Abu Azrael is a folk hero in the fight against ISIS, but he may be a creation of Iranian propaganda.

He goes by the moniker of Abu Azrael, “father of the angel of death,” alternately wields an axe or a machete, and poses in churches holding bibles.

He goes by the moniker of Abu Azrael, “father of the angel of death,” alternately wields an axe or a machete, and poses in churches holding bibles. http://voc.tv/1HwQbkQ

Posted by Vocativ on Saturday, April 25, 2015

He’s the symbol of Iraqi Shiite resistance against ISIS, the muscly hero promising to pulverize his enemies, while holding all “oppressed people,” including Christians, close. He goes by the moniker of Abu Azrael, the “angel of death,” alternately wields an axe or a machete, and poses in churches holding bibles.

His real name is Ayub Faleh al-Rubaie, he said in an interview. And while his claim to have taught at a university has never been verified, he does acknowledge his history as a militia member once loyal to the radical cleric Muqatada al-Sadr, a foot soldier in his Mahdi Army. Sadr’s militias were responsible for large-scale retaliatory sectarian attacks in Baghdad in 2006-2007, and vehemently anti-American. Since the U.S. troops withdrew Sadr has largely assumed a political role as kingmaker in the Iraqi government.

 

“If we weren’t good-hearted people, we would have burned your houses down to the ground,”

 

he said in a video released earlier this year, in which he’s riding a bicycle through what had become a ghost town. He said that only houses with the ISIS flag displayed were set on fire. And he and his fighters from the Imam Ali brigade have posted images online of themselves abusing the corpses of dead ISIS fighters.

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