How Saddam's Men Help Islamic State Rule

(Reuters) Isabel Coles and Ned Parker - Overseeing the Islamic State's intelligence network in Iraq and Syria are former Iraqi army and intelligence officers, many of whom helped keep Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party in power for years. Saddam-era officers have been a powerful factor in the rise of Islamic State, in particular in the group's victories in Iraq last year. Islamic State has absorbed thousands of Baath Party followers. The Baathists are instrumental in the survival of IS' self-proclaimed caliphate. Of Islamic State's 23 portfolios - equivalent to ministries - former Saddam regime officers run three of the most crucial: security, military and finance. Iraq's Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the ex-Baathists provide IS with highly effective guidance on explosives, strategy and planning. Most former Baathist officers have little in common with Islamic State, many are driven by self-preservation and a shared hatred of the Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad.

2015-12-16 00:00:00

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