“If There Was No American Prison in Iraq, There Would Be No IS Now.”


It’s an extreme thought or question, one that remains in the back of your mind, lingering with the question ‘what if?’

But it’s a quote rather than the question which was given to The Guardian’s Martin Chulov when he interviewed one of the senior officials within the ranks of ISIS. Abu Ahmed, as Chulov refers to him was happy to discuss the finer details of U.S. support for ISIS.

“If there was no American prison in Iraq, there would be no IS now. [Camp] Bucca was a factory. It made us all. It built our ideology.”[1]

The Camp Bucca that ISIS leader, Abu Ahmed is referring to is the detention camp that the United States established in Southern Iraq in 2004. Most of the prisoners who entered Camp Bucca were Sunni Militia. Over time it allowed for them to self-organize under the banner we all know today as al-Qaeda. At the time, it was led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed. From then, Abu Ahmed and his comrades reorganized under ISIS.


“We could never have all got together like this in Baghdad, or anywhere else,” Abu Ahmed says, sounding almost grateful to the Americans. “It would have been impossibly dangerous. Here, we were not only safe, but we were only a few hundred meters away from the entire al-Qaeda leadership,” Abu Ahmed said.

Chlulov added that “the Iraqi government estimates that 17 of the 25 most important Islamic State leaders running the war in Iraq and Syria spent time in US prisons between 2004 and 2011.”[2]

But getting back to the question: If there was no Camp Bucca, would there be an ISIS in the context that we have today?


[1] Beauchamp, Z. (2014, December 11). ISIS leader: “If there was no American prison in Iraq, there would be no ISIS.” [Vox]. Retrieved from http://www.vox.com/2014/12/11/7377165/isis-us-prison

[2] Chulov, M. (2014, December 11). Isis: the inside story. [The Guardian]. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/11/-sp-isis-the-inside-story?CMP=share_btn_tw


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  1. Keeping away from all the political garbage (as it can go on on for hours), I’m sure the prison had a huge part in bringing together people that were like minded and forming ISIS, but these kinds of people would have found a way to get together and establish what they have one way or another.


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