The story started after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, when a 36-year-old Jordanian man called himself “the Stranger” shown in Iraq with his arms, money and a dream. The Stranger — soon to be known widely as Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi — came to Iraq with his adventurous dream that was starting a war he thought it would unite Sunni Muslims in the Middle East. High numbers of foreign fighters (Sunni Muslims) came to Iraq from all over the world to join together with Iraqis to stand together behind“the Stranger”.
Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi rapidly launched bloody suicide bombings and horrible executions targeting Americans, Shia Muslims and others he saw as obstacles to his dream in creating a Sunni caliphate across areas of Iraq, Syria and Persian Gulf. Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2006, but of course not all of his followers died with him. Thousands of foreign volunteers have since joined, some from Europe and the United States, who are streaming into Syria to wage what they call “jihad”.
When U.S. troops left Iraq, Iraqi officials began to speak of a “third generation” of al Qaeda in Iraq, and after almost 2 years, a former spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, warned that “if the Iraqi security forces are not able to put pressure on them, they could regenerate.”
What formerly known as “al-Qaeda in Iraq” was the terrorist organization “the Stranger” founded, so the new al Qaeda was rebranded in 2006 as the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI), then it adds “and Syria” (Levant) to its name later. The last “s” of “Isis” comes from the Arabic word “al-Sham”, meaning Levant, Syria or occasionally Damascus. (The name in Arabic is Daa’sh).
While its accurate size is still unclear, ISIS is thought to include thousands of extreme fighters (some sources say 3,000 to 5,000 fighters but others think there are many more). ISIS terrorists now control many parts of territory that stretches from the countryside of the Syrian city of Aleppo to the Iraqi city of Fallujah.
This came after ISIS already taken over Ramadi and Mosul, but taking over Mosul is considered a far greater feat than anything this organization had achieved since the group’s Iraqi leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced their presence in Syria and started recruiting across the northern and eastern parts of Syria that were under control of so-called “rebels”.
The next leader to ISIS was Abu Bakr al Baghdadi who took his job in 2010, at the age of 39, after Abu Omar al Baghdadi was killed in a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation in April, 2010.
What most people don’t know is that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (also known as Abu Dua) was once held by the US in Camp Bucca Iraq, but the Obama administration shut down the Bucca prison camp and released its prisoners, including Abu Dua in 2009. “Democracy Now” website reported this on the closing of Camp Bucca in 2009:
“The US meanwhile has closed Camp Bucca, once its largest prison in Iraq. The Pentagon says it’s transferred Bucca’s remaining 180 prisoners to two jails near Baghdad. US Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth King said the prison’s closure comes as part of the US-Iraq security deal. Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth King: “As a show of progress for the security agreement and moving forward the government of Iraq, we’re going to put the theater internment facility as a piece of history. And we’re going to — it will be history, and we’ll move forward from here and progress.”
Their generated many questions about the real relationship between US administration and the ISIS, as many consider it a terrorist organization supported covertly by the US and its allies in ME region (especially Saudi Arabic and Turkey).
ISIS in Iraq
ISIS is using foreign volunteers (especially those who are not well trained) as suicide bombers, with them moving either on foot wearing suicide vests, or driving vehicles packed with explosives. Often more than one suicide bomber is used, as happened when a vehicle exploded at the headquarters of the Kurdish party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, in the town of Jalawla in Diyala, north-east of Baghdad. In the confusion caused by the blast, a second bomber on foot slipped into the office and blew himself up, caused the death of 18 people, including a senior police officer. When ISIS entered Mosul, staff working there said that all official buildings there have been taken over, including police and military bases, and the airport. Also, a Turkish official said 48 people, including the head of the diplomatic mission, had been seized by ISIS in Mosul.
Thousands left Mosul and headed to Kurdistan and other Iraqi cities.
But many Sunni residents inside Mosul reported being glad to be rid of the “Shia government security forces” and expressed their happiness with life under the control of ISIS fighters. Other said that ISIS is buying time to multiply its control and get Sunni support. On Friday, a tweet on what was claimed to be an ISIS Twitter account claimed that its members killed at least 1,700 Shiites. ISIS announced it had slaughtered 1,700 Shia soldiers in the city of Tikrit.
The U.S. State Department condemned the crime, saying “The claim by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that it has massacred 1700 Iraqi Shia air force recruits in Tikrit is horrifying and a true depiction of the bloodlust that these terrorists represent.”
In fact, ISIS’s social-media sites are filled with brutal images of radical terrorists carrying out public executions and amputations on suspected lawbreakers and beheading and mutilating fighters or people they said they are supporters to governments (Syria or Iraq) — and even members of rival militia groups.
ISIS in Syria
In Syria, ISIS declared the city of Raqqah as the capital of its state, after it gained control over the province in late 2013. It moderates courts, schools and services, raising its black-and-white flag over every building it controls. They also launched a consumer protection authority to uphold food standards recently in Raqqah. In the Syrian city of Deir al-Zour, ISIS appears to control important resources like oil fields. That’s what they also did in Iraq, as they look for more sources of financing. ISIS has begun applying Sharia law (which covers both religious and non-religious aspects of life) in the areas it controls. Boys and girls must be separated at school; women must wear the niqab or full veil in public. Sharia courts often dispense brutal justice, music is not allowed and the fast is lawfully enforced during Ramadan. ISIS’s harsh acts, including the barbarian imposition of what they call “Islamic punishments” such as mutilating, beheadings and cutting off bodies, have aroused large resentment among many Syrians living under its control. This is all a radical development as last January the ISIS faced a serious setback when other terrorist groups (particularly Al-Nusra) rose up against it and ejected its fighters from many parts of northern Syrian cities of Idlib and Aleppo. Right now, the ISIS’s control stretches until right outside Baghdad having just assaulted and shortly gained control of Baqouba, and no one knows what will come next.