ISIS Makes New Friends, Gives Hints of What's to Come

ISIS supporters say they now have the support of other al Qaida groups in the region, including Ansar al-Islam in Kirkuk and Ramadi, and at least some members of Jabhat al-Nusra. It's holding another celebratory parade in Haweija.

Syria, on the other hand, is not making friends with its air strikes. More than 50 civilians, including children were killed. Nor is Malaki, who says he supports Syria's efforts. At least the U.S. has expressed its displeasure.

ISIS/al-Qaida supporters hint the group won't be targeting Jordan or Saudi Arabia. It's next move will be in Lebanon. [More...]

Looks like the State Department has had ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on its "kill or capture" list at least since last August. From an official announcement:

The United States has offered a $10 million reward for information that helps authorities kill or capture Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This reward is second only to information leading to Ayman al-Zawahiri, the chief of Al Qaeda’s network, and symbolizes our ongoing commitment to helping our partners in the region eliminate this threat from their territory. (my emphasis.)

He's also a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224 and listed at the United Nations Security Council 1267/1989 al-Qa'ida Sanctions Committee, and of course, wanted by Interpol.

I've just now started reading about Abu Bakr because the ISIS accounts I read on Twitter don't talk about him much, and I'm more interested in following events as they happen than reading bios of current or former leaders. But, now that I have read some accounts of him, I find it odd that these three photos are all supposed to be him. The first two don't look like the same person to me.

There's lots of disagreement about his "pedigree" and background. There's even some question about whether he exists, or is a composite of several persons. (I wouldn't be surprised if that turns out to be the case.) He doesn't appear in videos, he doesn't show his face, and reportedly, only two pictures of him exist. Here's another one I found yesterday, via Iraqi Witness, who says it is of Abu Bakr and his son Osama.

There seems to be general agreement that he was appointed leader of Al Qaida in Iraq after the death of the prior leader, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi in 2010. But in 2007, the U.S. military announced that Abu Omar was fictional -- an actor playing the part of a leader. It says it learned this during the post-arrest interrogation of another member of the group. It said his name was Abu Abdullah al Naima. Iraqi officials disagreed, and identified him as a former Iraqi army officer named Hamed Dawood Mohammed Khalil al Zawi. In any event, Abu Omar, whoever he was, was killed in 2010, and Abu Bakr took over as head of the Islamic State of Iraq.

In 2011, Abu Bakr announced the formation of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham). He moved back and forth between Iraq and Syria. When Al Qaida's Ayman al-Zawahiri told him he should stick to Iraq, Isis responded that it never swore allegiance to Zawahiri's group, only to al Qaida, so he shouldn't tell ISIS what to do.

Most sources agree Abu Bakr's real name is Awwad Ibrahim al-Badri al-Samarri or Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badr, that he was born in 1971, and that he was imprisoned at Camp Bucca in Iraq in 2004. He was a civilian internee according to the Defense Department, and not held there long. He had a hearing and was released by December of 2004, but whether he was set free or transferred to Iraqi custody is unclear. If he was held until 2009, it was by Iraq, not the U.S., and contrary to claims by Fox News, his transfer order would have occurred under Bush, not Obama. Punditfact contacted the Pentagon to find out:

When PunditFact asked the Defense Department to confirm the story, officials there said Baghdadi was released in 2004, not 2009.

"Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Al Badry, also known as ‘Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’ was held as a ‘civilian internee’ by U.S. Forces-Iraq from early February 2004 until early December 2004, when he was released," the Pentagon said in a statement. "He was held at Camp Bucca. A Combined Review and Release Board recommended ‘unconditional release’ of this detainee and he was released from U.S. custody shortly thereafter. We have no record of him being held at any other time."

About those hashtags predicting "calamity" if the U.S. steps in: They are being retweeted by ISIS supporters but are not associated with any official ISIS account as far as I can tell. Which means, they could also be a plant by pro-war U.S. groups to ramp up fear. "Calamity" sounds like something Auntie Em would say in Wizard of Oz, and I'm not buying it.

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  • Display: Sort:
    You are doing a real service (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 04:36:59 PM EST
    By helping to understand this

    Iffy (none / 0) (#1)
    by koshembos on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 04:27:15 PM EST
    Two months ago ISIS meant many other things than today. The US media hasn't seen any danger coming out of the Syrian chaos. People in Middle East or from there saw a war between the Shia and the Sunni in Syria and Iraq with Lebanon to a lesser degree.

    Two months later, experts on ISIS abound. They simply know everything there is to know. Judging anything based on such a short period of time lacks credibility.

    For instance, why would ISIS go to fight Hezbollah in Lebanon? Hezbollah's military dwarfs tiny ISIS. Currently, ISIS may be a real danger to the area or just a flash in the pan.

    It seems to me that Obama is (none / 0) (#12)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 10:43:28 AM EST
    running an outfit called the CIA that is supposed to be telling him what is going on and not the media...


    Never mind.


    You mean like when Bush ... (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by Yman on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 07:59:01 PM EST
    ... was "running an outfit called the CIA" on September 10, 2001?  Or when he was "running an outfit called the CIA" while ignoring reports indicating no evidence of WMDs?



    Still baloney (none / 0) (#16)
    by Mikado Cat on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 11:51:36 PM EST
    Even the same baloney. Blame Bush, compare to Bush, lie about CIA reports, feel good about the dear leader. Its that I guess or face reality.

    Obama accepts no dissent, disagree, have an alternate point of view and get retired or fired.


    Why is it off limits (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by MKS on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 08:49:56 AM EST
    to look to the immediate historical precedent?   Oh noise, we can't blame Bush and Cheney??

    The hawks today were the hawks of yesterday who were wrong about the same area of the world.  Reminding ourselves just how wrong they were is important to emphasize just how stupid and wrong the critics were.


    That IS baloney (none / 0) (#18)
    by Yman on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 08:46:00 AM EST
    Not to mention baseless, specious, irrelevant ...

    ... as usual.


    ... what's going on in the region that you do, that's for sure. All you offer is half-a$$ed recycled snark.

    So many stories about him (none / 0) (#3)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 05:46:15 PM EST
    Who to believe?  And if the knowers can't make up their minds about the leader, who he is, where he came from, why I should anyone believe anything else they claim to know about this group?

    What a bunch of BS!

    al-Naba, the ISIS annual report (none / 0) (#4)
    by Green26 on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 07:38:27 PM EST
    400 pages. Look at it, or the summaries of it, on the internet for some interesting reading. Lots of info on ISIS there. Published March 31, 2014 by ISIS. understandingwar.org has it.

    I read somewhere that ISIS had grown out of Al Qaeda of Iraq, but can't found the source now.

    Jeralyn posted it days ago (none / 0) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 07:46:12 PM EST
    What was the article, (none / 0) (#7)
    by Green26 on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 10:18:22 PM EST
    and who either wrote it or was the source? The article I read  was either written by, or included quotes from, someone who was know to have expertise or been involved years ago. Just can't think who it was (in the article I read).

    you can find english versions of (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 10:43:33 PM EST
    the ISIS news reports at Jihadology here. Al Hayat is their media publisher. These are the only offical ISIS statements. There are four reports so far, and they explain everything ISIS is doing and why.
    I've summarized them in my posts, but you should definitely read for yourself.

    Acutally, ISIS is a (none / 0) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 11:30:11 PM EST
    successor to Al Qaida in Iraq. AQI was started around 2004 by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. It then  became the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in 2006 after Zarqawi was killed. In 2008, it became ISIS. You can read about the creation and shift according to different experts here and

    For the primary source materials  from the groups themselves, mostly with translations, go to Jihadology. All their downloads are pdf and safe.

    For the U.S. version of what it expected from the group in 2014, try the Feb. 2014 Congressional Testimony of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk before the Foreign Affairs Committee. It's available here.

    Interpol's chronology as to Abu Bakr is here.

    The one expert I don't recommend is the one who began as the "Doogie Howswer of Terrorism." If you read a few of the Daubert challenges to his testimony, you'll understand why.


    Thanks for the ISIS summary and resources (none / 0) (#11)
    by Green26 on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 09:35:01 AM EST
    Al Qaeda of Iraq was defeated and pushed out of Iraq following the Surge and Sunni Awakening. Not noticeable by 2010 or 2011. Obviously, they weren't all killed and went to other places, like Syria.

    After the US pulled out of Iraq, Maliki quit following the Iraqi constitution (inclusion), the Sunni sheiks of the Sunni Awakening were no longer paid, and Maliki et al started coming after the Sunnis and Sunni sheiks again.

    My concern with ISIS is that, while small in number, it is well armed, strong and apparently organized. It is now also well-funded, having gotten to banks in Mosul and other areas of Iraq. It has also grabbed alot of weapons in Iraq, including US weapons.

    I can't imagine that ISIS can control the territory it has taken, without the locals supporting them. Can't tell what the locals really think of them.

    Iraq may be headed towards becoming 3 countries. I suppose that might not be all bad. As the Kurds solidify and gain territory and oil, I hope they don't upset stability in Turkey.


    Stable maybe (none / 0) (#17)
    by Mikado Cat on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 12:16:31 AM EST
    Good or bad depends on your perspective.

    NPR had an interview with a Sunni tribal leader that said he was proud to have family fighting with ISIS against the government, and that Maliki had to go. Once that happened he thought ISIS would dissolve as the tribes pulled their forces out. Hard to guess what will happen other than guns will mean more than votes for a LONG time and billions in oil are up for grabs.


    Unfortunately, most of those billions will be (2.00 / 0) (#21)
    by Mr Natural on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 10:32:11 AM EST
    spent on arms, so they can continue killing each other, great for America's preeminent position in death merchantry, but bad for the poor bastards who live there.

    Yes, ISIS is Sunni (none / 0) (#6)
    by MKS on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 08:13:09 PM EST
    outgrowth of al Qaeda.

    And, yes, Iran would send the Quds forces in to protect Baghdad.


    If they're going to... (none / 0) (#10)
    by unitron on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 02:34:29 AM EST
    ...start some "bleep" in Lebanon, then my remark the other day about "How far will Iran go? Oh, I dunno, maybe all the way to Meggido?" may not be all that far off the mark after all.

    Lebanon. How wonderful. (none / 0) (#14)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 01:47:59 PM EST
    Beirut is marvelous at this time of year, and I'm sure that Israel will probably have something to say about their plans, as well. And the hits just keep on playin' ...

    Calamity... (none / 0) (#20)
    by unitron on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 08:10:18 AM EST
    ...could be just an artifact of translation and nothing more.

    Which is not to say that the neocons won't try to lie us into another war because oil.

    Just that this may or may not be part of it.