He turned from a candidate for the post-January 25 Revolution Egyptian parliamentary elections into a fighter in the ranks of extremist organizations, and from pro-democracy to anti-democracy that accuses all democracy supporters of infidelity. This is, in brief, the short story of Ahmed al-Darawi, a former policeman and member of the Police Officers Coalition during the “revolution.”
Darawi reportedly died late last May from health complications as he was receiving treatment abroad. However, “jihadist” pages revealed in the last couple of days that Darawi was a fighter in the ranks of the Islamic State (IS) and that he carried out a suicide bombing in Iraq, thus contradicting the original story of his death. As evidence, pictures of him wearing a uniform and carrying an Afghan weapon were published.
The first to publish Darawi’s photo was the Twitter account of “Abdul Aziz,” known for his support for IS and for possessing extensive information about “jihadists” in both Egypt and occupied Palestine.
Darawi’s photo was among other published pictures of dead members from the militant group in these two countries. Abdul Aziz commented on the picture saying, “Ahmed al-Darawi was an officer in the Egyptian security forces and a candidate for the parliamentary elections, and then he repented and rushed to the land of the caliphate and carried out a martyrdom operation.”
The tweet came as a shock for the Egyptian street, not because Egyptians heard the news of the death of the same person twice, but because they discovered how deceived they were, especially considering that Darawi was a political activist who appeared on Egyptian TV screens. Therefore, it was hard for them to accept the fact that Darawi ended up being a suicide bomber for IS. Egyptians dread the IS’ expansion amid the security conditions prevailing in the country.
The controversy of believing the news or not only ended after Darawi’s mother revealed his death on her own Twitter account and said that to her, he is a “martyr.”
Reporters close to IS leaked some information about Darawi, whereby his operational nickname was Abu Maaz al-Masri and he was the military commander of the Soldiers of the Caliphate battalion in the countryside of Latakia. However, that was not enough to fill the gaps in the story of his death, especially as the first publisher of the tweet did not mention the date of the operation.
Although the first news of his death came on May 29, it was strange to have the Iraqi army announce on July 4 the killing of a jihadist bearing the name of Abu Maaz al-Masri in the neighborhood of Qadisiyah, in the city of Tikrit. This prompted some Egyptian media outlets to consider the initial news about the announcement of his death at the end of May as camouflage to cover his travel to Syria and to conclude that he was indeed killed in July, as the Iraqi army had reported.
However, the hypothesis of the names’ similarity remains valid in this case, boosted by the fact that another Egyptian bearing the same name of Abu Maaz al-Masri was killed in the same month in Aleppo, as he was a legitimate leader in Ahrar al-Sham. Add to this the contradiction between his death by suicide bombing or in a clash with the Iraqi army.
What was referred to as the battalion of the Soldiers of the Caliphate was probably the Usoud al-Khilafah batallion (Caliphate's Lions), which was known in the countryside of Latakia and is composed of fighters mostly of Egyptian nationality. Its emir was Abu Hassan al-Masri, and its military commander, Abu Maaz al-Masri. Abu Talha al-Masri was one of its leaders.
Abu Maaz al-Masri had announced last November his battalion's allegiance to and joining of IS. At the time, there were rumors about the invalidity of this news, which forced Abu Maaz to confirm it and to promise to issue a formal statement about the emir of the battalion, Abu Hassan al-Masri. This did not happen, and it led to the unconfirmed conclusion that some of the leaders of the battalion, which counts about 300 fighters, were not satisfied with this allegiance.
Abu Maaz kept tweeting until March 7, the date that preceded two important events that may explain his absence from Twitter: The first being the battalion led by “IS’ Wali on the coast” Abu Ayman al-Iraqi and which he led to Deir ez-Zor to fight the “Sahawat [forces],” and the second being the withdrawal of IS fighters from Latakia to the province of Raqqa because of the widening strife between them and the other Islamic factions.
Darawi was born in 1978, and was a policeman until 2005, when news conflicted about his resignation and dismissal. In 2012, he ran in the parliamentary elections for the district of Helwan against a well-known media figure Mustafa Bakri, and he won with more than 100,000 votes. Although he was an independent candidate, he was supported by the Nour Party headed by Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, who had previously founded the Hazimoun movement, which sent tens of Egyptians to fight in Syria
Besides the battalion of Usoud al-Khilafah, there is the battalion of Jeish Muhammad (Army of Muhammad) led by Abu Ubaida al-Masri predominantly consisting of Egyptians fighters and Egyptians from other battalions.