Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri
Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri (Arabic: عزت ابراهيم الدوري ‘Izzat Ibrāhīm ad-Dūrī; 1 July 1942 – 17 April 2015) was an Iraqi general and a commander of the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order. He was an Iraqi military commander and was vice chairman of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council until the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Al-Douri was the most high-profile Ba'athist official to successfully evade capture after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and was the king of clubs in the infamous most-wanted Iraqi playing cards. Al-Douri continued to lead elements of the Iraqi insurgency such as the Ba'athist Sufi Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order against the then-occupation forces and waged an insurgency against the current regime in Baghdad; he was described as "the hidden Sheikh of the Men of the Naqshbandi." Following the execution of former President Saddam Hussein on 30 December 2006, al-Douri was confirmed as the new leader of the bannedIraqi Ba'ath Party on 3 January 2007. Al-Douri was reportedly killed in action—along with his nine bodyguards —on 17 April 2015 in a large-scale military operation by Shiite militias and Iraqi forces near the Al-Alaas oil fields in Hemreen east of Tikrit. The Shiite militant organization Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq has claimed to have killed him and said that his body is being transported to Baghdad. DNA tests were being performed to confirm the identity of the body.
Born in 1942, al-Douri began his life in his hometown of Ad-Dawr, near the Iraqi town of Tikrit, where he sold ice blocks. He came from an impoverished background, and became involved in revolutionary politics in his late teenage years. He worked alongside Saddam Hussein. Both served in the early intelligence apparatus of the Ba'ath Party and participated in what would be known as the 17 July Revolution in 1968.During the Ba'ath Regime
Al-Douri was a senior member of the Ba'athist government under Saddam Hussein. This was due to the fact that both al-Douri and Hussein came from the same Tikriti tribal background. He became the vice chairman of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council prior to 2003, giving him unprecedented amounts of power and influence within the Iraqi political sphere.
As vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, al-Douri was involved in the wars against Iran and Kuwait. He was complicit in the invasion of Saudi Arabia and the attack on the town of Khafji in January 1991.
In 1993, al-Douri was involved in the state-sponsored Return to Faith Campaign(al-Hamlah al-Imaniyyah), which sought to encourage devotion to Islam in Iraqi social life. This saw aspects of Islam fused into the Iraqi media, education system and judicial system.
On 22 November 1998, al-Douri escaped an assassination attempt when visitingKarbala.
Al-Douri, a member of the Naqshbandi Order, was able to use his position in the regime to leverage support to the Naqshbandi community within Iraq. This form of patronage would eventfully culminate in the rise of the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order during the Iraqi insurgency, of which al-Douri would play a leading role.
Fall of the Ba'ath regime and disappearanceThe 2003 invasion of Iraq
At the time of the invasion of Iraq, al-Douri, along with President Saddam Hussein and Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, was among the three surviving plotters who had brought the Ba'ath Party to power in a coup in 1968.
On 20 March 2003, U.S.-led coalition forces invaded Iraq, leading to the toppling of the regime of President Saddam Hussein on 9 April 2003. Following the fall of Baghdad, al-Douri went into hiding. U.S. officials claimed that he was involved in the subsequent Iraqi insurgency against U.S. forces, directing and funding attacks, as well as brokering an alliance between Ba'athist insurgents and militant Islamists. In a June 2008 interview, al-Douri detailed his strategy, indicating that "any negotiations with the invaders without it represents a desertion and treason, and is refused by all national, Pan-Arab and Islamic factions of the resistance."
In the June 2008 interview, al-Douri made the following demands:
- An official pronounced recognition of the armed and unarmed national resistance, including all its factions and (political) parties, as the sole legitimate representative of the people of Iraq
- An official declaration of unconditional withdrawal from Iraq by the U.S. leadership
- Declaring null and void all the political and legislative institutions, as well as all the laws and legislation issued by them, since the occupation, with the de-Ba'athfication law in the forefront, and compensating all who were adversely affected by them
- A stop to raids, prosecutions, arrests, killings and displacement
- Release of all prisoners of war (POWs), prisoners and detainees without exception and compensating all for their physical and psychological damage
- Reinstating the army and the national security forces in service in accordance with their preoccupation laws and regulations, and compensating all who were adversely affected by dissolving them
- A pledge to compensate Iraq for all the material and moral losses it incurred because of the occupation
Al-Douri was reportedly the head of the Iraqi rebel group Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order as well as the Supreme Command for Jihad and Liberation based on his longstanding positions of leadership in the Naqshbandi sect in Iraq. In 2009,General David Petraeus, who was at the time heading the United States Central Command, told reporters from Al Arabiya that al-Douri was residing in Syria.
Iraqi insurgency and resurfacingOn 10 November 2011, a man claiming to be Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri released an audio tape condemning a recent arrest campaign targeting suspected Ba'ath Party members.
The first visual evidence of his survival surfaced on 7 April 2012 when a video posted online showed him giving a speech. In the shots, he is seen wearing an olive military uniform and glasses, denouncing the Shiite-led government in Baghdad and interference in Iraqi politics by regional Shia powerhouse Iran. "Everyone can hear the sounds of danger echoing daily and threatening this country," al-Douri says during the hour-long broadcast. Prime Minister Maliki's personal adviser, Ali al-Moussawi, said the tape had a propaganda function but that he doubted al-Douri was still in Iraq as he required extensive medical care for a number of illnesses.
One Iraqi MP stated that he believed al-Douri was residing in Qatar.
On 5 January 2013, a 53-minute video was released on YouTube in which al-Douri encouraged recent Sunni protests inNineveh and Anbar provinces against Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, saying that "the people of Iraq and all its nationalist and Islamic forces support you until the realization of your just demands for the fall of the Safavid-Persian alliance." The message, which showed the Ba'athist leader sitting behind a desk with a small Saddam era flag on it, was partially broadcast on the Al Arabiya news channel. In the video, released just before the Iraqi Army Day on 6 January, Douri claimed to be somewhere in Iraq's Babil Province. Hours after the tape was released, Iraqi military intelligence arrested Abdul Rahman Mohammed Ibrahim, the nephew of al-Douri, in Saladin Province.
In April 2013, the Iraqi government claimed to be closing in on al-Douri, who they claimed was moving between Tikrit and the towns of Hawija and Dour, which is alleged to be an area of strong support for al-Douri, and also where he is claimed to have owned a villa.
A report surfaced in June 2013 of former Iraqi Ba'ath officials supplying the chemical weapon Sarin to the Al-Nusra Front through former Iraqi Military Industries' Brig. Gen. Adnan al-Dulaimi. The report detailed how "several former Iraqi military engineers trained the al-Nusra Front on how to use these chemical weapons,” adding that all plans in this connection were prepared by al-Dulaimi and staged after al-Douri's approval. The sourcing of this report was said to be an aide to al-Douri.2014 and the fall of Mosul
Al-Douri has been pointed out as one of the main commanders responsible for successful takeover by rebel groups of North Iraq and the city of Mosul in June 2014. The Naqshbandi Army, along with other groups led by former Ba'ath officers, are reported to have assumed an increasingly large role in the governance and administration of occupied cities. Militants were reported to have appointed fellow Ba'ath generals Azhar al-Obeidi and Ahmed Abdul Rashid as the governors of Mosul and Tikrit. Shortly afterwards, reports emerged that the Ba'ath Party, under al-Douri's leadership, declared war on fellow rebel group ISIS. Other reports still maintain a certain degree of cooperation between the two groups.
Al-Douri was alleged to have been killed during a military operation conducted by the Iraqi Army near Al-alaas oil fields in Hemreen east of Tikrit. The Shiite militant organization Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq has claimed to have killed him and said that his body is being transported to Baghdad. DNA tests were being performed to confirm the identity of the body.
In a sign of loyalty, al-Douri consented to marry his daughter to Hussein's eldest son, Uday Hussein. Al-Douri’s influence with Hussein was so substantial that he could even levy a condition, that the union would not be consummated, and later made a successful petition that his daughter be permitted to divorce Uday.
Al-Douri is believed to have suffered from leukemia and was said to have undergone blood transfusions every six months. In 1999, he visited Vienna, Austria for treatment. The Austrian opposition demanded that he be arrested for war crimes, but the government allowed him to leave the country.
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