduation of units of the Syrian Border Security Force south of Hasakah and interviewing Nouri Mahmoud, the spokesman for the YPG, in Qamishli.
In November 2017, Tamimi published a friend's account of being sexually harassed by Tariq Ramadan. In the post, Tamimi described Ramadan as "vapid and incoherent" and an "insincere hypocrite" and criticised Oxford University for employing him.
Tamimi is the preeminent authority on the history of the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army. On 20 August, he revealed that "the group's internal security apparatus arrested multiple people in its area of control for having been in contact with me." One of his contacts was imprisoned between 23 May and 21 June 2018. Tamimi asserts he is "deeply sorry that my interactions with people led to their arrests by JKBW."
An internal security report of the organization describes their investigation into Tamimi saying "and among those working for the interest of the Israeli side: Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, a journalist of Iraqi nationality very interested in the Golan and borders with Israel." Some of the group's security officials apparently thought he was working for Mossad, describing his methods as "the distinctions of the Mossad work team at the time."
The report continues "[most of those arrested] were exonerated of most of the accusations for many reasons, among them the fact that the security judge was not convinced he was an intel guy affiliated with the Mossad. But the security apparatus was not convinced otherwise and remained hostile to all following him or contacting him and that was for reasons... in which it appeared that he was exploiting them and their families to extract information and write press articles."
In 2014, Tamimi engaged in a number of interactions with supporters and members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant online. He has been criticized for appearing to provide rhetorical support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
He has described the Indian Islamic State supporter Mehdi Masroor Biswas (known online as @ShamiWitness), currently imprisoned in his home country, as 'brother' and 'friend'. He also co-authored blog-posts with Biswas. He claimed to know the British Islamic State fighter Raphael Hostey ('Abu Qaqa') personally. Among other posts Tamimi made on Twitter were ones claiming "one day even the Kaaba in Mecca will be covered with the ISIS banner" and "Dawla Islamiya (Islamic State) will take over the whole world". American journalist Michael Weiss provided evidence of a conversation in which Tamimi told an ISIS supporter that it was "best not openly tweeting" support for the Islamic State. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross called the exchange "pretty disturbing" while Jonathan Krohn said "had I known this I would not have published anything with him in the first place." According to University of Maryland professor Phillip Smyth, "One crosses the line when one starts to, under their real name and in full view of the general public, kind of act like a jihadi and say that they are a jihadi."
Among academics and researchers to condemn this behaviour were Aaron Zelin, Phillip Smyth, Jonathan Krohn, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Eliot Higgins. "He's presenting two different sides of himself to different audiences," Berger told Business Insider. "He's presenting himself to us as part of this analyst community, and he's presenting himself to ISIS sources as someone who is supportive of their political goals. Both of those things really can't be true. So it creates a problem."
According to Aaron Zelin, who blacklisted Tamimi and removed all his work from his website Jihadology, "his analysis was becoming more and more just pushing that narrative of the groups [ISIS] themselves."
On 14 July 2014, following these revelations, the website Bellingcat removed an article by Tamimi in which he defended the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, claiming it had no relation to al-Qaeda and that the rise of IS was a legitimate reaction to the "marginalization of Sunnis" and the 2013 Hawija clashes. Tamimi was banned from any further contribution to the site.
In response he has said, "I think there’s something to be said that I did try to ingratiate myself in these circles to get information, I agree that that was unethical.” He has also defended himself in an article posted on his blog.
- "Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi - Middle East Institute". www.mei.edu. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
- Armin Rosen (22 July 2014). "The Remarkable Story Of A Rising Terrorism Analyst Who Got Too Close To His Subjects". Business Insider. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
- Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi. "Dispatch: The Syrian Democratic Forces' Border Guards". Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi's Blog. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
- "Interview with the YPG Spokesman". Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi's Blog. 24 January 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
- "Tariq Ramadan: The Insincere Hypocrite". Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi's Blog. 3 November 2017. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
- "Prominent Islamic Scholar Charged With Rape in France". VOA News. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
- Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi (20 August 2018). "'Islamic State' in south Syria: An inside look at its internal security apparatus". Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi's Blog. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
- Al-Tamimi, Aymenn Jawad; Shami Witness (24 June 2014). "GUEST POST: On Liwa al-Islam and the new 'Jaysh al-Islam' merger :: Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi". Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
- Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi; Jonathan Krohn (14 July 2014). "Iran And ISIS – Convenience Is The Enemy Of Research". Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi's Blog. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
- Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi (22 July 2014). "Reflections on Methods". Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi's Blog. Retrieved 5 September 2018.