Referred to as the “black-bearded, blade-wielding embodiment of [Iraqi] retribution,” Abu Azrael, the ‘Angel of Death,’ is the anti-ISIL hero that Iraq wants and clearly needs. Does ISIL’s ‘Desert Lion,’ Abu Waheeb, stand a chance?

In the Blue Corner

Ayyub Faleh al-Rubaie is his real name, but people know him simply as Abu Azrael. His moniker translates to “father of the angel of death,” and his formidable persona clearly reflects this. Sporting all black clothing and a prominent beard, and wielding an axe, a sword, and a machine gun, Abu Azrael has a cult following inside Iraq and parts of Iran. A self-proclaimed family man and father of five, the Angel of Death fights for the Shia Kata’ib Imam Ali militia against ISIL in the battle zones of Tikrit.

His catchphrase? It translates to something along the lines of, “I will pulverize the Islamic State jihadist group and its supporters until nothing but ‘flour’ remains.”

In the Red Corner

Opposite Abu Azrael is Shakir Wahib al-Fahdawi, known to most as Abu Waheeb. ‘Desert Lion’ or ‘Teacher of the Nusayris’ are two other monikers he’s known by. Abu Waheeb fights for ISIL, and at the age of 28, has risen within ISIL’s ranks to become the group’s senior military commander in the western province of Anbar. Abu Waheeb has done hard time in Camp Bucca on charges of supporting AQI back in 2006, and also has a cult following of ISIL supporters, mainly on Twitter.

His claim to fame? Executing three Shia truck drivers in cold blood after what appeared to be a quiz on the Sunni Qur’an.

The Fight Breakdown

Abu Azrael is a strong pick in this match. The large man sports a bald head, long black beard, and has a nickname of biblical proportions. Acting as the face of the Shia militias waging war against the brutal ISIL jihadists, Abu Azrael has been propelled to his prominent role as a “public figure” through a sophisticated and organized public-relations strategy, and allegedly has anywhere from 280,000-300,000 followers on Facebook to prove it.


Photos of Abu Azrael meeting with the Iraqi transport minister have surfaced online in recent months, as have details of the family man’s personal life and personal outlook on ISIL’s brutality. “You see me go to school to drop off my children, and I am peaceful. But I show another face to [ISIL],” the Archangel of Death said in an AFP interview. “I swear to God, I am not merciful to them. I never have any leniency for them.”