In 2009, just months after Barack Obama became president, startling reports began coming in from the Iraqi/Syrian border. General David Petraeus, who headed the U.S. Central Command, told Congress that the al-Qaeda in Iraq pipeline through Syria had been “reactivated.”
Of particular concern, The U.S military identified Mosul as under threat. The North Western Iraqi city is proximate to the Syrian border, and was described as the ”last bastion“ of al Qaeda in Iraq. “We will remain a thorn in the chest of the Americans,” read a graffiti tag on one Mosul building. Those words would eventually come true.
Despite the American military reporting these concerns, the Obama administration was resolute in their decision to leave Iraq. “I am very optimistic about — about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration. You’re going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer. You’re going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government,” gloated Joe Biden
By 2010, Mosul’s universities were the sites of brutal crimes against Christians. 100’s of young Christians were critically injured in the bombings of Hamdaniya, a mainly Christian town. The seeds of ISIS had begun to grow.
The last U.S. troops left Iraq on December 18th, 2011, and conditions – now unchecked – on the Syrian/ Iraqi border only worsened. Extortion and organized crime began growing into what would eventually become ISIS. ‘We’re Leaving Behind a Sovereign, Stable and Self-Reliant Iraq,” said President Obama.
Caring more about campaign promises than facts on the ground, the Obama administration naively thought they could wash their hands of the Iraq War once and for all.
Trucks carrying food from Syria or Baghdad were levied a $200 charge, while smaller vehicles incur a $100 fee. Mosul became the center for smuggling illicit goods and weaponry from Syria.
2011 was the start of the Syrian Civil War, and the chaos it would bring allowed for the already porous border between Iraq and Syria to become completely open. With America and our Arab allies now supporting the very same Syrian Sunni forces that work with the Sunni criminals residing in Mosul, the rate of growth for the aspiring terrorist network was exponential. In a speech delivered to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, President Obama vowed to “increase U.S. assistance to the moderate Syrian opposition.”
The group then known only as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) began to make a fortune by sending weaponry across the border. In fact, the prices jumped so much that even Al Qaeda leaders in Iraq chided dealers for price gouging in a statement on a militant website.
Now with significant strength, ISI conducted large scale attacks in Baghdad and southern cities, such as those that rocked Mahmudiya, Hillah, Madain, Nasiriyah, Kut, and Basra on June 10, 2012, resulting in more than 180 casualties.
When the forces on both sides of the Syrian/ Iraqi border would join forces – becoming ISIS – nothing was to stand in their way of conquering the surrounding area. After looting Mosul’s banks and emptying its prisons, ISIS had surged on to become the largest, richest terrorist organization in history. Their capital was established.
The world collectively stood in a feigned shock, pretending this daunting enemy came from out of the blue. President Obama famously compared the group to a Junior Varsity basketball team, and vowed to degrade and destroy the Jihadist organization. Based on their ability to strike Lebanon, Kenya, Iraq and France in a two period, the idea of this group being against the ropes would be laughable if not so sad.
There was nothing surprising about the creation of ISIS. We watched them grow every step of the way.