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The Islamic State's Head Songwriter Has Reportedly Been Killed in an Airstrike

Maher Meshaal, who also went by the name Abu Hajar al-Hadrami, is believed to have been the militant group's main singer.

by VICE News
Jul 13 2015, 9:05pm

Imagen vía Flickr

US-led coalition airstrikes have taken out the man behind the musical stylings of the so-called Islamic State (IS) militant group, according to the group's supporters on Twitter.

Saudi national Maher Meshaal, whom CBS News reports also went by the name Abu Hajar al-Hadrami, is believed to have been the terrorist insurgency's head songwriter and main vocalist. Word of the musician's death, which is said to have occurred on Saturday near the Syrian city of Al Hasaka, has been circulating on Twitter. 

Confusing matters, some have referred to the airstrikes occurring around Deir ez-Zor, which is about 113 miles south of Al Hasaka, and have identified Meshaal as Abu Zubair al-Jazrawi.

The coalition assaulted IS positions with dozens of airstrikes in various parts of Syria over the weekend, Reuters reported, including seven near Al Hasaka. IS militants in Al Hasaka Governorate are fighting a two-pronged battle against Syrian government troops and Kurdish forces.

Meshaal's tunes are often featured in the group's propaganda videos, according to CBS News, providing eerie soundtracks to footage of beheadings and violent battles. A Google search for Abu Hajar al-Hadrami brings up a list of music videos attributed to the songwriter.

In a report on the group's use of music in propaganda videos published by Mother Jones, jihadi music expert Pieter Van Ostaeyen said that the songs are "so melodic and so intense that people immediately like the sound."

"It gives you some kind of spiritual experience," he added. "But most people have absolutely no idea what they're listening to."

The lyrics are often violent in nature. In a video titled "Saleel al-Sawarim," one line of lyrics goes: "The banner has called us, to brighten the path of destiny, to wage war on the enemy, whosoever among us dies, in sacrifice for defense, will enjoy eternity in paradise." This comes just before fighters are seen shoveling dirt for their own burials. 

Also on Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that two IS leaders were killed in airstrikes over the weekend. Abu Osama al-Iraqi, from Iraq, and Amer al-Rafdan of Syria were reportedly taken out in the assault.

Image via Flickr