I have always been curious about why the ISIS story was never fully told.
My long time readers will remember me struggling with various questions about this shadowy organization.
In 2013, when ISIS showed up out of the blue with a $4 billion war chest and two professional film studios and several software development units all over the Arab world, I couldn't buy the idea that this slick entity was formed by an unknown preacher called Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and staffed by semi-literate thugs from Western European suburbia and disaffected North Africa youth.
The corporate media maintained that the organization was created by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian with anger management issues who never met al-Baghdadi and who died in 2006, 7 years before ISIS showed up as an amazingly well run terror machine to replace Al Nusra Front overnight.
They were so good, we were told, that they invaded Mosul, a city of 2 million with only 1,800 fighters. Nobody seemed to be too concerned that it was an impossible feat, as that represented 51 soldiers per neighborhood (Mosul has 35 districts). Or less than one soldier per street.
Equally dubious were the extraordinary night fighting skills of ISIS soldiers and their ability to use heavy artillery and vehicles with astonishing sophistication.
Finally, no one bothered to point out that their insistence in forming a state and therefore inviting relentless attacks by far more superior forces was simply illogical.
None of it made any sense.
So I pieced together a framework that explained most of these peculiar issues.
According to documents unearthed by Der Spiegel, ISIS was created by Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi, a colonel in Saddam's Mukhabarat with the explicit aim to rally the Sunni population to rise up against the American occupation.
He found al-Baghdadi in prison and he named him the public face of ISIS. He was also the guy who set up the organizational structure of ISIS and placed Baathist officers in key positions during the expansion process.
The military power was provided by Saddam's Vice Chairman of General Chief of Staff Izzat al-Douri's Naqshbandi Army.
It was that army that invaded Mosul and chased the demoralized Iraqi units. It was also them who did the bulk of fighting while Jihadi Johns and Jihadi Jeans from Europe posed for beheading videos.
The money that paid for the army, the studios, the monthly payments for fighting idiots was provided by Qatar. They needed a pipeline for their natural gas to Europe and both Syria and Iraq had said no to the project.
Al Nusrah Front the precursor of ISIS was not up to the job so ISIS got the mission.
The need for a pipeline is also the reason behind the need for an actual territory.
In other words, ISIS was made possible by the collusion of a lot of players.
Otherwise, do you really think that it is possible to create such a huge and slick monster without anyone noticing?
Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey all stood to benefit from the creation of a Pipelineistan from the ashes of Syria. And they actively supported ISIS.
Since Qatar's natural gas comes from shared fields with Iran, it represented an additional bonus in the form of weakening the Islamic Republic.
Europe was fine with the plan as well because of their dependence on Russian gas. Putin's often hostile relations with Ukraine indicated that he would not shrink from using gas as leverage. If Qatar's gas could reach Europe, with Norway as another major supplier, Europe could call Putin's bluff when they needed to.
The US was fine with the idea as it weakened both Russia and Iran.
That is why nobody pressured Turkey to close its borders or to stop providing arms and ammunition to ISIS and nobody said a word about the billions of dollars sent to ISIS.
And nobody tried to prevent tens of thousands young people from traveling to Syria to die for the cause.
All of these points are well documented and over the years I wrote a great deal about them. Yet none of this made to mainstream news media. Even the Der Spiegel revelations were not picked up by anyone. As late as last year, Frontline was still talking about Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi as the founder of ISIS.
Why did I rehash all of this one more time?
A few days ago, BBC published a long article in which they revealed that when Raqqa, ISIS' capital fell earlier this year, coalition forces hired lorries and drivers to have ISIS fighters and their families carried out of the city in peace.
When the deal was made with local people, Kurdish-led SDF and British and American officers made extensive arrangements to keep it secret.
Great pains were taken to hide it from the world. But the BBC has spoken to dozens of people who were either on the convoy, or observed it, and to the men who negotiated the deal. (...)
The Kurdish-led SDF cleared Raqqa of media. Islamic State’s escape from its base would not be televised.According to the drivers, about 4,000 people consisting of fighters, their wives and children were transported out of Raqqa.
Another driver says the convoy was six to seven kilometres long. It included almost 50 trucks, 13 buses and more than 100 of the Islamic State group’s own vehicles. IS fighters, their faces covered, sat defiantly on top of some of the vehicles.This is the footage of the exodus made by SDF soldiers.
Footage secretly filmed and passed to us shows lorries towing trailers crammed with armed men. Despite an agreement to take only personal weapons, IS fighters took everything they could carry. Ten trucks were loaded with weapons and ammunition.
In case you think that these were beaten down and disillusioned militants, this is what the drivers said.
“They said, 'Let us know when you rebuild Raqqa - we will come back,’” says Abu Fawzi. “They were defiant and didn’t care. They accused us of kicking them out of Raqqa.” (...)
Almost everyone we spoke to says IS threatened to return, its fighters running a finger across their throats as they passed by.What is interesting is the fact that they allowed foreign fighters to leave as well.
But foreign fighters – those not from Syria and Iraq - were also able to join the convoy, according to the drivers. One explains:
There was a huge number of foreigners. France, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi, China, Tunisia, Egypt...”The convoys were left alone for the most part and when they reached a predetermined destination, the fighters moved on by themselves. Some used smugglers to get into Turkey, others into Iraq.
The report maintained that senior IS figures were evacuated earlier and they had their own highly paid smugglers.
The one exception was the notorious intelligence chief of ISIS Abu Musab Huthaifa. He was double crossed by his smugglers and was arrested before he could cross the Turkish border.
He says the convoy went to the countryside of eastern Syria, not far from the border with Iraq.Apparently, before the siege, thousands escaped to Idlib, which is to the West of Raqqa. While some chose to stay others left for their country of origin.
Thousands escaped, he says.
Abu Musab’s own attempted escape serves as a warning to the West of the threat from those freed from Raqqa.
How could one of the most notorious of IS chiefs escape through enemy territory and almost evade capture?
Foreigners, too, also make it out - including Britons, other Europeans and Central Asians. The costs range from $4,000 (£3,000) per fighter to $20,000 for a large family.According to the spokesman of coalition forces Co. Ryan Dillon they were reluctant to let them go. But they did.
“We didn’t want anyone to leave,” says Col Ryan Dillon, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, the Western coalition against IS.Does that make any sense to you?
“But this goes to the heart of our strategy, ‘by, with and through’ local leaders on the ground. It comes down to Syrians – they are the ones fighting and dying, they get to make the decisions regarding operations,” he says.
While a Western officer was present for the negotiations, they didn’t take an “active part” in the discussions.
Next time some of these future "lone wolves" kill tens of innocent civilians, remember this extraordinary decision to let these murderous thugs escape Raqqa and return to their countries.
And ask yourself this: Is there any way the people who made that decision did not know of its possible consequences?