“The new caliph of ISIS is in Turkey”

ISIS member Taner Sabri Görenoğlu said that the new caliph of ISIS was in Turkey with his men.

Taner Sabri Görenoğlu comes from the direct environment of the new ISIS "Caliph" Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi, alias Abdullah Qardash or Hacı Abdullah. He comes from the Arab minority in Hatay and is in captivity with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). ANF correspondent Bêrîtan Sarya was able to conduct an interview with Görenoğlu and receive exclusive information about the new ISIS leader.

32-year-old Görenoğlu became acquainted with the ideas of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in 2009 in Istanbul and joined the terrorist militia in 2014. He was trained as a sniper and later worked under al-Salbi's command in the financial administration of the ISIS. He was responsible for the collection of "taxes" and the collection of income in Syria, the disbursement of funds and the transfer of funds to Iraq. While he and his family tried to escape to Turkey in August 2017, he was arrested in Manbij by the SDF secret service. In an exclusive interview with ANF, Görenoğlu, alias Abu Zeynep Turki, makes telling statements about the current head of the ISIS, al-Salbi.

Görenoğlu tells that al-Salbi and two of his men had crossed into Turkey before he himself attempted to go to Turkey in August 2017. According to Görenoğlu, the killing of former ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will serve the purpose of Turkey the most.

“The most influential man after Baghdadi is Hacı Abdullah who is Turkmen. All the Turkmens are close to Turkey and this suits the interests of Turkish intelligence service, MIT”, he says.

Görenoğlu claims that Hacı Abdullah will change the doctrine of ISIS and tells the following: “Hacı Abdullah’s doctrine is different, he is not like Baghdadi. His doctrine is not tough like Adnani (Taha Subhi Falaha) and Furkan (Vail Adil Hasan Selman El Fayad). He will be softer towards Turkey and al-Qaeda. He will lend himself to Turkey and al-Qaeda and make deals with them.”


Taner Sabri Görenoğlu says that the new ISIS caliph was in Turkey together with his men, adding: “I know that Abdullah went to Idlib in February 2017 and was going to go to Turkey from there. He was set to cross into Turkey together with Murat Qardash and Leys Abush. I heard this from brothers and Abush himself who said ‘we will move to Turkey’. When I asked him about myself, he said ‘we will inform you in a note when you will leave’.”

Asked about the possibility that Abdullah might have stayed in Idlib, he answers: “I don’t think he will stay in Idlib which is a conflict zone. He is lame, he will have difficulties. He attaches much importance to security. There are many spies of the USA within FSA and other jihadist groups in Idlib, which makes Idlib unsecure. Turkey is the safest place for Hacı. He can move in Turkey in secret. He would not hide himself from Turkey but from the USA.”

Görenoğlu tells that he was instructed to move to Turkey, as what Abush had told him, a few months after Hacı Abdullah and his men left Idlib to cross into Turkey. He continues: “I tried to move to Turkey on Abdullah’s instruction. They had sent me a note which ordered me to leave for Turkey in the 8th month (August) for new tasks. Together with my family members, we left Abu Hashab and crossed into YPG territory. After we spent 6 days in Manbij, we were captured by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).”


Görenoğlu tells the following as to why ISIS didn’t arrange them a safe smuggler although he was leaving on Hacı Abdullah’s order: “I was pretending to be a civilian since 2015 in order to fulfill my mission anyway. I am of Arab origin and know Arabic very well. As my wife was Syrian, it would be easier for us to leave alongside civilians. Hacı Abdullah trained us for a long time. We have a different system of communication. We do not attend meetings, we do not talk to anyone, nor does Hacı attend any gathering.”

Hacı Abdullah is accompanied by men who all won a vote of confidence. They were tried in several occasions so he trusts them. He doesn’t show his men to anyone. He doesn’t have a pyramid system, which means that he doesn’t talk to other people through his aides. He himself gets in touch with others, eliminating the involvement of a third person who could possibly cause an intelligence eruption. We do not come to the fore very much within the organization.”

Taner Sabri Görenoğlu gives the following information on Leys Abush and Murat Qardash who he claims have moved to Turkey with him: “Abush is Abdullah’s left arm. Abdullah mainly guides him for military tasks. He has a knowledge of war. Abdullah guides him to critical areas and allocates him responsibility for those places. He himself is an Iraqi Turkmen. He served as a soldier of Saddam before. He was then in the ranks of Iraqi Islamic State and ISIS. He is also a favorite man among Turkmens. Murat Qardash is one of the closest men of Abdullah. At the same time, he deals with some works of his wife Zübeyde. He is her guard and drives her to where she wants. I do not know how close they are but Qardash could also be Abdullah’s relative.”


Görenoğlu says he had guessed that Abdullah would be Baghdadi’s successor, telling: “Hacı Abdullah is an old-timer and popular within the organization. There are no high-ranking men left in the organization, they were all killed. Actually Hacı Abdulnasır (Taha Abdurrahim Abdullah under SDF custody) was the closest name to the caliphate but he caused a conflict in the organization with his statements. He was extremely radical and was dismissed. Hac Hamid is weak in terms of ideology. For this reason, the strongest candidate, and maybe the only candidate is Hacı Abdullah.”

Görenoğlu claims that it is not possible for America to carry out an operation against Baghdadi outside the knowledge of Turkish intelligence: “It is just incomprehensible. The Turkish intelligence might have even provided information on Baghdadi. Baghdadi was not a man close to Turkey. The Turkish intelligence would know days ago about an operation to be conducted in the area. American officials obviously tried to whitewash Turkey. It must have been known that an operation was set to take place in Idlib and who would be the target; either the al-Nusra Front or ISIS. Even if the Turkish intelligence was informed of the operation 15 minutes before, they could have notified Baghdadi and enabled him to change place. So, obviously they didn’t want to do that.”


Görenoğlu remarks that the killing of Baghdadi will serve Turkey’s purpose the most: “The most influential man after Baghdadi is Hacı Abdullah who is Turkmen. All the Turkmens are close to Turkey and this suits the interests of Turkish intelligence service. After all, as Turkey did not inform Baghdadi although they had known about the operation, it must be because of the fact that Turkey wanted Baghdadi to be killed and replaced by their man so they could have a force united with the FSA. It might also be that they want to use him against the PKK and the Syrian regime.

It was not Baghdadi that ruled ISIS fundamentally. Iraqi Turkmens were the ones that masterminded and advised Baghdadi. For instance, Leys Abush, Hacı Abdullah and Hacı Abdulnasır have major tasks within ISIS. In other words, Turkmens form the essence of ISIS. It is known to everyone that whether civilian or ISIS, Turkmens have sympathy for Erdoğan and ISIS. God knows how many men the Turkish intelligence has within the Turkmens. All are in love with Turkey.”


Taner Sabri Görenoğlu talks about a conflict within ISIS starting from 2017, between the radical wing called “externals” and the wing called “opposition” which is close to al-Qaeda. He himself and Hacı Abdullah were from the “opposition”.

Görenoğlu argues that Hacı Abdullah will bring ISIS closer to the Turkish state: “Hacı Abdullah’s doctrine is different, he is not like Baghdadi. His doctrine is not tough like Adnani (Taha Subhi Falaha) and Furkan (Vail Adil Hasan Selman El Fayad). He will be softer towards Turkey and al-Qaeda. He will lend himself to Turkey and al-Qaeda and make deals with them. Turkey will take advantage of this and use them against the PKK, defining it as the “common enemy” and proposing to do something against the PKK together. After all, people like Abu Hanzala had been holding people who were planning to join the ISIS with the discourse of a “jihad against the PKK”. This is the politics of Turkey, they want to make ISIS fight against the PKK. After FSA, Turkey will want to form an additional army for itself together with ISIS.”


Taner Sabri Görenoğlu tells that ISIS will declare its new doctrine which -he says- will be close to al-Qaeda. “I am sure there will be a new doctrine (contract) and there will be a declaration as people still wonder if the doctrine of Adnani or Hacı Abdullah will prevail in ISIS. I am of the opinion that there will be a peace deal with al-Qaeda, the very organization that considers Turkey a Muslim country and would not shoot down Turkish helicopters in Afghanistan.”

Görenoğlu says he doesn’t expect ISIS to carry out an action against Europe at the moment as the organization is going through a process of recovery. He continues: “Their areas of recovery are Turkey and the Turkish-held areas in Syria. However, once they have recovered, they could engage in various actions.

Alaqat Hariciye (Foreign Operations Team) is currently in the process of organizing itself and its cells wholly. Sarkozy and Erdoğan are not the same. They cannot be put on the same scale. Of course, Erdoğan is better. He provides us with living space. We can live, work and recover freely in Turkey where there could be around 25,000 ISIS members with allegiance at the moment. Most of them are those who came from Syria and Iraq. There are also those from abroad. All have gathered together in Turkey, including those who are free, those arrested and those arrested and released back.


Taner Sabri Görenoğlu has been covering himself from the ISIS members in the prison where he has been held for over two years now. He presents himself to the other ISIS members in the same prison as having broken up the link with the organization, pretending to be more radical than ISIS ideologically and hiding his background in the organization.

He says that Hacı Abdullah is currently in Turkey. Some other ISIS members who were captured by SDF in Hajin and Baghouz claim that Hacı Abdullah could ply to Idlib and Afrin regions as well. Almost everyone within ISIS know al-Salbi with the name of Hacı Abdullah or Abdullah Qardash.

An ISIS member who doesn’t want his name to be mentioned said that al-Salbi sent some of his men to Turkey in 2017. Accordingly, one of these men is Abu Hasan Hicra from Heyet el Hicra (Emigration Unit) who was sent to Turkey in the 10th or 11th month of 2017 by Hacı Abdullah.