Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Unanswered questions.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is without doubt causing a stir in the Sunni muslim world but what do we actually know about him? Not a lot actually, but what has been made public raises certain questions.

Let’s start with what is publicly known about him. He was born in 1971 and went on to research Islamic Studies at PhD level in Baghdad. When the USA and Britain invaded Iraq in 2003 he was still studying and not thought to be part of any militant group. By late 2005 however, he was captured on suspicion of being a mid-ranking figure in the Sunni insurgency against US and British forces. While in detention he was described as being inconspicuous, bad but not one of the worst and generally a nobody. He was released in 2009. Until very recently there were only two pictures of him in the public domain, then suddenly he appeared in public to give a sermon at a major mosque in Mosul. While the video of him speaking is still to be verified, most analysts believe it is the real thing. Finally there is the claim, yet to be challenged, that he is a direct descendent of the prophet Muhammad.

What permitted Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to go from being a middle ranking, inconspicuous figure with no real stand out qualities to being the head of an organization, which is not only totally ruthless against those who oppose it but also highly effective at the practicalities of governing, running utilities, schools, hospitals and other social services? ISI before it became ISIS was a part of Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda while well funded, have never been able to demonstrate this level of efficiency of organization, to put it simply it isn’t part of Arab culture to operate in this way. Where does this ability come from?

I have always maintained that Iran is supporting ISIS as a way of creating chaos in the Sunni muslim world. As yet the Shia dominated south-east of Iraq has been almost untouched by ISIS, which is unusual considering how much ISIS hate the Shia. But there is another avenue which could also be worth considering. When Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was captured by American forces in 2005 he was basically a nobody with no major ambitions. Could it be that he was turned? Not only turned but given training and support in the period leading up to his becoming leader of ISI as it was then known. Until making his face publicly known at the mosque in Mosul he has always kept his face hidden, very few in ISIS had any idea of what he looked like as the two pictures of him were several years old and only released at the beginning of this year. Under these circumstances it would have been relatively easy for him to travel and meet people without being recognized.

Why would I think such a thing could be possible. To do that we need to look at the current situation. The USA is refusing to be drawn back into the Middle East, starting with Syria it has refused to take action despite being warned that by so doing the growth of extremism and terrorism would be inevitable. It seems this has been the plan for a while, by allowing the growth of ISIS a new balance of power between Sunni/Shia is created in the Middle East. Actually balance is the wrong word, what is being created are the conditions for permanent fighting between different groups in the regions with no group supposedly strong enough to win an outright victory. This is the “balance” which will arise from the situation. At the same time it could well be that Iran and the USA have a tacit agreement for it to take over as the dominant power in the Middle East. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has been sidelined to a certain extent by the USA forcing it into a situation where it is trying to improve its relations with Iran as a way of protecting itself from tsunami of chaos which is threatening to engulf the region. Now that KSA knows America won’t come riding to the rescue, it is being pushed into making new alliances, including with Israel, as can be seen from the way Israel, Jordan and KSA have been collaborating regarding Syria.

I would suggest that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is little more than an instrument being used to create chaos. This chaos has the possibility to weaken many governments and countries in the region. A chaos which is only just beginning. While the vast majority of mainstream muslims and scholars mock the claim to be Caliph by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi it does not take into account thoughts of millions of young muslims, mostly men but also women, not only in the region but around the world. Many of them feel disenfranchised, ignored by their governments, having limited education and employment possibilities. For them, the ideology of an Islamic State is very attractive, to this they will be looking as a way of finding an identity. You can be sure that at this moment many young muslim men and women are seriously considering going to Iraq, that quiet conversations are happening in mosques all around the world. There is evidence to suggest ISIS is financially helping those who want to join the Jihad in Syria/Iraq. These networks are often connected to mosques as certain individuals use them to identify those who can be convinced to join Jihad. It is extreme but considering the danger posed by the threat of international terrorism, ironically allowed to develop by the USA, the best way to counteract this threat would be to close all mosques around the world for a period of time. Could it ever happen? Expect the unexpected.

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10 thoughts on “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Unanswered questions.

  1. I think that the USA is wise to stay out of this conflict. They really need to sort things out for themselves. By allowing them to find their own solutions (without our interference) they will come to some resolution more quickly. It may not be to our liking but that may be the case even if the West does get involved.

    • Hi Leslie. It is far too late for the USA or anyone else to do anything about the situation. But keep your eye on what is happening, it will have global consequences.

      • For sure it will have global consequences and unfortunately, a lot of innocent people (and children) will suffer tremendously. It took us a long time to come up with our present, flawed kind of democracy. It is so important that these people work out their own destiny.

  2. I have a feeling EU and US have been more involved that we know. That being said, a team approach to taking out ISIS would be a welcome event in a place with so much violence between Muslims, Jews, and Christians. We may see another border redraw before it’s all over.

    I’m assuming ISIS is doing plenty of monetary recruiting with the booty they just scored from Mosul, et al. People in poverty will follow the money regardless if the ideology behind it. Their haul has made them economically superior to Al Quaeda (correction?), and if we are lucky, ISIS will get arrogant and try to take Al Quaeda out before trying to usurp even more territory. The lull in its expansion will be a weak point to hit them hard, reduce the numbers, and divide their focus.

    There is a piece of info that needs clarification. Some sources have said ISIS is a splinter cell from AQ, that it evolved from AQI. Other sources say no, that it developed on its own from Syria. Any way to settle that debate?

    And when you look up the history of ISIS, all these supposed groups are listed as precursors to ISIS. The leader of these was supposedly killed. How did he develop the lineage to ISI, before it became ISI, die (killed as a known terrorist leader), then magically pass it on to Baghdadi? And if my dates are right, the dirt leader died in 2003; Baghdadi did not go to prison until 2005. There seems to be no named connection between them either.

    Is there a connection between them before 2003? And is that the suspicion on which Baghdadi was arrested?

    If not, then his own recruitment and maturation into terrorism was after and his arrest in 2005 (if that is even true). I cannot imagine he would not be resentful, nay livid, at being a scholar one day and wrongfully thrown into prison with extremists the next. Without proof, trial, or justice of any kind from what I am reading. Easy to think he would easily be swayed by inmates, and therefore want revenge. Being an Islamic scholar it is not surprising he’s able to manipulate fellow Muslims.

    I think diving into his history will reveal some clues as to his next moves. He wants his caliphate, and he may just get it.

    As always, thanks for the posting, bro.

    • Hello Sis,
      Borders redrawn, thats for sure, Sykes-Picot is dead. It is too late for a team approach to take on ISIS because there is no real team and ISIS are in the process of capturing the zeitgeist of the disillusioned youth of the Sunni muslim world.

      You are right. ISIS is well funded and the more popular it becomes the more money it will receive. Becoming more arrogant the more successful you become is a common trait of human weakness but in this case they are playing the long game. The lull in expansion is part of their plan of consolidation before pushing ahead. They now have control of most of the two main water courses of the Middle East, the Tigris and Euphrates. They can afford to wait.

      ISIS was orginally in Iraq as ISI, which at that time was part of AQ. Under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi it sent a small forward team into Syria and joined with Jabhat al Nusra. Over time it sent more fighters and then announced that Al Nusra was to be merged with ISIS but they refused.

      You are spot on, the history of ISI becoming ISIS and how Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi became leader is one of the big questions. There is no definitive information of who Abu Omar al-Baghdadi was, the predecessor to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Abu means “father of” and is similar to my common name in the Middle East, which is Abo Salam, in this case meaning “stern father of ” Salam means peace in the same way Shalom does. Names have great significance in Arabic and Hebrew, there is the name you are born with and there is the name you are given based upon your reputation. That Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has taken the name of Khalifa Ibrahim is significant, while Ibrahim is his original name you have to take into consideration that Ibrahim, or Abraham is at the root of the three monotheistic faths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. He believes he is on a mission from God even if he is being used, hence his use of this title. Things are going to become interesting.

      I still think he was turned. Watching his body language and micro facial expressions during his sermon in Mosul was quite interesting.

      At the end of the day all will become clear, but it is still interesting to watch events unfold 😉 Keep in touch 🙂

      • They’ve got the water? Well that’s gonna end very, very badly. Thanks for the answers.

  3. Closing all mosques, that would be something, but who would do it.
    Reminds me of the parable of the rats and cats. Who will hang the bell on the cat’s neck.
    Good post

    • The situation suggests that there are going to be some surprising events in the not too distant future. Who will hang the bell on the cat will be clear at the right time. Closing mosques is not so far from political leaders minds as you might think,,even in the Arab world.

  4. Pingback: Chasm of incomprehension - Riyadhvision

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