Military


Izzat Ibrahim Al-Douri / Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was Saddam's number two, Revolution Command Council vice-chairman in the former Iraqi regime, and is now the funder of Sunni insurgents in Iraq. Arriving in Syria in Spring 2003, al-Duri was the highest-ranking Iraqi official in exile. He touted himself as the de facto leader of the Baath Party after Saddam's arrest in 2004, and his main focus was to support the insurgency with funding, people, and material. Al-Duri's ties with Syrian officials reportedly predated the war. Al-Duri was rumored to be a middle man in illicit trade between Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay and former Syrian President Hafez al-Asad's oldest son Basil, who died in a car crash in 1996, and Maher Asad, younger brother to Bashar. Al-Duri is believed to have pocketed a sizable commission from these oil and other deals. Local sources reported in 2004 that al-Duri arrived in Syria with millions of dollars in cash and used that money to buy Syrian influence to establish a base of operations.

Izzat [Ezzet] Ibrahim al-Douri, former vice president of Saddam's revolutionary council, was believed to be behind some attacks against coalition forces and Iraqis. He is the "King of Clubs" No. 6 on the coalition's most-wanted list. Following the capture of Saddam Hussein he became the most wanted man in Iraq. On 23 June 2004 Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz in an interview on MSNBC Hardball said " ... it's not insurgency. An insurgency implies something that rose up afterwards. This is the same enemy that butchered Iraqis for 35 years, that fought us up until the fall of Baghdad and continues to fight afterwards. It was led by Saddam Hussein up until his capture in December. It's been led, in part, by his No. 2 or 3, Izzat Ibrahim al Douri, since then."

Jaysh Muhammad (JM) is an anti-Coalition group with both politically motivated and religiously motivated elements. The politically motivated members are Ba'athist, pro-Saddam elements who tend to be of the Sufi religious soca. The Sufi enjoyed special status during the Baath Regime and hold Izzat al-Duri, the ex-vice-president, in exceptionally high esteem. They were members of intelligence, security, and police forces from the previous regime.

The red-haired Ibrahim was born in 1942 near Tikrit. Coming from the same clan area as Saddam, he had no independent power base, and posed no threat to Saddam. Saddam and Ibrahim were among the leading plotters of the 1968 coup which returned the Baath party to power. His daughter was briefly married to Uday Hussein al-Tikriti, a son of President Saddam Hussein.

He was Vice-Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) and Northern Region Commander. He also served as Deputy Secretary General of the Ba'th Party Regional Command and Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces. After the 1991 Gulf War, he was frequently sent abroad to represent Iraqi interests.

He had a well-deserved and well-known reputation as a killer. As Vice-Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, he was complicit in launching two wars of aggression against Iran and Kuwait, invading Saudi Arabia and attacking the town of Khafji in January 1991. He was involved in the brutal repression of the Uprising which followed the Gulf War in 1991 including mass executions, torture and wanton destruction. He was complicit in the deliberate destruction of the Marsh Arabs' way of life. He was also complicit in the genocidal Anfal campaigns waged against the Kurds, including chemical weapons attacks, the destruction of rural villages and infrastructure, and mass executions.

In 1993 the regime embarked on the Return to Faith Campaign (al-Hamlah al-Imaniyyah), under the direction of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri. The Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs monitored places of worship, appointed the clergy, approved the building and repair of all places of worship, and approved the publication of all religious literature. The Imam (Faith) Campaign allowed Sunni mosques more freedom in practicing religious ceremonies and rites, which reduced substantially the opposition to the regime amongst Sunni Islamists. Forces from the Intelligence Service (Mukhabarat), General Security (Amn al-Amm), the Military Bureau, Saddam's Commandos (Fedayeen Saddam), and the Ba'ath Party killed senior Shi'a clerics, desecrated Shi'a mosques and holy sites (particularly in the aftermath of the 1991 civil uprising), arrested tens of thousands of Shi'a, interfered with Shi'a religious education, prevented Shi'a adherents from performing their religious rites, and fired upon or arrested Shi'a who sought to take part in their religious processions. Security agents were reportedly stationed at all the major Shi'a mosques and shrines and searched, harassed, and arbitrarily arrested worshipers.

On 22 November 1998 Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri escaped an assassination attempt when visiting Karbala.

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri is believed to have been very ill for some years. There are contradictions about his health, and there are some reports that he's trying to put out false information purposely. It is said that he suffers from leukemia and undergoes blood transfusions every six months for treatment. In 1999 he visited Vienna Austria for treatment of leukemia. The Austrian opposition demanded that he be arrested for war crimes, but the government allowed him to leave the country.

In March 2003 he commanded military forces in the north of Iraq during the U.S. invasion last year.

On 05 September 2003 it was reported that Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri had been captured in the town of Tikrit. However, within hours, the US-led coalition denied they had him in custody. The error was particularly embarrassing because Iraqi officials had chosen to break the news to al-Hurra, the new US-funded satellite channel which was intended to bring reliable and credible news to the Arab world.

Anonymous US Government officials claimed in October 2003 that captured members of Ansar al-Islam had said that Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was helping to coordinate their attacks on US occupation forces.

In November 2003 the Coalition launched a public information campaign across Iraq to promote a $10 million reward for information that will lead to his capture or killing al-Douri. On 29 November 2003 the wife and daughter of Izzat Ibrahim al- Douri were arrested in Samarra. The US military detained some of his family members and the son of his doctor in an attempt to pressure him to surrender.

On 16 December 2003 there was a report on Al-Arabiyya Television based in Dubai that Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, may have surrendered. This reported turned out to be incorrect.

In the northeast zone of operations, a cordon-and-search operation on 04 January 2004 in Mosul led to the capture of an associate of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri and 11 other personnel. Upon leaving the area, the unit was attacked by six personnel, but the coalition unit, while returning fire, broke contact in order to safeguard the lives of the detainees. Iraq's Coalition Provisional Authority Administrator Paul Bremer said 07 January 2004 that a reward of $10 million will be given for information leading to the capture of -- or confirmation regarding the death of -- Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri. Searching two locations near Hawija during the morning of 13 January 2004, 173rd Airborne Brigade soldiers captured 10 people for conducting anti-Coalition activities. Four of the individuals, captured in cordon-and-knock operations in Mosul, 2 kilometers north of Hawija, were targeted in order to prevent them from interfering with future Coalition operations. A person believed to be a money courier for Izzat Ibrahim Al Duri and three others were captured in a raid conducted by 173rd Airborne Brigade soldiers in Kirkuk in the early morning of 13 January 2004. The four brothers [al-Douri's nephews] were captured without incident.

On 07 March 2004, members of 4th Platoon, Charlie Troop, 1-4 CAV conducted Charlie Troop's first raid to detain three personnel with connections to High Value Target #6 Izzat Ibrahim Al Duri. All three were detained at their three different locations without incident and turned them over for interrogation.

On 05 September 2004 a man who resembled Izzat Ibrahim Al Duri was arrested in Tikrit. Iraqi Minister of State Wael Abdul al-Latif said it was "75 to 90 per cent certain" the captured man was al-Douri. Some 70 of the man's supporters were killed and 80 captured when they tried to prevent his arrest. Iraqi officials said the arrest operation began when Mr. al-Douri was receiving medical treatment at a clinic in Tikrit, and that he may suffer from leukemia. Celebratory gunfire erupted in the streets of the Iraqi capital Baghdad as word of his arrest was spread. Blood tests were conducted to confirm his identity. The DNA tests performed to determine the identity of the captive indicated that not actually al-Douri. Iraq's Defense minister dismissed as "baseless" reports that Iraqi forces have captured one of the most wanted members of Saddam Hussein's ousted dictatorship. In an interview Hazem Shaalan said the defense ministry has "no information" regarding the alleged arrest of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri.

Al-Duri's whereabouts between 2003 and 2009 remain difficult to pin down, but many observers in Syria believe he traveled in and out of Syria frequently. Al-Duri claimed in July 2006 that the Baath Party was responsible for "95 percent" of the insurgency in Iraq and criticized al-Qaeda/Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi for seeking to instill "hateful sectarianism." Despite this anti-Islamic bias, Al-Duri's focus on supporting the insurgency may have led him to establish links to al-Qaeda networks using Syria to pass jihadis into Iraq, but most of the evidence for such links remains anecdotal.

Al-Duri traveled around the region and in Iraq itself. A Nov. 11, 2005 statement attributed to Iraq's ousted Baath Party reported that Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri had died that day, possibly from Leukemia from which he had been known to suffer from since the late 1990s. The reports of his death were greatly exagerated. He was reportedly killed in Iraq in November 2005 but then later emerged quite alive in a press interview. Al-Duri then resurfaced in Syria in 2008 just as Syrian-Iraqi relations were beginning to improve. In press remarks attributed to him in May 2008, al-Douri criticized Syria for not providing sufficient support to the "Baath cause," prompting a public rebuke from Syrian FM Muallim. Muallim reportedly told Iraqi officials in March 2009 that al-Duri was no longer welcome in Syria.

al-Douri spoke in an audiotape broadcast 07 April 2009 on Al-Jazeera television, in which he urged his followers to topple the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki after the US withdrawal from the country. In March 2009 Baath party hardliners led by Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, were reported to reject reconciliation and to have vowed to fight the "traitors" to the finish. At that time it was reported that Iraqi intelligence sources emphasized that Izzat al-Duri was hiding in one of the strongholds of the so-called "the Islamic State of Iraq" in the southern suburbs of Diyala, northeast of Baghdad.




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