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The sack of Thessalonica in 904, from the Madrid Skylitzes.

Leo of Tripoli (Greek: Λέων ὸ Τριπολίτης) was a Greek renegade and pirate serving Arab interests in the early tenth century.

Leo was born in or near Attaleia, the capital of the maritime Cibyrrhaeot Theme, and was captured in an Arab raid. In captivity, he converted to Islam and placed his considerable maritime experience in the service of his captors.[1] His Arabic name was Rašīq al-Wardāmī (رشيق الوردامي), but he is more commonly known in Arab sources by his sobriquet, Ġulām Zurāfa (غلام زرافة), "servant of Zurafa", evidently the name of his first Muslim master. Alexander Vasiliev interpreted the element Wardāmī to mean that Leo was a Mardaite.[2]

On 31 July 904, Leo sacked Antâliya, the great Byzantine city of Thessalonica, freeing 4,000 Muslim prisoners while capturing 60 ships;[3] and gaining a large loot and 22,000 captives (mostly young people), an event ostensibly recorded by John Kaminiates.[4] In 907, gathering a fleet from Tarsus and Laodicea,disambiguation needed he sailed up the Dardanelles and threatened the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople. In May 912, Leo and his fellow apostate Damian of Tarsus defeated Himerios, the logothete of the Drome, in retaliation for an attack on some Cypriot Arabs. Finally, in 923, the imperial navy under the patrikios John Rhadenos defeated Leo's fleet off Lemnos. Leo disappears after this event, possibly implying that he was killed during the battle.


  1. Vasiliev (1968), p. 163
  2. Vasiliev (1968), p. 163 (Note 2)
  3. Faith and sword: a short history of Christian-Muslim conflict By Alan G. Jamieson, pg.32
  4. cf. the account of John Kaminiates


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