CAIRO: An ex-police officer was reportedly killed in Iraq in May after he joined the Islamic State Group (IS) over a year ago; news surfaced Saturday from an IS-affiliated website that he committed a suicide bombing.
Ahmed el-Darawy, who died at 36, resigned from the Ministry of Interior in 2007 due to his objections to “police corruption.” He emerged in the media after the January 25 Revolution in 2011 and ran for the parliamentary elections with “reforming the police” as one of his objectives. He lost the seat to journalist Mostafa Bakry.
Darawy family and the Free Syrian Army
Darawy’s brother, Haitham, tweeted on May 29 that Darawy died on the same day. It was understood by his acquaintances that he had died during an operation to remove a tumor in the U.S.; the same news was also reported by some local news organizations.
After the news of the alleged suicide bomb surfaced Saturday, Haitham tweeted that his brother had traveled to the U.S. over two years ago because he was indeed sick, then traveled to Turkey over a year ago, saying that it was to complement his treatment.
“Contact with him was difficult; he constantly changed his numbers. By the end of last May, exactly on the 29th, [some] people called us and said he died, without any details. We announced the news, and I was supposed to go to Turkey to take the body. But we decided to hold the prayer [on Darawy’s soul] and the funeral first. And that is what actually happened,” Haitham tweeted Saturday.
“We had no other information but that he died in Turkey. Then, [some] people published his photos with ISIS and said he was with them and carried out a martyrdom operation. We tried to contact them but failed. One last thing I’d like to stress, the death happened by the end of May. The news published today is old,” Haitham wrote.
Brigadier General Hossam el-Awwak, deputy commander of the Free Officers’ Gathering in the Free Syrian Army, told Mehwar TV Sunday that the Iraqi intelligence was the first to announce Darawy’s death.
Awwak claimed that Darawy died in a joint operation in Tikrit by the Kurdish and Iraqi forces.
“[Darawy] is one of a group of Egyptians who were in Rabaa [al-Adaweya Islamist sit-in;] it was the first terrorist hub that launched the program of [embracing] Islamism for money,” Awwak said.
“We follow Islamist mercenaries and followed the path of some Egyptian youths who went to Syria through a number of tourist companies,” he added.
Awwak claimed that Darawy traveled to Turkey, then Syria, and joined the Islamic State group because it pays more, adding that he finally went to Iraq where he became a leader of IS Shura Council.
Abou Mos’ab al-Masri, a member of the “I Am the Muslim” online forum, which often posts details about IS operations, posted a picture of Darawy with a full beard, black clothes and firearms, claiming that he died in a suicide operation in Iraq without indicating when.
In a reply to the post, self-proclaimed IS member Shaker el-Adib posted that Darawy was the military leader of the “Caliphate Soldiers” group in Latakia, a Mediterranean port city in Syria.
Adib claimed that Darawy said he had been hesitant to join the militant group until he was approached by donors he had met in Turkey who offered him money to fight IS.
Adib added that Hajjaj al-Ajmi, a Kuwaiti preacher, refused to support Darawy in fear drawing the attention of the Egyptian security, since Darawy and “most of his original group are Egyptians.”
The U.N. Security Council and the U.S. State Treasury listed Ajmi as a key terrorist financier in August, because he “serves as a funnel for financial donations” to Al-Nusra Front in Syria. Ajmi, however, has been critical of IS in the past few months and accused it of “slaughtering innocent Muslims;” however also accused the U.S. of using IS as an “excuse to end the Syrian revolution.”
Adib claimed that Darawy used the twitter account @Abo_mo3az22 to openly spread IS ideas. Darawy retweeted the now suspended @i7tdar in August 2013, calling on people to follow @Abo_mo3az22, who “tweets from Latakia.”
“We have known brother @Abo_mo3az22 as a lover of jihad … here he is today one of the people of jihad,” the tweet read. The last activity by @abo_mo3az22 was a retweet Mar. 8.
Journey to radicalization
Although Darawy voted for Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, former Muslim Brotherhood member and head of Misr al-Qawia party, in the first round of the 2012 presidential elections, he became a fierce supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi who eventually won.
In the following months, his tweets contained support for radical groups in Syria and Iraq. He vehemently attacked Morsi’s ouster in July 2013 and participated in the Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in as well as the bitter protests that followed its bloody dispersal.
His tweets significantly decreased after that, and his last personal tweet was published in January. His account now just automatically tweets from religious applications he had subscribed to.
Many activists who knew Darawy since the revolution expressed their shock that he turned out to be an IS recruit.
A Twitter account with the name Eman Lashien that states its owner is Darawy’s mother tweeted Monday “I am proud of this son who preferred the afterlife to this world… may Allah reward you, Ahmed el-Darawy.”
“Be fair to [Darawy who] sacrificed his life and left four children, a young wife and two parents in dire need for him, just to champion Sunnah.”
The account was abruptly closed. Haitham tweeted Monday that his mother does not have a Twitter account and did not state anything about Darawy’s death.