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Name of leader          Adnan ‘Uqla, aka al-Khalifa (the Caliph) [1]


Organization                al-Tali’a al-Muqatila lil-Mujahedin


Conflict country          Syria


Gender                          Male   


Year of birth                 1950[2]


Place of birth               Haspin, al-Qunaytireh, Syria


Year of death               1983 or 1984[3][4]







Birth order


His birth order is unknown.


Age at start of rebel leadership


He began his leadership at the age of 30.[5]


Leader entry method


He seized power. Founded by Marwan Hadid, the leadership role of al-Tali’a al-Muqatila lil-Mujahedin went to Abdel Sattar az-Za’aim upon Hadid’s death in a Syrian prison in 1976. Az-Za’aim allowed for greater autonomy of localized cells. Due to deficiencies in az-Za’aim’s charisma as a leader, ‘Uqla rose to power within the organization[6] and gained the title “Caliph” among the organization’s followers.[7] Upon az-Za’aim’s death, ‘Uqla became the organization’s de facto leader despite the official leadership role going to Hisham Jumbaz.[8]




Yes, the noted ambiguous leadership situation noted above suggests that at least at some point ‘Uqla shared leadership with Jumbaz.


Education (also name universities attended, if any); note any relevant experiences while a student


He completed a bachelor degree in civil engineering.          


Ever married? If yes, age of first marriage


If he ever married is unknown.




If he ever had children is unknown.


Religious identification


He was Muslim.


Family background


No, there is no evidence that he is from an elite family background.


Political affiliations and intellectual circles; note any relevant social connections made


Yes, ‘Uqla was a formal member of al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin (the Muslim Brotherhood) and operated as a conduit between the political and military factions of the movement.[9] However, in the late 1970s, after discovering his involvement in jihad against Alawis, the Brotherhood expelled him—though many still considered him a dual member. This all became moot in 1980, when the Brotherhood allied with al-Tali’a al-Muqatila lil-Mujahedin to form a “Joint Command” in order to wage jihad against the Ba’athi regime.[10]


Physical and mental health


No, there is no evidence of poor physical or mental health.


Pre-militant leader occupation


His pre-militant leader occupation is unknown.


Experience in a state military, and role; any relevant social ties


Yes, he served in a state military.[11]


Experience in a nonstate military, and role; any relevant social ties


Yes, he gained experience in the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.


Combat experience prior to assuming resistance organization leadership?


Yes; he operated as a local fighter working his way up within the organization.


Held government position prior to assuming leadership?


No, there is no evidence that he held a government position.


Lived in exile?


Yes, he lived in exile as a leader. After launching a large-scale attack in Syria, he fled to Iraq.


Study abroad?


Whether he is studied abroad is unknown.


Did the leader receive military training abroad?


Whether he received military training abroad is unknown.


Did the leader have extensive work experience abroad?


Whether he had extensive work experience abroad is unknown.


Serve time in prison? Social connections during that time?


No, there is no evidence he served time in prison.


Was there an assassination attempt on the leader by the state?


No, there is no evidence of an assassination attempt by the state.


Cause of Death?


He was killed in action. Syrian forces likely killed ‘Uqla while he attempted to reenter Syria.[12]


Primary language, and other languages spoken as adult


His primary language was Arabic.



Image Credit:

[1] “The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood,” United States Government (26 February 1985) via WikiLeaks: accessible at

[2] “The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.”

[3] “The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.”

[4] Raphaël Lefèvre, Ashes of Hama: The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013); see also Raphaël Lefèvre, “No More ‘Hama Rules,’” Carnegie Middle East Center (19 September 2016): accessible

[5] Line Khatib.  Islamic Revivalism in Syria: The Rise and Fall of Ba’thist Secularism (New York: Routledge, 2011: p. 78).

[6] Michael Kerr and Craig Larkin, eds., The Alawis of Syria: War, Faith, and Politics in the Levant (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015); see also R. Hrair Dekmejian, Islam in Revolution: Fundamentalism in the Arab World, 2nd edition (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1995); and Raphaël Lefèvre, “The Syrian Brotherhood’s Armed Struggle,” Carnegie Middle East Center (14 December 2012): accessible at

[7] “The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.”

[8] Lefèvre, Ashes of Hama.

[9] “The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.”

[10] Kerr and Larkin, The Alawis of Syria.

[11] Dekmejian, Islam in Revolution, 115.

[12] “The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.”

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