Leo of Tripoli (Λέων ὸ Τριπολίτης), known in Arabic as Rashīq al-Wardāmī and Ghulām Zurāfa was a Greek renegade and fleet commander for the Abbasid Caliphate in the early tenth century. He is most notable for his sack of Thessalonica , the Byzantine Empire's second city, in 904. Nothing is known of Leo's early life except that he was born in or near Attaleia , the capital of the maritime Cibyrrhaeot Theme , and was captured in an Arab raid and brought to Tripoli. In captivity, he converted to Islam, and entered the service of his captors as a seaman and commander. In Arabic sources he is called Lāwī Abū'l-Ḥāriṭ and given the sobriquet ghulām Zurāfa, "servant/page of Zurafa", probably reflecting the name of his first Muslim master. He is also referred to as Rashīq al-Wardāmī . Alexander Vasiliev interpreted the element Wardāmī in his second Arabic name to mean that Leo was a Mardaite. The details of Leo's early career in the Muslim fleets are unknown, but he seems to have risen quickly: the historian Mas'udi , who met him in person, regarded him as one of the best navigators of his time. In the Arabic sources, he appears with the generic titles of commander ( qā’id ) or admiral (amīr al-baḥr), as well as governor (ṣāḥib) of Tripoli, and deputy governor (nā’ib) of Tarsus. Both of the latter cities were major Muslim naval centres in the late 9th century, and due to their proximity to the Byzantine Empire functioned as staging areas for the Muslim naval raids. In early 904, along with another Greek renegade, Damian of Tarsus , Leo participated in the Abbasid campaign that wrested Egypt from the Tulunids and restored it to Abbasid control. Leo and Damian would frequently co-operate in the next decade in their attacks on the Byzantine Empire. In the summer of 904, Leo was at the head of a major Abbasid naval expedition of 54 vessels from the Syrian and Egyptian fleets, whose initial target reportedly was Constantinople itself. The Arab fleet penetrated the Dardanelles and sacked Abydos , as the Byzantine navy under the droungarios Eustathios Argyros was reluctant to confront them. Emperor Leo VI the Wise replaced Argyros with the more energetic Himerios , but Leo of Tripoli forestalled the Byzantines, turning back west and heading for the Empire's second city, Thessalonica , which he sacked after a three-day siege on 31 July 904. The sack of the city brought the Muslim fleet enormous booty and many captives who were taken to be sold as slaves, including the eyewitness John Kaminiates , who wrote the main account of the city's siege and fall. The Sack of Thessalonica in 904 by Saracen pirates was one of the worst disasters to befall the Byzantine Empire in the 10th century. A Muslim fleet, led by the renegade Leo of Tripoli, and with the imperial capital of Constantinople as its initial target, sailed from Syria. The Muslims were deterred from attacking Constantinople, and instead turned to Thessalonica, totally surprising the Byzantines, whose navy was unable to react in time. The city walls, especially towards the sea, were in disrepair, while the city's two commanders issued conflicting orders. After a short siege, the Saracens were able to storm the seaward walls, overcome the Thessalonians' resistance and take the city on 29 July. The sacking continued for a full week, before the raiders departed for their bases in the Levant , having freed 4,000 Muslim prisoners while capturing 60 ships, and gaining a large loot and 22,000 captives, mostly young people. In the event, most of the captives, including John Kaminiates , who chronicled the sack, were ransomed by the Empire and exchanged for Muslim captives. Arab sources, confusing Thessalonica with Attaleia, erroneously report that Leo sacked the latter city. It is unknown if Leo was the head of the Arab fleet defeated by Himerios on St. Thomas' Day (6 October, probably in 906), but along with Damian of Tarsus he was in command of the Arab fleet that scored a major victory over Himerios in April 912 off Chios , while he was returning from a fruitless attempt to reconquer the Emirate of Crete. Finally, in 921/2, the imperial navy under the patrikios and droungarios John Rhadenos defeated Leo's fleet off Lemnos. Most of the Arab fleet was destroyed and Leo himself barely escaped. He disappears from the sources after this event. Damian (died 924), known in Arabic as Damyanah and surnamed Ghulam Yazman (" slave/page of Yazman"), was a Byzantine Greek convert to Islam , governor of Tarsus in 896–897 and one of the main leaders of naval raids against the Byzantine Empire in the early 10th century. Damian was a convert servant of the eunuch governor of Tarsus Yazman al-Khadim (died 891), who had recognized the overlordship of the Tulunids of Egypt under Ibn Tulun 's son Khumarawaih . In October 896, Damian was named governor of Tarsus by the then-governor Ahmad ibn Tughan. Yusuf al-Baghmardi was his deputy and commander of the military forces of the region. Damian and al-Baghmardi, however, were ousted from Tarsus in March/April 897 by a revolt of the pro- Abbasid faction of the city under Raghib, a former mawla of al-Muwaffaq. In 900, al-Tabari reports that Damian urged the Caliph al-Mu'tadid to burn the fleet of Tarsus, of over 50 large ships, as a revenge for his ouster three years before, a fact which greatly debilitated Muslim naval power. Nevertheless, it was as an admiral that Damian most distinguished himself. In 896 or more likely in 901, he sacked and plundered the port of Demetrias in Greece. Damian then participated in Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Katib's campaign in winter 904–905 that wrested Egypt from the Tulunids and restored it to Abbasid control; he led a fleet up the river Nile, raided its coasts, and prevented supplies for the Tulunid forces from being ferried over it. In 911, he attacked Cyprus , which since the 7th century had been a neutralized Arab-Byzantine condominium , and ravaged it for four months because its inhabitants had assisted a Byzantine fleet under admiral Himerios in attacking the Caliphate's coasts the year before. Finally, in October 912, along with the fellow-renegade Leo of Tripoli, he scored a decisive victory over Himerios off the island of Chios . In the summer of the same year, he is mentioned as accompanying the governor of the Cilician thughur , Rustam ibn Baradu, in an attack against the Byzantine frontier province of Lykandos and its Armenian governor Melias . Melias was besieged in his fortress, but the Arabs failed to take it. Damian died in 924 while leading an attack against the Byzantine fortress of Strobilos in the Cibyrrhaeot Theme . His death, along with the probable death of Leo of Tripoli the year before, brought the era of Muslim naval superiority and of constant raids against the Byzantine coasts to an end. Strobilos, modern Aspat or Çıfıt Kalesı , is a Byzantine-era fortress on the south-western Anatolian coast, across from the island of Kos and near modern Bodrum in Turkey . It is first mentioned in 724, making it one of the few known Anatolian localities to be established during the early Middle Ages and hence, according to researcher Clive Foss, "should reveal the appearance of a distinctively Byzantine site". It is best known as a place of exile, as well as an important fortress and naval base of the Cibyrrhaeot Theme , which was twice attacked by the Arabs , in 924 and 1035. The existence of a monastery on the site is also attested in the 11th century. The Cibyrrhaeot Theme , more properly the Theme of the Cibyrrhaeots was a Byzantine theme encompassing the southern coast of Asia Minor from the early 8th to the late 12th centuries. As the Byzantine Empire's first and most important naval theme, it served chiefly to provide ships and troops for the Byzantine navy. The Cibyrrhaeots (Κιβυρραιῶται, "men of Cibyrrha") derive their name from the city of Cibyrrha (it is unclear whether this is Cibyrrha the Great in Caria or Cibyrrha the Lesser in Pamphylia ). The command first appears in the expedition against Carthage in 698, when a "droungarios of the Cibyrrhaeots" is attested as commanding the men from Korykos: Apsimar, who at the head of a fleet revolt became emperor as Tiberios III (r. 698–705). At the time, the Cibyrrhaeots were subordinate to the great naval corps of the Karabisianoi. After the Karabisianoi were disbanded (the exact date is disputed between ca. 719/720 and ca. 727), the Cibyrrhaeots were constituted as a regular theme, with its governing strategos first attested in 731/732. Until the 9th century, when the themes of the Aegean Sea and Samos were elevated from droungarios -level commands, the Cibyrrhaeot Theme was the only dedicated naval theme of the Empire. The theme comprised the southern coast of Asia Minor (modern Turkey ), from south of Miletus (which belonged to the Thracesian Theme ) to the confines of the Arab borderlands in Cilicia , including the old Roman provinces of Caria , Lycia, Pamphylia and parts of Isauria , as well as the modern Dodecanese. Its geographical position made it the "front-line" theme facing the attacks of the Muslim fleets of the Levant and Egypt , and consequently the Cibyrrhaeots played a major role in the naval aspect of the Byzantine–Arab Wars. The land, which was known for its fertility, suffered from the frequent and devastating Arab raids, which largely depopulated the countryside except for the fortified cities and naval bases. The seat of the strategos was most probably Attaleia. He drew an annual salary of 10 pounds of gold, and his overall rank in the imperial hierarchy was relatively low, but still senior to any other naval commander: twenty-fifth in the Taktikon Uspensky of 842/843, dropping to fifty-fifth in the Escorial Taktikon of 971–975. Like its other counterparts, the Cibyrrhaeot Theme was divided into droungoi and tourmai, and possessed the full array of typical thematic administrative positions. Among the most important subordinates of the strategos were the imperial ek prosopou at Syllaion, the droungarioi of Attaleia and Kos and the katepano who commanded the theme's Mardaites. These were the descendants of several thousand people transplanted from the area of Lebanon and settled there by Emperor Justinian II (r. 685–695 and 705–711) in the 680s to provide crews and marines for the fleet. In the early 9th century, the thematic fleet of the Cibyrrhaeots comprised 70 ships; and in the Cretan expedition of 911, the Cibyrrhaeot theme sent 31 warships 15 large dromons and 16 middle-sized pamphyloi with 6,000 oarsmen and 760 marines. Around the mid-11th century, as the Muslim naval threat subsided, the Byzantine provincial fleets began a precipitate decline.