Over most of two decades, Abu Mohammad al-Jolani’s life has been a roadmap of Islamist militancy in Iraq and Syria. He joined the fight against U.S. forces in Iraq and was jailed by the Americans. He became a commander within the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq. He founded an Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria and then broke with Al Qaeda and ISI, striking out with his own group to oppose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The United States has labeled him a terrorist since 2013 and offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his capture.
Today, Jolani is the leader of the most dominant force in opposition-held Syrian territory. From his base in the northwestern corner of the country, he and his organization have fought against Assad’s forces, Assad’s Russian and Iranian allies, and Jolani’s own former allies in ISIS and Al Qaeda.