ISIS – the formation.

By Kazim Mohamed.

Today, the world knows a lot about the violent and extremist ‘Islamic’ terrorist organisation – ISIS. ISIS or ISIL basically stands for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or as now they call themselves Da’esh (acronym for al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham). Yes, we hear a lot about them; their barbaric beheadings and their brutal suicide bombings together with mass grave killings. But, the question arises, do we really know how they were founded? Do we know how they came into existence? In the coming paragraphs, we might, inshaAllah, get an insight on their core basic foundations and radical views. Please be informed that the opinions and sentimets you’ll read soon are from what I’ve researched extensively and they do not entail to hurt or cause any type of inconvenience.

Everyone’s enemy.

After the US led invasion in Iraq, many events transpired. With the help of  US special forces, the Iraqi revolution was successful in its own way. The Ba’athist led government was along with the president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein toppled successfully. The fact that Saddam brought economical improvement to Iraq, his hatred towards anyone going against his will was something that he disliked, thus, his hatred for the Shia population was ever rising. He had killed many Shias in Baghdad, Mosul and Karbala – bombarding the Holy Shrine of  Abbas Ibn Ali and later slaughtering thousands of Shias INSIDE the holy mosque. Saddam’s regime killed, detained and deported tens of thousands (almost 50,000) Shia Feylis early in the Iran-Iraq war. Some were used in his chemical experiments. After he was overthrown, a rule emerged. Many were removed from office making unemployment ever increasing. One of the key factors to the formation of ISIS was when the Bush administration ‘fired’ roughly 250,000 Iraqi government army members/officials, most of them being from Sunni tribes.

Iraqis bring down the famous Saddam statue which was erected to honor him on his 65th birthday in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, in Jordan, a short, squat man named Ahmad Fadhil Nazzal al-Khalaylah from a Sunni populated tribe had some other plans for himself. He would later rename himself Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. You’ll see soon what a bastard of a person he was. Al Zarqawi (20 October 1966- 7 June 2006), born in Zarqa, was a young, aggressive and bellicose pimp who would sell prostitutes for a living. He was a high school dropout and was really fond in petty crimes. As a teenager, al-Zarqawi had been a bully and a thug. Reports also suggested that he was a heavy drinker (too much for being Islamic eh?). He had green tattoos all over his body.  In 1989, at the age of 23, Al Zarqawi traveled to Afghanistan to meet Osama Bin Laden and in general to join the Al-Qaeda Al Mujahideen. After meeting Bin Laden, he conveyed a strong message. A message that Osama was surprised to hear. He told him he wanted to cause a civil war between the Shias and Sunnis (in Iraq) hence to exterminate the Shias. Bin Laden was not impressed by the proposals set out by Al Zarqawi, thus, he left for Jordan. In his hometown, he started his own local military camp called Jund Al Sham where he would recruit young and fresh minds. Upon the formation of his militia group, he was jailed after Jordanian officials intercepted and seized arms in his safe house. In jail, he became rather popular with the inmates. He went on to learn a lot about the war on terror, the ‘Jihad’ modules and he was also in contact with many of the radical extremists who were jailed for being ‘Jihadists’. Al Zarqawi went on to become a key person in the prison where he was seen as a leader. He wanted power. He wanted dominance. He wanted to establish a caliphate where he was seen as the main authority. To do this, he had to ‘purify’ himself in order to impress Bin Laden. To straighten himself up, he had his companions in prison peel off his skin so as to remove the tattoos which were seen as un-Islamic to Bin Laden and the population in general. Al Zarqawi was then released from prison in 1999. This meant he could resurrect Jund Al Sham (his militia). Some time later, Al Zarqawi fled to Afghanistan where he met up with Bin Laden, again, but now for assistance and support. Bin Laden offered a sum of $200,000 as seed money for him to set up his military camp in Herat (Afghanistan). Al Zarqawi, with that money, continued building his military camp and recruited people from Syria and Iraq with ease. He had less difficulty attracting the Sunni fighters from disaffected tribes, most of them had less or no money to support their families and most of them had arms stolen from the crackdown between Saddam and the US. Thousands joined his camp within days, mostly Sunnis who wanted to overthrow Shia prime minister, Al Maliki and consequently the Shia led government in Baghdad. With the sole purpose of causing mayhem and havoc in Iraq and the possibility of wiping off the Shia population, Al Zarqawi started his wild and horrific expedition.

Al Zarqawi commenced his evil master plan by plotting the 2000 millennium attacks. 4 attacks would simultaneously occur; the bombing of 4 tourist sites in Jordan, against the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and the USS navy The Sullivan’s and the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 814. The aftermath of these attacks gained Al Zarqawi international recognition making him one of the most wanted man together with Osama Bin Laden. Al Zarqawi’s next focus was attacking Iraq. After the fall of Baghdad in April 2003, Al Zarqawi  unleashed a wave of bombing attacks in Iraq aimed at stirring hatred between Sunnis and Shias. He sent a chilling message to the world, “You will see nothing from us except corpse after corpse and casket after casket of those slaughtered in this fashion.”

Al Zarqawi appearing on a video where he says, “..corpse after corpse and casket after casket of those slaughtered in this fashion.”

Some of the brutal acts induced by Al Zarqawi with the endorsement of Al Qaeda are as follows :

  • August 2003 – Al Zarqawi along with his military group bombed the Canal Hotel where he targeted the UN officials. The suicide bombing resulted into the death of 22 people. Shortly after this, another attack was carried out in the UN headquarters leading to the death of one guard. The consequence of these attacks were a major drawback for Iraq. These attacks prompted the withdrawal of 600 UN staff and hundreds of NGO/not for profit organisations.
The Canal Hotel minutes after it was bombed leaving 22 dead.
  •  May 2004 – a video published by Al Qaeda shows Al Zarqawi personally beheading American entrepreneur Nicholas Berg. Zarqawi is also believed to have beheaded another American civilian, Owen Eugene, in September 2004.
  • March 2004 – one of the most deadliest attacks carried out after the Saddam era. Al-Qaeda together with evil mastermind Al Zarqawi coordinated multiple attacks in Karbala and Kadhmain. Nine explosions were detonated in Karbala killing almost 120 people while three bombs were detonated in Kadhmain killing at least 58. Armed squads were placed to add wounds to the thousands who were injured and trapping those who wanted to flee the carnage.

image603330xMarch 2004 – One of the most deadliest attacks against the Shias as they commemorated the Ashura festival.

  • December 2004 – at least 60 people were killed after a car suicide bomber detonated himself in the middle of a funeral procession in Najaf.
  • November 25 – an old fashioned Al Qaeda attack. 3 hotel lobbies at the Grand Hyatt were completely  bombarded after suicide bombers detonated themselves killing 60 people and injuring 115.
A bloody scene shows the aftermath of the Grand Hyatt bombing.

Despite all these minute details of Al Zarqawi’s brutal attacks, much of his ferocious attacks were mass killings in public, kidnappings of individuals, beheadings of Shias and suicide bombings. It is said during the US invasion, he had killed almost 700 people. It was later confirmed that Al Zarqawi also attempted to provoke deadly attacks in Iran due to its highly populated Shia dominance. Thousands and thousands were killed by his authority after the US toppled Saddam. In May 2005, the US placed a $25 million bounty on Al Zarqawi and Osama Bin Laden. This showed how dangerous a person he was to both the Iraqi government and the word in general.

The Shias in particualar were very patient with these vicious attacks. However, in February 22, 2006, massive bombings were carried out in one of the holiest Shia shrines, the Al Askari mosque. The bombings left the dome completely destroyed but did not cause any casualties. The bombings were followed by days of mass Shia-Sunni widespread attacks leaving more than a thousand Shias dead. The next day, 21 Sunni mosques were attacked as a ‘revenge’ attack. Many Shia shrines were attacked also leaving hundreds murdered as they defended their homes and business. Former Iranian president blamed the US and Israel as part and parcel of the root cause of sectarian violence, also, Hezbullah leader, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah accused the US of attacking the shrines to cause tension between the Shia and Sunnis.

Iraq Violence
The holy dome of the Askari mosque after it was bombed by Al Qaeda insurgents.
The inner part of the completely destroyed Al Askari mosque and dome in Samarrah.

They say, every oppressors era comes to an end one day and that is just what happened in Al Zarqawi’s case. US intelligence were tipped off by senior Iraqi leaders about the whereabouts of Al Zarqawi’s safe house. He was killed during a meeting in his safe house when United States Air Force dropped two 230kg guided bombs. 5 others were killed in this attack. It is claimed that Al Zarqawi lived for some few hours after the attack trying to flee.

Prime Minister of Iraq Nuri al-Maliki commented on the death of Zarqawi by saying: “Today, Zarqawi has been terminated. Every time a Zarqawi appears we will kill him. We will continue confronting whoever follows his path.” On June 30, 2006, Osama bin Laden released an audio recording in which he stated, “Our Islamic nation was surprised to find its knight, the lion of jihad (LOOOL), the man of determination and will, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killed in a shameful American raid.”

Having read all that, it comes into one’s mind that Al Zarqawi was NOT REALLY a persistent Muslim. We can conclude by saying that he was, by far, a strong and radical Salafist (a movement from the Sunni branch). Regardless of the death of Al Zarqawi, Al Qaeda were quick in their actions to elect his successor. But that would go out of topic. Al Zarqawi had one objective – creating an ‘Islamic’ caliphate which would promote radicalism. This was resurrected by someone else in the coming years, someone with the same  progressive intellect as Al Zarqawi..