An intelligence officer who formerly worked for Saddam Hussein was responsible for masterminding the strategy of the Islamic State group after becoming radicalized by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, according to a report by German magazine Der Spiegel published Sunday.
The 31-page document, obtained by the magazine, reveals the meticulously outlined plans about the group’s organization and structure, written by Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi, alias Haji Bakr, a former colonel in Saddam Hussein’s air defense force.
The document, which Spiegel reportedly obtained after lengthy negotiations with a rebel group in Aleppo, Syria, detailed the tactics ISIS would use two years later as part of its master plan to take over huge swathes of territory in Syria and invade Iraq using the former as a base.
“It was not a manifesto of faith, but a technically precise plan for an ‘Islamic Intelligence State’ – a caliphate run by an organization that resembled East Germany’s notorious Stasi domestic intelligence agency,” Spiegel’s Christoph Reuter wrote in his report. “What Bakr put on paper, page by page, with carefully outlined boxes for individual responsibilities, was nothing less than a blueprint for a takeover.”
Its plans included using agents drawn from local populace to infiltrate nearby villages, gather details about the local population and its leaders in order to provide intelligence to the extremist group that it could then use to prosecute or blackmail influential locals. Plans for areas such as finance, education, law and media were also included in the document, the magazine reported.
The overall plan called for the establishment of an overbearing espionage state, operated from the provincial level by so-called “intelligence emirs” who would be in charge of abductions, assassinations and secret communications.
“From the very beginning, the plan was to have the intelligence services operate in parallel, even at the provincial level. ... The goal was to have everyone keeping an eye on everyone else,” the report said.
The magazine said that Bakr was “bitter and unemployed” after the U.S. dissolved the Iraqi army in 2003. He was reportedly detained in American facilities between 2006 and 2008, including a stint in the infamous Abu Ghraib prison.
In 2010, he reportedly traveled to Syria with a small group of former Iraqi intelligence officials and another former U.S. detainee -- Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Islamic cleric and the self-proclaimed “caliph” of ISIS. Baghdadi was promoted in order to give the nascent Islamic State a religious dimension, as Bakr himself was "a nationalist, not an Islamist," according to Iraqi journalist Hisham al-Hashimi, Spiegel reported.
The magazine’s revelations come shortly after another former Saddam aide with ties to ISIS was killed. Izzat al-Douri, former Iraqi general and the "King of Clubs" in the famous pack of cards that the U.S. issued of wanted members of Saddam's regime, was reportedly killed by Iraqi troops near Tikrit on Friday.