Home / In Depth / Behind the mask of the Caliph – Who is Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi?

Behind the mask of the Caliph – Who is Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi?

THE LEVANT EXCLUSIVE – By Catherine Shakdam – The most infamous Islamic radical of our time, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the very man who self-proclaimed his inception as Caliph of the Islamic State, remains somewhat of a shadowy figure, his past clouded in darkness.

Very little is actually known of Al Baghdadi, safe of course from his penchant for gruesome executions, barbaric displays of violence and his radical views on Islam. It is important to note that even though Al Baghdadi has claimed he wants to cleanse the Islamic world from its perversion and establish the true Islam, the vast majority of clerics, both Sunni and Shia have actually rejected Al Baghdadi and declared him an apostate of Islam.

If Sunni and Shia are well-known for their disagreements, they all seem to have found some common ground when it comes to Al Baghdadi. As written by the Crescent International in a report, “No issue has perhaps united so many Islamic scholars from a wide spectrum of opinion in the Muslim world as has the declaration by the self-styled leader of the Takfiri group, announcing establishment of the Caliphate with himself as the Caliph.”

If sources are to be believed there is much more to Al Baghdadi than meets the eye. For a start his agenda would serve not the Islamic Ummah, as he is not fiercely proclaims, but the very people he claims he wants to see destroyed – Israel and its western allies.

So could it be that Al Baghdadi is and always has been a creation, a terror false flag, a smokescreen established to allow nefarious powers to promote their agendas in the Middle East?

The man behind the Islamic State

Al-Baghdadi is believed to have been born near Samarra, in Iraq, in 1971. Reports suggest that he was a cleric in a mosque at around the time of the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq.  He allegedly earned a master’s degree and a PhD in Islamic studies from the University of Islamic Sciences in the Baghdad suburb of Adhamiya.

According to various media sources Al Baghadi was arrested in 2004 by U.S. troops in Iraq after he was identified as a dissident element. It is at this point that accounts on his whereabouts differ most dramatically.

The U.S State Department has claimed that Al Baghdadi was held at Camp Bucca for a period of 10 months from early February until December as a civilian internee. There is no actual official record on al Baghdadi past December 2004, or so Washington claims.

Now, according to other sources Al Baghdadi was only released in 2009 which begs the questions: where was he for this period of time and why would Washington lie about is imprisonment?

To make matters more confusing, those who claim that Al Baghdadi was in Camp Bucca until 2009 are actually U.S. military officers. Army Colonel Kenneth King, the commanding US officer at Camp Bucca in 2009, recently told the Daily Beast that he distinctly remembered Al Baghdadi: “He was a bad dude, but he wasn’t the worst of the worst.” King noted he was “not surprised” that such a radical figure emerged from the facility.

So now we have a highly decorated and respected U.S. military officer challenging Washington’s claims on al Baghdadi whereabouts. Confused?

Another American, Edward Snowden, America’s most wanted whistleblower after Julain Assange has claimed that Al Baghdadi is nothing more than a paid-CIA agent, a product designed by the Pentagon to further America’s agenda in the Middle East.

According to information leaked by Snowden, Al-Baghdadi is the product of three intelligence cooperation. A former employee of the US National Security Agency, Edward Snowden claims the Agency – CIA- in cooperation with British counterparts and the Institute for intelligence and special tasks Mossad paved the way for the emergence of State of Iraq and the Levant.

Snowden has explained that the U.S., Israel and Britain aimed to create an Islamic radical movement of immense violence, capable of attracting the worst of extremists from all over the world on one place to justify military intervention and use such cover to eliminate all those who pose a threat to Israel.

If such techniques had not been first used in the 1980s, Washington might have been able to label such claims ludicrous; but since Al Qaeda the U.S. has lost all credibility in that department.

The U.S. government essentially trained, armed, funded and supported Osama bin Laden and his followers in Afghanistan during the cold war at a price tag of $3 billion. The CIA effectively created and nurtured bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist network by using American tax-payers money. We all know what came next …

Interestingly, like bin Laden before nothing in Al Baghdadi’s character could have foretold of the monster is came to be. For much of his adult life Al Baghdadi did not have a reputation as a fiery, jihadist trailblazer. According to the Telegraph, members of his local mosque in Tobchi (a neighbourhood in Baghdad) who knew him from around 1989 until 2004 (when he was between the ages of 18 and 33) considered Al Baghdadi a quiet, studious fellow and a talented soccer player.

The making of a terrorist – the radicalization of Al Baghdadi

James Skylar Gerrond, a former U.S. Air Force security forces officer and a compound commander at Camp Bucca in 2006 and 2007, says that he believes Al Baghdadi’s stay at the prison contributed to his radicalization—or at least bolstered his extremism. After Al Baghdadi proclaimed the Islamic State Gerrond tweeted, “Many of us at Camp Bucca were concerned that instead of just holding detainees, we had created a pressure cooker for extremism.” Gerrond is now a civilian working for the Department of Defense.

“Like many Iraq vets, I’ve been following the situation with ISIL for the last several weeks and trying to understand why things are falling apart so badly in the region,” Gerrond tells Mother Jones in an email. “When some of Baghdadi’s personal history started to come out, such as the fact that he was detained at Camp Bucca around the same time I was deployed there, I started to reflect on my deployment and what the conditions were at the facility during that time.”

Gerrond notes that US military officials in charge of the prison fretted that prisoners could be radicalized at the facility: “This was something that everyone in the chain of command [for Camp Bucca] (and other detention facilities) were always concerned with.” Maj. General Douglas Stone, the deputy commander for detainee operations in 2007, told Newsweek  that year that potential radicalization was a “very real concern” at Camp Bucca.

According to Gerrond—and documents released by the U.S. military back him up—the military officials running Camp Bucca took steps to prevent radicalization of inmates and violence at the camp. This included careful segregation and later, specific anti-extremist re-education programs. Prisoners were separated on the basis of ideology, among other factors, in order to prevent the commingling of extremists and moderates. The prisoners who were identified as the “most extreme,” including those who associated with radical factions, were isolated.

By quarantining extremists from younger or more moderate detainees, US military officials believed they could keep others from being converted, according to Gerrond. However, he says, it was incredibly difficult at Camp Bucca to regulate and monitor whether or not these efforts were successful. “In theory, this segregation should have kept those with the most heinous and violent ideologies separate from those detainees that were less motivated to commit violence,” says Gerrond. Yet efforts to curtail extremism fell short:

There was a huge amount of collective pressure exerted on detainees to become more radical in their beliefs. Obviously, this was supported by the fact that the detainees were being held against their will in a facility with minimal communication with their family and friends. This led to detainees turning to each other for support. If there were radical elements within this support network, there was always the potential that detainees would become more radical in their beliefs.

Gerrond notes the U.S. military instituted several initiatives to counter the spread of extreme beliefs among the prisoners at Camp Bucca. Most preaching, he says, was conducted in public, where it could be monitored, and translators stood by to identify radical rhetoric. The facility also implemented an anti-extremist re-education program that offered various courses, including literacy classes and seminars on reading the Quran that were designed to counter interpretations of the holy book that justified violence. Most of these courses were voluntary and likely only reached a small percentage of detainees. The program, according to U.S. military records, enlisted Islamic clerics, psychologists, and behavioural scientists to work with prisoners.

“I would be surprised if more than 5 to 10 percent of the detainee population participated,” says Gerrond. He recalls that the first graduation ceremony for this program was “somewhat surreal…with a round of sincere handshakes and congratulations between American guards and Iraqi detainees.” The program also attempted to increase family visitation privileges to provide psychological support to moderates and prevent radicalization. But the camp’s location in southeast Iraq, on the border of Kuwait, made it difficult for many families to visit, because of the distance and the danger in traveling.

Former inmates told Al Jazeera in 2009 that Camp Bucca, which closed in September of 2009 and transferred detainees to Iraqi custody, was an “Al Qaeda school,” where extremists gave chalkboard lessons on explosives and suicide bombing techniques to younger prisoners. One former prisoner, Adel Jasim Mohammed, told the Arab news service that one extremist “stayed for a week and recruited 25 of the 34 detainees” he was grouped with. Mohammed said that the US military officials did essentially nothing to stop radicals from indoctrinating other detainees, though U.S. military officials denied to Al Jazeera that jihadists had radicalized moderate prisoners there.

The conspiracy theory

In a report published in The Telegraph in July, Ruth Sherlock reveals that Al Baghdadi was never the preacher as U.S. media have portrayed him as being. Abu Ali, a man interviewed by Sherlock noted, “When Ibrahim al-Badri [Al Baghdadi] arrived in Tobchi he was 18-years-old. He was a quiet person, and very polite … He wasn’t a preacher as people say. The mosque here had its own imam. When the imam was away, religious students would take his place. [Al Baghdadi] would sometimes lead the prayers but not give any sermons.”

Abu Ali explained he came to know Al Baghdadi through group activities put on by the mosque clergy: “We’d play football. In Saddam’s time we’d all travel to places outside Baghdad, such as Anbar district, for picnics, or go we’d go swimming.” Abu Ali, a man well over six feet high, described the young man’s appearance: “He was a little shorter than me. He had a medium beard.”

He said that he had seen the mug-shot, posted online by the United States government with a reward of $10 million for his capture: “I recognised him in the picture. Except that when I knew him he wore glasses. He was very short sighted.”

While Abu Ali remembers Al Baghdadi as being a conservative Salafi, he explained that he was never a vindictive or prone to violence.

Several sources have alleged that the real Al Baghdadi died back in 2006. Such a revelation came in the back of Lieutenant-General sir Graeme Lamb – former British special forces commander -that Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi “may actually be several people using the same nom de guerre.” He noted, “We either arrested or killed a man of that name about half a dozen times.”

Voltaire network alleged that Iraq “is under attack by the US, France and Saudi Arabia.”

The report read, “The government of Iraq is being attacked by ISIS “which is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on behalf of Prince Abdul Rahman al-Faisal, the brother of the current Saudi Foreign Minister and of the Saudi ambassador in Washington. He is funded and supervised jointly by U.S., French and Saudi officers.  Over the past month, he has received new weapons from Ukraine, where Saudi Arabia has acquired a weapons factory, and via Turkey, which has created a special rail line alongside a military airport to supply ISIL.”

The idea would be to lure Iranian forces into Iraq, to support the Iraqi government, and thus start a war between the Sunni ISIL and the Shia Iranians. It is important to note that this theory has been supported by David Icke and other analysts.

However way one choses to look at Al Baghdadi and whatever one choses to believe it is clear that there is more to Al Baghdadi as meet the eye or that he cares to let on.

 

 

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