Article of the Week

Practice AOW

Article Title: U.S. Actions in Iraq Fueled Rise of a Rebel
Source: NYTimes (8.10.2014)

Brandt – H. English III
*Read and annotate the article.
*Complete Cornell Notes as you read the
*Write three reflection paragraphs.
 Paragraph 1 – Summary
 Paragraph 2 – Argument
 Paragraph 3 – Connection to

BAGHDAD — When American forces raided a home near Falluja during the turbulent 2004 offensive against the Iraqi
Sunni insurgency, they got the hard-core militants they had been looking for. They also picked up an apparent hanger-
on, an Iraqi man in his early 30s whom they knew nothing about.
The Americans duly registered his name as they processed him and the others at the Camp Bucca detention
center: Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badry.
That once-peripheral figure has become known to the world now as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-appointed caliph of
the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and the architect of its violent campaign to redraw the map of the Middle East.
“He was a street thug when we picked him up in 2004,” said a Pentagon official who spoke on the condition of
anonymity to discuss intelligence matters. “It’s hard to imagine we could have had a crystal ball then that would tell us
he’d become head of ISIS.”
At every turn, Mr. Baghdadi’s rise has been shaped by the United States’ involvement in Iraq — most of the
political changes that fueled his fight, or led to his promotion, were born directly from some American action. And now
he has forced a new chapter of that intervention, after ISIS’ military successes and brutal massacres of minorities in its
advance prompted President Obama to order airstrikes in Iraq.
Mr. Baghdadi has seemed to revel in the fight, promising that ISIS would soon be in “direct confrontation” with the
United States.
Still, when he first latched on to Al Qaeda, in the early years of the American occupation, it was not as a fighter,
but rather as a religious figure. He has since declared himself caliph of the Islamic world, and pressed a violent campaign
to root out religious minorities, like Shiites and Yazidis, that has brought condemnation even from Qaeda leaders.
Despite his reach for global stature, Mr. Baghdadi, in his early 40s, in many ways has remained more mysterious
than any of the major jihadi figures who preceded him.
American and Iraqi officials have teams of intelligence analysts and operatives dedicated to stalking him, but have had
little success in piecing together the arc of his life. And his recent appearance at a mosque in Mosul to deliver a sermon,
a video of which was distributed online, was the first time many of his followers had ever seen him.
Mr. Baghdadi is said to have a doctorate in Islamic studies from a university in Baghdad, and was a mosque
preacher in his hometown, Samarra. He also has an attractive pedigree, claiming to trace his ancestry to the Quraysh
Tribe of the Prophet Muhammad.
Beyond that, almost every biographical point about Mr. Baghdadi is occluded by some confusion or another.
The Pentagon says that Mr. Baghdadi, after being arrested in Falluja in early 2004, was released that December
with a large group of other prisoners deemed low level. But Hisham al-Hashimi, an Iraqi scholar who has researched Mr.
Baghdadi’s life, sometimes on behalf of Iraqi intelligence, said that Mr. Baghdadi had spent five years in an American
detention facility where, like many ISIS fighters now on the battlefield, he became more radicalized.
Mr. Hashimi said that Mr. Baghdadi had grown up in a poor family in a farming village near Samarra, and that his
family was Sufi — a strain of Islam known for its tolerance. He said Mr. Baghdadi had come to Baghdad in the early
1990s, and over time became more radical.
Early in the insurgency, he gravitated toward a new jihadi group led by the flamboyant Jordanian militant operative Abu
Musab al-Zarqawi. Though Mr. Zarqawi’s group, Al Qaeda in Iraq, began as a mostly Iraqi insurgent organization, it
claimed allegiance to the global Qaeda leadership, and over the years brought in more and more foreign leadership
It is unclear how much prominence Mr. Baghdadi enjoyed under Mr. Zarqawi. Bruce Riedel, a former Central
Intelligence Agency officer now at the Brookings Institution, recently wrote that Mr. Baghdadi had spent several years in
Afghanistan, working alongside Mr. Zarqawi. But some officials say the American intelligence community does not
believe Mr. Baghdadi has ever set foot outside the conflict zones of Iraq and Syria, and that he was never particularly
close to Mr. Zarqawi.