During the past year, the Islamic State has evolved to become one of the most heavily armed and well-funded terrorist organisations of all time.
It’s also becoming so violent and brutal that terrorists within ISIS are beginning to question the group’s direction — the Islamic State’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been called “more violent, more virulent, more anti-American” than Osama bin Laden.
In an in-depth article for The Guardian, Martin Chulov chronicles how one senior official within ISIS is having doubts about the group’s direction.
The official, identified under the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed, first got to know Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi a decade ago when the two were detained together in the US-run prison Camp Bucca in southern Iraq.
He talked to Chulov about how ISIS as it stands today was born in Camp Bucca as jihadists held there used the prison as a planning ground for terrorism. Al-Baghdadi became a kind of leader within the prison and, once released, rose to power within ISIS.
Ahmed now worried about the direction al-Baghdadi is taking the group in.
Chulov writes: “With Iraq and Syria ablaze, and the Middle East apparently condemned to another generation of upheaval and bloodshed at the hands of his fellow ideologues, Abu Ahmed is having second thoughts. The brutality of ISIS is increasingly at odds with his own views, which have mellowed with age as he has come to believe that the teachings of the Koran can be interpreted and not read literally.”
Ahmed told The Guardian that many young men were drawn to ISIS in the early 2000s because they were angry about the US invasion of Iraq. But now, ISIS is stepping in to fill the vacuum created by the Syrian civil war, which isn’t exactly true to the group’s origins.
“The biggest mistake I made is to join them,” Ahmed said.
He continued: “It’s not that I don’t believe in Jihad. I do… But what options do I have? If I leave, I am dead.”
Ahmed is still an active member of ISIS. He said he thinks leaving is too risky.
“[ISIS] got bigger than any of us,” Ahmed said of Bucca alumni who are now involved with the terrorist organisation. “This can’t be stopped now. This is out of the control of any man. Not Baghdadi, or anyone else in his circle.”
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