was born in 1971 in Samarra, an ancient Iraqi city on the eastern edge of the Sunni Triangle north of Baghdad.

The Soufan Group, a security intelligence firm, has been tracking information from ISIS publications, information from defectors and others to piece together the clearest possible picture of the top leaders in ISIS.

FRONTLINE collaborated with them to create this graphic, showing what’s known about where they’re from and what role they play in their newly established caliphate. Almost all of the Islamic State’s most influential figures are Iraqi; many of them were once Saddam loyalists and several had been detained by the U.

Neighbors who knew him as a teenager remember him as shy and retiring.

Even when people crashed into him during friendly soccer matches, his favorite sport, he remained stoic.

He could have been a university professor, persuading young minds with argument.

But the believer became the commander of the believers, seeking to impose his savagely bleak religious vision on the entire world.

is a fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy and director of the Project on U. He is the author of and be the first to hear about new Brookings Essays and other related research from Brookings.

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They order executions and craft military campaigns, but also issue traffic tickets, regulate the price of foodstuffs and consider whether cigarettes and motorbike racing are acceptable to their brand of Islam.

(They are not.) Who these men are remains mostly a mystery.

The three of us shared many a meal together at the Camp Bucca Dining Facility and after each meal, one of us would go on the mission of retrieving dessert for the group. I went a number of years with that memory tucked away, hidden from my consciousness. It surfaced a few years ago, hung around for a while, then was gone again.