SAN FRANCISCO (press release)—As if the truth wasn’t known, it was reported Friday that many of the top leaders of the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS) were members of brutal Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s inner circle, The Washington Post reports. Yet despite large numbers of foreign fighters, members of Iraq’s former Hussein-backed Baathist army indeed comprise a majority of ISIS’s military and security committees.
Their experience is invaluable for their knowledge. They are outmaneuvering the Iraqi and American militaries. The networks they developed for overcoming sanctions through smuggling are now helping ISIS with its oil trade. Even in Syria, the local ISIS officials followed by an Iraqi deputy making the major decisions.
Aby Hamza told the Post, “All the decision makers are Iraqi, and most of them are former Iraqi officers. The Iraqi officers are in command, and they make the tactics and the battle plans. But the Iraqis themselves don’t fight. They put the foreign fighters on the front lines.”
The Baathist members gravitated to ISIS after the American invasion of 2003. The Iraqi forces were barred from government employment and pensions, but were allowed to keep their weapons. They responded to the recruitment pleas of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Hassan Hassan, a Dubai-based analyst and co-author of the book “ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror” wrote, “A lot of people think of the Islamic State as a terrorist group, and it’s not useful. It is a terrorist group, but it is more than that. It is a homegrown Iraqi insurgency, and it is organic to Iraq.”
Even though the strict Islamic dogma of ISIS appears at odds with the secular rule of Saddam, nevertheless the Iraqi government had actually already been moving toward a form of religious rule right after the first Iraq War in the early 1990s.
According to Hassan, “They pray and they fast and you can’t be an emir without praying, but inside I don’t think they believe it much. They just want power. They are used to being in power, and they want it back,” he told the Post.