Now that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of IS, has been eliminated, there is a great deal of joy and relief in the US and the West. What they don’t mention is that this barbaric terror group is a product of their own foreign policy in the region.
The emergence of IS
In 2003 the US and Great Britain invaded Iraq. At the time, there was little mention of Al Qaeda or other jihadist terror groups in the region. After the invasion, the US army was confronted with a fierce uprising. To crush it, death squads were used just like in Latin America, what the Americans called the ‘Salvador option’. Moreover, in that dirty war, the Sunnis and Shiites were deliberately set against each other, the tactic of divide and rule. It was in that orgy of religiously provoked violence that Al Qaeda gained a foothold in Iraq under the name ‘Islamic State of Iraq’ (ISI).
Then came the Arab Spring of 2011. To overthrow Gaddafi, NATO collaborated with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) under the leadership of Abdelhakim Belhaj, a former leader of al-Qaeda in Libya. When the uprising started in Syria, Belhaj sent hundreds of armed fighters to that country to expel Assad from power. The security services of the US and GB cooperated in transferring Libyan arsenals to Syrian rebels.
In 2012, the US, Turkey and Jordan set up a training camp for Syrian rebels in Safawi, northern Jordan. French and British instructors were also involved. Parts of these rebel groups would later join ISIS.
There were many Syrians in the ranks of Al Qaeda in Iraq. At the start of the civil war in Syria, many of them returned to their homeland to establish the al-Nusra Front. In April 2013, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISI, declared that his group and Al-Nusra had merged under the name Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and later Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Al Qaeda, however, distanced itself from it and from now on both terrorist organizations went their own way.