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Authors: Joby Warrick

Black Flags

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Also by Joby Warrick

The Triple Agent:

The al-Qaeda Mole Who Infiltrated the CIA

Copyright © 2015 by Joby Warrick

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Doubleday, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York, and distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Ltd., Toronto.

www.doubleday.com

DOUBLEDAY and the portrayal of an anchor with a dolphin are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

Cover design by Emily Mahon

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Warrick, Joby.

Black flags : the rise of ISIS / Joby Warrick.—First edition.

pages cm

ISBN 978-0-385-53821-3 (hardcover)—ISBN 978-0-385-53822-0 (eBook)

1. IS (Organization) 2. Terrorism—Iraq. 3. Terrorism—Middle East. 4. Terrorism—Religious aspects—Islam. 5. Islamic fundamentalism. 6. Middle East—Politics and government—21st century. I. Title.

HV6433.I722I8593 2015

956.9104′2—dc23

2015020949

eBook ISBN 9780385538220

v4.1

a

To Maryanne

With love and gratitude

I bring the men who desire death as ardently as you desire life.
—Khalid ibn a-Walid (seventh-century Islamic warrior, companion of Muhammad)

CONTENTS

Cover

Also by Joby Warrick

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Epigraph

Author’s Note

List of Principal Characters

Map of Key Locations

Prologue

BOOK I: THE RISE OF ZARQAWI

  
1.
“What kind of person can command with only his eyes?”
  
2.
“Here was a real leader”
  
3.
“A problem like that always comes back”
  
4.
“The time for training is over”
  
5.
“I did it for al-Qaeda and for Zarqawi”
  
6.
“This war is going to happen”
  
7.
“Now his fame would extend throughout the Arab world”

BOOK II: IRAQ

  
8.
“No longer a victory”
  
9.
“So you guys think this is an insurgency?”
10.
“Revolting is exactly what we want”
11.
“It would surpass anything al-Qaeda did”
12.
“The sheikh of the slaughterers”
13.
“It’s hopeless there”
14.
“Are you going to get him?”
15.
“This is our 9/11”
16.
“Your end is close”

BOOK III: ISIS

17.
“The people want to topple the regime!”
18.
“Where is this Islamic State of Iraq that you’re talking about?”
19.
“This is the state for which Zarqawi paved the way”
20.
“The mood music started to change”
21.
“There was no more hope after that”
22.
“This is a tribal revolution”

Epilogue

Acknowledgments

Notes

A Note About the Author

Illustrations

AUTHOR’S NOTE

The names of several current and former Jordanian intelligence officers interviewed for this book have been altered by mutual agreement due to concerns about threats to their safety. They are referred to in these pages by their informal Arab
kunya
titles, rather than by traditional family names.

LIST OF PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS

Zarqawi and His Generation

Abu Muhmmad al-Maqdisi (given name Aasim Muhammad Tahir al-Barqawi), Jordanian-Palestinian cleric and author, former cellmate and mentor to Zarqawi

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (given name Ahmad Fadil al-Khalayleh), Jordanian terrorist, founder of al-Qaeda in Iraq

Abu al-Ghadiya, Syrian dentist, senior Zarqawi associate, and supply master

Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of al-Qaeda’s “core” branch, former deputy to Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden, founder of al-Qaeda

The Islamic State of Iraq and Its Successors

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi (given name Hamid Dawud Mohamed Khalil al-Zawi), former member of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist Party and leader of the Islamic State of Iraq from 2006 to 2010

Abu Ayyub al-Masri (given name Abu Hamza al-Muhajir), Egyptian explosives expert and Zarqawi associate who became the number two commander of the Islamic State of Iraq in 2006; killed in an air strike in 2010

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (given name Ibrahim Awad al-Badri),
Islamic cleric and ISI spiritual adviser who rose to leadership in 2010; declared himself “caliph” of the Islamic State of Iraq in 2014

Abu Wahib (given name Shaker Wahib al-Dulaimi), brutal, media-obsessed ISIS commander in Anbar Province notorious for killing Shiite truck drivers and other civilians

Haji Bakr (given name Samir al-Khlifawi), deputy to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and leader of ISIS’s military council; killed in 2014

In Jordan

King Abdullah II, fourth sovereign of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Abu Haytham, senior counterterrorism official, General Intelligence Directorate (GID), Jordan

Abu Mutaz, GID case officer and later manager; expert in “flipping” Islamists into informants

Ali Bourzak, GID official and legendary interrogator known as the “Red Devil”

Laurence Foley, midlevel official at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan

Salem Ben Suweid, Zarqawi disciple who plotted Foley’s assassination

Azmi al-Jayousi, Palestinian-Jordanian, trained at Zarqawi’s camp in Herat, Afghanistan; plotted to explode chemical “dirty” bomb in Amman

Sajida al-Rishawi, would-be suicide bomber in 2005 terrorist attack on hotels in Amman, Jordan

In Iraq

Saddam Hussein, president of Iraq, 1979 to 2003

Charles “Sam” Faddis, CIA operative inside Iraq prior to 2003 invasion; urged preemptive strike on Zarqawi’s camp

Nada Bakos, CIA officer and chief “targeter” responsible for tracking Zarqawi

Zaydan al-Jibiri, Sunni tribal leader from Ramadi, Iraq

General Stanley McChrystal, head of Joint Special Forces Command that led the hunt for Zarqawi in Iraq

Zaid al-Karbouly, Iraqi customs officer in the pay of al-Qaeda in Iraq

Nouri al-Maliki, Shiite prime minister of Iraq from 2006 to 2014

In Syria

Bashir al-Assad, president of Syria

Robert Ford, U.S. ambassador to Syria, 2010 to 2014

Mouaz Moustafa, director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, a nonprofit that offered a window into deteriorating conditions in Syria

Abu Mohammad al-Julani, leader of Jabhat al-Nusra (“al-Nusra Front”), the Syrian branch established by the Islamic State of Iraq in late 2011

Kofi Annan, U.N. secretary-general, 1997 to 2006, who sought to broker Syrian peace accord

In Washington

Dick Cheney, U.S. vice president, sought the CIA’s support in connecting al-Qaeda to Iraqi regime

Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, 2009 to 2013

Michael V. Hayden, NSA director and director of National Intelligence during anti-Zarqawi campaign; CIA director, 2006 to 2009

Frederic C. Hof, special State Department adviser on the Middle East and Syria, 2009 to 2012

Sen. John McCain, chairman, Senate Armed Services Committee

Leon Panetta, CIA director, 2009 to 2011; defense secretary, 2011 to 2013

Robert Richer, the CIA’s former station chief in Jordan, later chief of the agency’s Near East Division and deputy director of operations

George Tenet, CIA director, 1996 to 2004

Detail left

Detail right

PROLOGUE

Amman, Jordan, February 3, 2015

Just after nightfall, a warrant arrived at the city’s main women’s prison for the execution of Sajida al-Rishawi. The instructions had come from King Abdullah II himself, then in Washington on a state visit, and were transmitted from his private plane to the royal court in Jordan’s capital. A clerk relayed the message to the Interior Ministry and then to the prisons department, where it caused a stir. State executions are complicated affairs requiring many steps, yet the king’s wishes were explicit: the woman would face the gallows before the sun rose the next day.

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