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What Saddam Gave ISIS…

What Saddam Gave ISIS

Newly unearthed documents shed light on the foundations of the terror group—and the crucial role Baathists played in organizing and directing a strategy for its future “caliphate.”

The infiltration in the winter of 2013 was insidious in the small rural towns circling Aleppo—Tel Rifat, al-Bab, and Marea. The men stood out when you bumped into them on the streets of the towns recently liberated from the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. They were more disciplined than local rebels; they dressed more neatly, their beards were trimmed. But they held themselves apart from the other rebels, and questions from Western reporters about who they were and what they were doing went unanswered.

In hindsight, this was the beginning in northern Syria of ISIS, and the men who were all too often taken by the locals to be members of al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra were in fact preparing the ground to replace their fellow jihadists and to lay the foundations for a caliphate.

New documents unearthed by Der Spiegel journalist Christoph Reuter shed light on the furtive early plotting in Syria that laid the groundwork for ISIS’s caliphate. The files Reuter discovered add to an understanding of ISIS that has evolved, often without a full picture coming into focus.

In the immediate wake of the departure of government forces from the small northern Syrian towns and villages in the winter of 2013, there was considerable chaos. Each town struggled to establish some governance structure. There was scant command and control of the motley rebel militias who were now focused on securing districts that insurgents captured in Aleppo, and there was a lot of corruption and lawlessness, with aid and arms supplies pilfered. Disputes rose over the sharing of weapons and equipment seized from government barracks and bases. More

HT: Elizabeth Hawkes

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