Izzat Ibrahim al Douri during the Saddam era.
Izzat Ibrahim al Douri, the most wanted member of Saddam Hussein’s regime and insurgent leader, narrowly escaped a raid on his hideout in the northern city of Tikrit on Friday. Al Douri was organizing meetings with the local insurgency, the Malaysia Sun reported.Police found computers and documentation with important information on the insurgency and al Qaeda.
Police and local security forces from the Tikrit Awakening Council surrounded al Douri’s hideout in the village of Al Sada Al Naeem on Thursday after receiving “confirmed intelligence,” Abdullah Hussein Jabara, the deputy governor of Salahadin province, told Voices of Iraq. “The forces did not find al-Douri, but seized documents with information on the al-Qaeda network and other militias, their activities and the techniques used to conduct their operations in northern Iraq,” Jabara said. “The documents also referred to the groups’ objectives which involved attacking Iraqi military and police forces, but contained no reference to U.S. troops.”
“One document detailed a planned attack on Mosul’s Badush prison that took place in March,” AFP reported. Over 140 al Qaeda were freed in the Badush prison break, including al Qaeda media emir Abu Maysara, who was killed by Coalition forces on December 2. Al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq claimed credit for the prison break.
Al Douri “managed to evade capture by hiding in a secret space,” the Malaysia Sun reported. Police “later pursued a car in which al-Douri was believed to have been traveling, but the driver managed to escape,” Voices of Iraq reported. “They later found the car abandoned, but containing a computer with important information, small arms and other equipment,” a source told the news agency.
In early October, al Douri was appointed the leader of the Supreme Command for Jihad and Liberation, a grouping of largely defunct Sunni insurgent groups. Al Douri and his new group explicitly ignored al Qaeda in Iraq. Al Douri pledged bayat – an oath of allegiance – to Abu Musab al Zarqawi, al Qaeda in Iraq’s former commander, in early 2004. Al Douri denounced al Qaeda in Iraq in August 2007.
Al Douri has shown up in Iraq after seeking refuge in Syria and Yemen. Al Douri directed his elements of the insurgency from Syria until he became overly critical of elements of the insurgency. He then fled to Yemen and sought shelter with Yemeni Baathists. “I was told that Izzat Al-Douri is in Syria, but later on, it’s been made clear to me that he’s in Yemen, not Syria,” Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said in January. “For a long time, we’ve been informed that he’s in Yemen.” The Yemeni government denied al Douri was in the country.
With al Qaeda reconstituting in Yemen, al Douri is thought to have sought shelter in northern Iraq, a US intelligence source told The Long War Journal. Al Douri is the former vice president of Saddam’s revolutionary council and No. 6 on the “deck of cards” of the 55 most wanted Baathists.
Just before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, al Douri was placed in charge of the north and was given personal command of the 5th Corps of the Republican Guard, the only Iraqi unit to survive the initial invasion with most of its personnel, equipment, and command and control intact. His unit formed the initial core of the Baathist insurgency and the now defunct Hizb al Awda (the Party of the Return).
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