Mohammed Younis al-Ahmed
محمد يونس الأحمد
|Regional Secretary of the Regional Command of the Iraqi Regional Branch|
|Assumed office |
3 January 2007
(in opposition to Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri)
|Preceded by||Saddam Hussein|
|Born||1949 (age 69–70)|
al-Mowall, Mosul Province, Kingdom of Iraq
|Political party||Iraqi Regional Branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party|
|Allegiance|| Ba'athist Iraq (to 2003)|
Iraqi Ba'ath Party
|Branch/service||Iraqi Army (to 2003)|
|Unit||Political Guidance Directorate|
|Commands||al-Awda (from 2003)|
Mohammed Younis al-Ahmed al-Muwali (Arabic: محمد يونس الأحمد) aka Khadr al-Sabahi is a former senior member of the Iraqi Ba'ath Party. Ahmed currently has a million dollar bounty placed on his head as one of Iraq's most wanted men accused of funding and leading resistance operations. He is the leader of al-Awda; an underground Ba'athist movement in Iraq.
Early life and career in Ba'athist Iraq
Ahmed was born in 1949 in al-Mowall in the Kingdom of Iraq's Mosul Province,[a] and rose in the ranks of the Iraqi Ba'ath Party under the rule of Saddam Hussein. Initially serving in the Iraqi Army's Political Guidance Directorate, which was tasked with ensuring Ba'athist control of the military, Ahmed later became a senior member of the party's Military Bureau.
Though part of the Ba'ath Party's supreme command by the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the United States did not prioritize his capture until months after the fall of the Ba'athist government, inadvertently giving Ahmed enough time to go into hiding.
A former aide to former President of Iraq and leader Saddam Hussein and a regional Baath Party organiser who it appears was trained in Moscow, following the 2003 Iraq War, he was allegedly one of the leading figures among the Iraqi Insurgency and a major rival to Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri. By 2006, the Iraqi government alleged he was a "operational leader", "financial faciliator" and field commander of the Ba'athist insurgents.
Largely based in Syria since the war, Younis was accused by Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki to have access to substantial funds and that he has been disbursing funds and directing fighting of Sunni insurgents inside Iraq. According to journalists Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attempted to make al-Ahmed the leader of the Iraqi Baathist insurgents at some point. However, others reported that his organization, al-Awda has many Shi'ites in the middle level and is attractive to some former Ba’athist Shi'ites from southern Iraq, and it is believed that Shi'ite followers of Younis are active in southern Iraq. Furthermore, it is reported that Younis' organization is focused on securing political rehabilitation, amnesties and the repatriation of Baathist exiles, unlike the Naqshbandi Army which wants to violently overthrow the Iraqi government. According to the United States Department of the Treasury, Younis has lived back and forth between Syria, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.
On 23 August 2009 the Iraqi government aired a taped of an alleged conversation between two members of the Syria-based Iraqi Ba'athist movement, Sattam Farhan and al-Ahmed, linking them with the August 2009 Baghdad bombings which claimed more than 100 lives. The Syrian foreign ministry denied Syrian involvement in the attack. On 25 August Iraq summoned its ambassador to return from Syria, the Syrian government issued a similar order to its ambassador within hours in retaliation. When the Iraqi government demanded in November 2009 that Syria extradited al-Ahmed, President al-Assad refused to do so, claiming that he had already been expelled from Syria. Despite this, Iraqi and American security forces have reported of no signs Baathists illegally crossing the border in recent months and responsibility for the August bombings was later claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq.
Ahmed was first mentioned in a report in the Iraqi government-owned al-Sabah newspaper, which reported on 6 December 2004 that a captured insurgent, Moyayad Yaseen Ahmad, the leader of Jeish Muhammad, had claimed that Ahmed had recently been elected Secretary of the Iraqi Ba'ath Party at a conference held by a group of Ba'athist fugitives in Al-Hasakah, Syria. Ahmed made another attempt for the party leadership following the death of Saddam Hussein, leading to condemnation from supporters of al-Douri who ordered the expulsion of Ahmed and 150 other members of the party. Ahmed issued a counter-order ordering the expulsion of al-Douri from the party, leading to the creation of two separate wings of the Iraqi Ba'ath Party. Al-Douri issued a statement criticizing Syria and Younis for what al-Douri claimed was an American-supported attempt to undermine the Iraqi Ba'ath party, although this statement was later downplayed.
Ahmed's wing of the party allegedly has contacts with former Republican Guard Commander Ra'ad al-Hamdani, and has also allegedly been in contact with Wafiq Al-Samarrai in an effort to legitimize the party.
Ahmed, in his attempts to reunite the party, and built a close working relationship with the Syrian government, unlike al-Douri, who distrusts the Syrians due to their alliance with the Iranians. The Syrian government is quietly supporting Ahmed in order to gain more control over the Iraqi Ba'ath party. In March 2009 several members representing Younis approached Coalition Forces and the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Saladin Governorate. They met with representatives of the Coalition, instead of representatives of the Iraqi Government, because they claimed the Iraqi government was under Iranian influence, and might seek revenge against any Ba'ath Party members. They said that the Younis-led faction were dissatisfied with the present government of Iraq, which they claimed was both sectarian and also failing to provide infrastructure and public services. The representatives claimed that the Younis-led faction wasn't opposed to democracy, and instead wished to peacefully participate in the democratic process. They also claimed that unlike the al-Douri-led faction, they recognized that the pre-2003 Ba'athist government had made many mistakes, and that Iraq could not return to that system of government.
Ahmed's attempts to recruit support in Syria from former Iraqi Ba'athists is meeting some success, particularly among the poorer Sunni Arab segment of the refugee population, due in part to Ahmed's ability to offer cash incentives and Syrian residency permits due to their closeness to the Syrian government.
- Iraq Releases Most-Wanted List - CBS, 3 July 2006
- Consolidated list of financial sanctions targets in the UK - HM Treasury
- al-Lami, Alaa (18 January 2012). "Sectarian Divisions Plague Iraqi Baath Party". Al Akhbar. Archived from the original on 21 July 2013.
- Rafid Fadhil Ali (9 February 2009). "Reviving the Iraqi Ba'ath: A Profile of General Muhammad Yunis al-Ahmad". Jamestown Foundation. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
- Battle for New Leader Likely The Guardian, 1 January 2007
- Cordesman & Baetjer (2006), p. 257.
- Weiss & Hassan (2016), p. 108.
- A conflict over 15 billion dollars between Izzat Al-Duri and Mohammed Younis al-Ahmed Iraq Directory, 16 November 2006
- Hafez (2007), p. 49.
- Al-Awda Party and the Ba’athist Dream of Return in Iraq
- Gulf States Newsletter. Washington Institute
- Treasury Designates Financial Supporter of Iraqi Insurgency. Press Center, United States Department of the Treasury.
- "Iraq and Syria recall ambassadors". BBC. 25 August 2009. Retrieved 27 June 2009.
- Weiss & Hassan (2016), pp. 107, 108.
- On Syria border: No sign of Saddam loyalists. The Associated Press.
- Sam Dagher (25 April 2009). "Iraq Resists Pleas by U.S. to Placate Baath Party". New York Times. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- Hugh Naylor (7 October 2007). "Syria Is Said to Be Strengthening Ties to Opponents of Iraq's Government". New York Times. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- "Salah Ad Din: Yunis Ba'ath Faction Seeks Reconciliation; Says It Can Split Al Duri's Faction". WikiLeaks. 19 March 2009. WikiLeaks cable: 09BAGHDAD759. Archived from the original on 7 December 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2011. Cite journal requires
- Cordesman, Anthony H.; Baetjer, Patrick (2006). Iraqi Security Forces: A Strategy for Success. Westport; London: Praeger.
- Hafez, Mohammed M. (2007). Suicide Bombers in Iraq: The Strategy and Ideology of Martyrdom. Washington D.C.: United States Institute of Peace. ISBN 978-1601270047.
- Weiss, Michael; Hassan, Hassan (2016) [1st pub. 2015]. ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror (2nd ed.). London; New York City: Regan Arts. ISBN 1941393578.