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The New Iraqi Monster America Helped Make
Posted on Aug 11, 2014
A New York Times article glimpses America’s role in creating the leader of ISIS—the violent Islamic group “redraw[ing] the map of the Middle East”—and confirms the line by English poet W.H. Auden: “Those to whom evil is done Do evil in return.”
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “was a street thug when we picked him up in 2004,” said an anonymous Pentagon official quoted in the article published Sunday. American forces “picked up” al-Baghdadi, then a “hanger-on” in his early 30s, the paper reports, in a raid on a home near Fallujah “during the turbulent 2004 offensive against the Iraqi Sunni insurgency.”
“It’s hard to imagine we could have had a crystal ball then that would tell us he’d become head of ISIS,” the official added.
The Times states in a crucial passage:
The paper goes on to state that Baghdadi grew up in a poor community of Sufis—a strain of Islam known for its tolerance—in a farming village near the town of Samarra. He went on to become a mosque preacher and earn a doctorate in Islamic studies from a university in Baghdad in the 1990s, during which time he became radicalized. Iraqi scholar Hisham al-Hashimi, who researched Baghdadi’s life, says Baghdadi’s views hardened over a period of five years he spent in an American detention facility.
The article concludes with a grim statement by Brett McGurk, a top State Department official on Iraqi policy. At present Baghdadi commands not just a terrorist organization, but “a full blown army,” McGurk said. Speaking at a recent congressional hearing, he warned: “It is worse than Al Qaeda.”
Read more here, and read part of Patrick Cockburn’s harrowing account of the rise of ISIS, published in the Mideast correspondent for The Independent’s new book, “The Jihadis Return: Isis and the New Sunni Uprising,” here.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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