Former Saddam officer masterminded rise of ISIS terror group: Report

Iraqi soldiers march during a graduation ceremony in Baghdad, Nov. 18, 2014. Photo by REUTERS

BERLIN, Germany (Rudaw) – The systematic takeover of Syria and Iraq by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) was meticulously planned by a former Iraqi intelligence officer, according to documents that Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine said it had obtained.

In a report titled “The Terror Strategist: Secret Files Reveal the Structure of Islamic State,” the magazine said it obtained 31 pages of the “blueprint” drawn up by Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi, a former colonel in Saddam Hussein’s air intelligence department. It said he went underground in Syria after the dictator was ousted in 2003.

Under the pseudonym Haji Bakr, he was the mastermind behind the miraculous ISIS takeover first of a third of Syria, and about as much as Iraq last summer, the magazine said.

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

“The Islamic State rapidly conquered huge swaths of Syria and Iraq. From afar, the group appears to be made up of religious fanatics and Islamist extremists. But a former senior Iraqi officer named Haji Bakr planned the group’s siege in Syria. His plan was cool and calculating,” Spiegel said.

It has long been known that former officers from Saddam’s military have been the masterminds behind ISIS, which is an al-Qaeda offshoot.

Iraqi officials said before the weekend that Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, a former Saddam general and his right-hand man, was killed in fighting in Salahaddan province, north of Baghdad. Douri’s insurgent Naqshbandi Order was a key force behind the recent rise of ISIS.