Monday, September 22, 2014

A00045 - Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Caliph of Islamic State

Baghdadi, Abu Bakr al-
Ibrahim ibn Awwad ibn Ibrahim ibn Ali ibn Muhammad al-Badri al-Samarrai (Arabic: إبراهيم ابن عواد ابن إبراهيم ابن علي ابن محمد البدري السامرائي‎), more commonly known by his nom de guerre Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (أبو بكر البغدادي), is the Caliph of the self-proclaimed Islamic State -- previously the Islamic State and the Levant (ISIL) or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)—located in western Iraq and north-eastern Syria.  He was formerly known as Abu Du'a (أبو دعاء).  He also uses the aliases Amir al-Mu'minin Caliph Ibrahim (أمير المؤمنين الخليفة إبراهيم) and, claiming descent from the Islamic prophet MuhammadAbu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Al-Husseini Al-Qurashi (أبو بكر البغدادي الحسيني الهاشمي القرشي).

On October 4, 2011, the United States State Department listed al-Baghdadi as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist and announced a reward of up to $10 million (USD - United States Dollars) for information leading to his capture or death.  Only the head of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, had a larger bounty ($25 million USD).

Al-Baghdadi is believed to have been born near Samarra, Iraq, in 1971. According to a biography that circulated on jihadist internet forums in July 2013, he obtained a BA, MA, and PhD in Islamic Studies from the Islamic University of Baghdad.

After the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003, al-Baghdadi helped to found the militant group Jamaat Jaysh Ahl al-Sunnah wa-l-Jamaah (JJASJ), in which he served as head of the sharia committee. Al-Baghdadi and his group joined the Mujahideen Shura Council (MSC) in 2006, in which he served as a member of the MSC's sharia committee. Following the renaming of the MSC as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in 2006, al-Baghdadi became the general supervisor of the ISI's sharia committee and a member of the group's senior consultative council.

According to the United States Department of Defense records, al-Baghdadi was held at Camp Bucca as a 'civilian internee' by United States Forces - Iraq  from February until December 2004, when he was recommended for release by a Combined Review and Release Board. A number of newspapers have instead stated that al-Baghdadi was interned from 2005 to 2009. These reports originate from an interview with the former commander of Camp Bucca, Colonel Kenneth King, and are not substantiated by Department of Defense records.

The Islamic State of Iraq, also known as al-Qaeda in Iraq, was the Iraqi division of al-Qaeda.  Al-Baghdadi was announced as leader of the ISI on May 16, 2010, following the death of his predecessor Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.  

As leader of the ISI, al-Baghdadi was responsible for masterminding large-scale operations such as the August 28, 2011 attack on the Umm al-Qura Mosque in Baghdad which killed prominent Sunni lawmaker Khalid al-Fahdawi. Between March and April 2011, the ISI claimed 23 attacks south of Baghdad, all allegedly carried out under al-Baghdadi's command.

Following the death of founder and head of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, on May 2, 2011, in Abbottabad, Pakistan,  al-Baghdadi released a statement praising bin Laden and threatening violent retaliation for his death. On May 5, 2011, al-Baghdadi claimed responsibility for an attack in Hilla, 62 miles south of Baghdad, that killed 24 policemen and wounded 72 others.

On August 15, 2011, a wave of ISI suicide attacks beginning in Mosul resulted in 70 deaths. Shortly thereafter, in retaliation for bin Laden's death, the ISI pledged on its website to carry out 100 attacks across Iraq featuring various methods of attack, including raids, suicide attacks, roadside bombs and small arms attacks, in all cities and rural areas across the country.

On December 22, 2011, a series of coordinated car bombings and IED (Improvised Explosive Device) attacks struck over a dozen neighborhoods across Baghdad, killing at least 63 people and wounding 180. The assault came just days after the US completed its troop withdrawal from the country.  On December 26, the ISI released a statement on jihadist internet forums claiming credit for the operation, stating that the targets of the Baghdad attack were "accurately surveyed and explored" and that the "operations were distributed between targeting security headquarters, military patrols and gatherings of the filthy ones of the al-Dajjal Army", referring to the Mahdi Army of Shia warlord Muqtada al-Sadr.  

On December 2, 2012, Iraqi officials claimed that they had captured al-Baghdadi in Baghdad following a two-month tracking operation. Officials claimed that they had also seized a list containing the names and locations of other al-Qaeda operatives.  However, this claim was rejected by the ISI.  In an interview with Al Jazeera, on December 7, 2012, Iraq's Acting Interior Minister said that the arrested man was not al-Baghdadi, but rather a section commander in charge of an area stretching from the northern outskirts of Baghdad to Taji.  

Al-Baghdadi remained leader of the ISI until its formal expansion into Syria in 2013, when in a statement on April 8, 2013, he announced the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) -- alternatively translated from the Arabic as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). 

When announcing the formation of ISIS, al-Baghdadi stated that the Syrian Civil War jihadist faction, Jabhat al-Nusra — also known as al-Nusra Front — had been an extension of the ISI in Syria and was now to be merged with ISIS. The leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, Abu Mohammad al-Jawlani, disputed this merging of the two groups and appealed to al-Qaeda emir Ayman al-Zawahiri, who issued a statement that ISIS should be abolished and that al-Baghdadi should confine his group's activities to Iraq.[31] Al-Baghdadi, however, dismissed al-Zawahiri's ruling and took control of a reported eighty percent (80%) of Jabhat al-Nusra's foreign fighters. In January 2014, ISIS expelled Jabhat al-Nusra from the Syrian city of Ar-Raqqah, and in the same month clashes between the two in Syria's Deir ez-Zor Governorate killed hundreds of fighters and displaced tens of thousands of civilians. In February 2014, al-Qaeda disavowed any relations with ISIS.

According to several Western sources, al-Baghdadi and ISIS have received private financing from citizens in Saudi Arabia and Qatar and enlisted fighters through recruitment drives in Saudi Arabia in particular.

On June 29, 2014, ISIS announced the establishment of a caliphate. Al-Baghdadi was named its caliph, to be known as Caliph Ibrahim, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was renamed the Islamic State (IS). 

The declaration of a caliphate was heavily criticized by Middle Eastern governments and other jihadist groups, and by Sunni Muslim theologians and historians.

IOn July 5, 2014, a video was released apparently showing al-Baghdadi making a speech at the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, northern Iraq. A representative of the Iraqi government denied that the video was of al-Baghdadi, calling it a "farce". However, both the BBC and the Associated Press quoted unnamed Iraqi officials as saying that the man in the video was believed to be al-Baghdadi. In the video, al-Baghdadi declared himself the world leader of Muslims and called on Muslims everywhere to support him.

On July 8, 2014, ISIS launched its magazine Dabiq.  Its title appears to have been selected for its eschatological connections with the Islamic version of the End times or Malahim. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

A00044 - Ibn al-Quff, Author of Basics in the Art of Surgery

Ibn al-Quff
Ibn al-Quff (1233-1286{1305?}).  Christian physician and surgeon.  He was the first known military physician surgeon and composed a manual on surgery.  The Arab physician Ibn al-Quff, a student of Ibn al-Nafis, described embryology and perinatology more accurately in his Al-Jami.

Amīn-ad-Daula Abu-'l-Faraǧ ibn Yaʻqūb ibn Isḥāq Ibn al-Quff al-Karaki (Arabicأمين الدولة أبو الفرج بن يعقوب بن إسحاق بن القف الكركي‎)  was an Arab physician and surgeon and author of the earliest medieval Arabic treatise intended solely for surgeons.

Ibn al-Quff was born in the city of Al Karak (in modern-day Jordan). His father was Muwaffaq al-Dīn Yaʿqūb, a Christian Arab. His father had a good job opportunity and moved his family to Sarkhad in Syria, where Ibn al-Quff was tutored by Ibn Abi Uṣaybiʿah who introduced him to the medical studies. He studied with Ibn Abi Uṣaybiʿah and learned a lot of medical information, read many biographies on earlier doctors, and spent a large amount of time meditating on the material he studied and learned. Ibn al-Quff ended up moving to Damascus where he improved his knowledge and studied metaphysics, philosophy, medicine, natural sciences, and mathematics. It is not completely clear as to who was teaching him all of this material but regardless he learned a large amount of information which would be very beneficial for his career. After he had studied for a while and proved he was a good knowledgeable physician and surgeon, he was given the job of physician-surgeon in the army which was stationed in Jordan. It was while serving in the army that he became well known as a physician and a surgeon. His reputation became widespread in the Muslim empire for being a Christian Arab, for caring for his patients and for conducting his work with honesty. After his time of popularity died down he was sent to Damascus and remained there teaching until his death at the age of fifty-two.

During his time in Jordan being a physician-surgeon, Ibn al-Quff wrote many books and taught. He was more well known as a writer and educator on medical topics than for being a doctor. He wrote at least ten commentaries and books during his lifetime. Seven of these works are known to exist today whether fragments or the entire work. One of his most famous works was a commentary on Ishārāt of Ibn Sina, but there is no evidence of this today. Some of the most well known surviving works of Ibn al-Quff are listed below with a brief description.
  • Kitāb al-ʻUmda fi 'l-ǧirāḥa (كتاب العمدة في الجراحة) or Basics in the Art of Surgery: a general medical manual covering anatomy and drugs therapy as well as surgical care, concentrating on wounds and tumors, however, he excluded ophthalmology as he considered it to be a specialty with its own technical literature. The work was published in Hyderabad, India, in 1937. This was by far the largest Arabic text on surgery during the entire medieval period. In this book, Ibn al-Quff explained the connections between arteries and veins which was the earliest description of what would be known as capillaries. He did this work before the invention of a microscope and also explained how valves worked and the direction they opened and closed.
  • Al-Shafi al-Tibb (The Comprehensive of the Healing Arts): His first medical encyclopedia, completed early 1272 AD.
  • Jāmiʻ al-gharaḍ fī ḥifẓ al-ṣiḥḥah wa-dafʻ al-maraḍ (جامع الغرض في حفظ الصحة ودفع المرض): on preventive medicine and the preservation of health in 60 chapters, completed around 1275. 
  • Al-usul fi sarh al-fusul: A two-volume commentary on the works of Hippocrates.
  • Risala fi manafi al-a da: A treatise on the anatomy of the body's organs.
  • Zubad at-Tabib: A book with advice for practicing physicians.
  • Sarh al-Kulliyat: A commentary on Avicenna's work Qanun fi t-Tibb.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A00043 - Ahmed Seif, Egyptian Human Rights Lawyer

Seif, Ahmed
Ahmed Seif , also written as Ahmad Saif (el-Islam Hamad Abd el-Fattah) (January 9, 1951 - August 27, 2014), was an Egyptian journalist and human rights lawyer.

In the 1980s, Seif served a five-year prison sentence for activism. Afterwards, he was still several times imprisoned for political reasons, including during the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. In 1999, he was one of the founders of the Hisham Mubarak Center for Law. In 2011, he was also leader of the political movement Kefaya. 

Seif was the father of two prominent activists during the Egyptian Revolution, Mona Seif and Alaa Abd El Fattah.  Seif married to Laila Soueif, a professor of mathematics at the University of Cairo. 

Because of Seif's involvement in the socialist movement, he was arrested in 1983 and tortured by agents of the Egyptian security forces. For five years, he was in prison. After his release, Seif focused on the fight against torture in Egypt.  In 1989, shortly after his release, he took on one of the most important human rights issues in the country itself.  Because of his struggle against torture and injustice he grew over the years into a central figure in several successful Egyptian human rights cases. 

In 1999, he was one of the founders of the Centre Hisham Mubarak for Law in Cairo, a center named for Hisham Mubarak, a lawyer who had focused on human rights and the granting of legal assistance to victims of violations of human rights laws. 

Seif was one of the attorneys in the case against fifteen defendants after the bombing in Taba and other places in the Sinai in October 2004.  Seif argued strongly against the wave of bombings while. on the other hand, arguing that the defendants in no way tortured of engaged in violations of human rights. Nevertheless, all fifteen defendants were convicted on the basis of confessions obtained during their torture.  

Other high-profile cases with other lawyers were the Queen Boat case in 2001, in which 52 men were tried on the basis of their sexual orientation, and the defense of 49 textile workers because they had participated in protests on April 6, 2008 in Mahalla.

In 2006, Seif took on the defense of Karim Amer, the first blogger who was indicted for a crime because of his criticism, on the Internet, of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Islam.  Amer was sentenced to four years imprisonment. 
Seif died on August 27, 2014 at the age of 63 during open-heart surgery.