US offers reward for Jordanian, who acts as propagandist for ISIS

The US State Department announced on Thursday a $3 million reward for information “leading to the location or identification” of a Jordanian propagandist for the so-called Islamic State, Muhammad Khadir Musa Ramadan.

WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – The US State Department announced on Thursday a $3 million reward for information “leading to the location or identification” of a Jordanian propagandist for the so-called Islamic State, Muhammad Khadir Musa Ramadan.

The State Department announcement said Ramadan “was born in Jordan.” Also, he uses the nom de guerre, Abu Bakr al-Gharib. It also said that Ramadan “has played a key role in ISIS’s violent propaganda operations to radicalize, recruit, and incite individuals around the globe.”

This was the first time the US government has mentioned Ramadan publicly, but it provided few details about him. It did, however, post his picture: a young, bearded man, wearing glasses, and a pakol—a cap worn by several groups in Afghanistan, including the Pashtun, who form the backbone of the Taliban.

Col. Norvell DeAtkine (US Army, Retired), former director of Middle East Studies at the US Army’s John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, took strong exception to aspects of the description of Ramadan’s activities, as expressed by the Rewards for Justice (RFJ) program, the State Department unit responsible for Thursday’s announcement.

“Underscoring his violent extremism,” Ramadan “led an effort to cleanse ISIS of moderate opinions, imprisoning members of ISIS’s propaganda teams who did not meet his extreme interpretation of Islam.”

“OMG” was DeAtkine’s first texted response to Kurdistan 24’s request for comment. In a subsequent phone conversation, DeAtkine explained that the statement was “beyond belief.”

“What moderate members of ISIS are they talking about?,” he asked. He also noted that RFJ’s statement describes Ramadan as “one of ISIS’s longest-serving senior media officials.”

“‘Serving’ whom?,” was another of DeAtkine’s questions. “You might describe someone who works in the US government that way, but to describe someone in ISIS like that makes it sound like ISIS is an official organization and gives them a legitimacy that they in no way deserve.”

“And what,” DeAtkine also asked, referring to Ramadan, “is a Jordanian, wearing an Afghan cap, doing as a spokesman for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria?”

“That makes it seems, as if this is some broad Islamic struggle,” De Atkine said, “but I doubt it.”

Some years ago, the highly-regarded German news magazine, Der Spiegel, published a lengthy article, “Secret Files Reveal the Structure of Islamic State.” DeAtkine called it the “best and most informative account” of the terrorist group.

The article is based on captured Islamic State documents, but it is also a leak from German intelligence. It explains how military intelligence officers from Saddam Hussein’s former regime settled in Syria in the early years of the Syrian civil war and first established the Islamic State in that country, before bursting across the border into Iraq in 2014.

The documents “portray an organization that, while seemingly driven by religious fanaticism, is actually coldly calculating,” the Der Spiegel report states.

The military officers who established the Islamic State, and who exercise command and control, are deeply hidden within the organization. The public faces of the group are figures like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Iraqi cleric who died in a US raid in Idlib Province last October, or the Afghan-cap-wearing Jordanian, for whom the US is now offering a $3 million reward.

Those images serve to provide a kind of legitimacy to the terrorist group, as well as to recruit what Vladimir Lenin, a century ago and in a quite different context, called “useful idiots.”

Imagine how—if the US described Ramadan not as a master terrorist, but as the preposterous pawn of military officers from Saddam’s old regime—that would affect ISIS’ image, including its ability “to radicalize, recruit, and incite individuals around the globe”—as the State Department characterized Ramadan’s activities.

Maybe, a lot less people would listen to him? And the US could save itself a lot of time and effort, not to mention the $3 million of taxpayers’ money that is now on offer.

Editing by John J. Catherine