Officials: Islamic State arose from US support for al-Qaeda in Iraq

Nafeez Ahmed
Aug 13, 2015 · 17 min read

A former Pentagon intelligence chief, Iraqi government sources, and a retired career US diplomat reveal US complicity in the rise of ISIS

by Nafeez Ahmed

This exclusive is published by INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a new crowd-funded investigative journalism project

Pentagon intel chief speaks out

Everyday brings new horror stories about atrocities committed by ISIS fighters. Today, for instance, the New York Times offered a deeply disturbing report on how ISIS has formally adopted a theology and policy of systematic rape of non-Muslim women and children. The practice has become embedded throughout the territories under ISIS control through a process of organized slavery, sanctioned by the movement’s own religious scholars.

Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, former Director of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), in a lengthy interview with Al-Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan

“My job was to ensure that the accuracy of our intelligence that was being presented was as good as it could be, and I will tell you, it goes before 2012. When we were in Iraq, and we still had decisions to be made before there was a decision to pull out of Iraq in 2011, it was very clear what we were going to face.”

In other words, long before the inception of the armed insurrection in Syria — as early as 2008 (the year in which the final decision was made on full troop withdrawal by the Bush administration) — US intelligence was fully aware of the threat posed by al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) among other Islamist militant groups.

Supporting the enemy

Despite this, Flynn’s account shows that the US commitment to supporting the Syrian insurgency against Bashir al-Assad led the US to deliberately support the very al-Qaeda affiliated forces it had previously fought in Iraq.

“I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business. I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria.”

Former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas on French national television confirming information received from UK Foreign Office officials in 2009 regarding operations in Syria

“The winner in the convoluted process has been everyone who wants to see a civil war.”

By Flynn’s account, US intelligence was also aware in 2008 that the empowerment of former al-Qaeda insurgents would eventually backfire and strengthen AQI in the long-run, especially given that the Shi’a dominated US-backed central government continued to discriminate against Sunni populations.

Syriana

Having provided extensive support for former al-Qaeda affiliated Sunni insurgents in Iraq from 2006 to 2008 — in order to counter AQI — US forces did succeed in temporarily routing AQI from its strongholds in the country.

Reversing the surge

During this period in which the US, the Gulf states, and Turkey supported Syrian insurgents linked to AQI and the Muslim Brotherhood, AQI experienced an unprecedented resurgence.

Image for post
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A Free Syrian Army fighter rests inside a cave at a rebel camp in Idlib, Syria on 17th September 2013. As of April 2015, moderate FSA rebels in Idlib have been supplanted by a US-backed rebel coalition led by Jabhut al-Nusra, al-Qaeda in Syria

Advanced warning

In February 2014, Lt. Gen. Flynn delivered the annual DIA threat assessment to the Senate Armed Services Committee. His testimony revealed that rather than coming out of the blue, as the Obama administration claimed, US intelligence had anticipated the ISIS attack on Iraq.

“It was well known at the time that ISIS were beginning serious plans to attack Iraq. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey played a key role in supporting ISIS at this time, but the UAE played a bigger role in financial support than the others, which is not widely recognized.”

When asked whether the Americans had attempted to coordinate with Iraq on preparations for the expected ISIS assault, particularly due to the recognized inability of the Iraqi army to withstand such an attack, the senior Iraqi official said that nothing had happened:

Vicious cycle

This is hardly the first time political decisions in Washington have blocked US intelligence agencies from pursuing investigations of terrorist activity, and scuppered their crackdowns on high-level state benefactors of terrorist groups.

INSURGE intelligence

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Nafeez Ahmed

Written by

Systems journalist. Crowdfunding investigations: http://patreon.com/nafeez

INSURGE intelligence

We are crowdfunding adversarial investigations into power, to empower people and save the planet. Join us via www.patreon.com/nafeez

Nafeez Ahmed

Written by

Systems journalist. Crowdfunding investigations: http://patreon.com/nafeez

INSURGE intelligence

We are crowdfunding adversarial investigations into power, to empower people and save the planet. Join us via www.patreon.com/nafeez

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