Senior Islamic State (Isis) commander Abu Omar al-Shishani has been arrested in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, according to Russian media reports. The ethnic Chechen jihadist, born Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili in Georgia is more commonly known as his nom de guerre Abu Omar al-Shishani.
Russian media has stated that al-Shishani, a former Georgian military sergeant, was captured along with two other militants yesterday (27 December). He was said to have been captured by US forces but this has been denied by US officials.
Known for his signature red beard he is a veteran of the 2008 Russo-Georgian War and has risen up the ranks of Daesh (Isis) after previously being the leader of a rebel group of foreign fighters known as Katibat al-Muhajireen (Emigrants Brigade), also known as the Muhajireen Brigade, which is battling Bashar al-Assad's troops in northern Syria. Al-Shishani has been subject to several false alarms about his death or capture since 2014, with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov declaring him dead in November 2014.
Al-Shishani was once the leader of the Jaish al-Muhajireen wal Ansar in Syria before joining IS. Shishani is a disenfranchised former Georgian soldier, who was discharged from the amy after contracting tuberculosis.
He grew increasingly disillusioned by life at home, unable to find a job after his mother passed away with cancer. Al-Shishani was arrested for gun running and was imprisoned. In 2012, he left Georgia to head to Turkey and later Aleppo to fight in the Syrian civil war.
Just before becoming appointed northern commander for IS in Syria, the Chechen masterminded the spectacular capture of Menagh Air Base in August 2013, which boosted his standing among comrades. Since 2013, he has had authority over conflicts in Raqqa, Lattakia, and northern Idlib.
Al-Shishani now holds the role of Chief of Staff in the military council for the extremists. According to Batirashvili's father, he called him once to tell him that he was now married to a Chechen woman and had a daughter named Sophia.
Russian media, including Tass, added that seven fighters died as a result of a special operation. And that the three extremists were brought to the city of Suleymaniya in the northeast of Iraq after their apprehension.