Friday, September 11, 2015

lives matter when you're hard, skilled, organized, disciplined and motivated enough to make them matter

guardian |  One of Saddam Hussein’s former intelligence officers masterminded Islamic State’s takeover of northern Syria after becoming embittered by the US-led invasion of Iraq, according to a report by the German magazine Der Spiegel

Documents uncovered in Syria reveal meticulous planning for the group’s structure and organisation, the report says, with the 31 pages of handwritten charts, lists and schedules amounting to a blueprint for the establishment of a caliphate in Syria.

The documents were the work of a man identified by the magazine as Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi, a former colonel in the intelligence service of Saddam Hussein’s air defence force, who went by the pseudonym Haji Bakr, Spiegel says.

The files suggest that the takeover of northern Syria was part of a meticulous plan overseen by Haji Bakr using techniques – including surveillance, espionage, murder and kidnapping – honed in the security apparatus of Saddam Hussein.

Bakr was “bitter and unemployed” after the US authorities in Iraq disbanded the army by decree in 2003, the article says. Between 2006 to 2008 he was reportedly in US detention facilities, including Abu Ghraib prison.

The Iraqi national was reportedly killed in a firefight with Syrian rebels in January 2014, but not before he had helped secure swathes of Syria, which in turn strengthened Islamic State’s position in neighbouring Iraq.

“What Bakr put on paper, page by page, with carefully outlined boxes for individual responsibilities, was nothing less than a blueprint for a takeover,” the story by Spiegel reporter Christoph Reuter says.
“It was not a manifesto of faith, but a technically precise plan for an ‘Islamic Intelligence State’ – a caliphate run by an organisation that resembled East Germany’s notorious Stasi domestic intelligence agency.”

Between 2006 to 2008, Bakr was reportedly in US detention facilities, including Abu Ghraib prison.
In 2010, however, Bakr and a small group of former Iraqi intelligence officers made another former US detainee, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the official leader of Islamic State, with the goal of giving the group a “religious face”, the report says.

Two years later, the magazine says, Bakr travelled to northern Syria to oversee his takeover plan, choosing to launch it with a collection of foreign fighters that included novice militants from Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Europe alongside battle-tested Chechens and Uzbeks.

Iraqi journalist Hisham al-Hashimi, whose cousin served with Bakr, describes the former officer as a nationalist rather than an Islamist. The report argues that the secret to Islamic State’s success lies in its combination of opposites – the fanatical beliefs of one group and the strategic calculations of another, led by Bakr.

Spiegel said it had obtained the papers after lengthy negotiations with rebels in the Syrian city of Aleppo, who had seized them when Islamic State was forced to abandon its headquarters there in early 2014.