The links between ISIS and the Saddam regime have once again been exposed by the capture of one of Saddam's relatives. From the Times (£):
A cousin of Saddam Hussein has been captured fighting for Islamic State near Mosul, an indication of the group’s roots in an insurgency prepared before the dictator fell from power.
Security sources in Kirkuk confirmed that Nazar Mahmoud Abdul Ghani, who used to act as a driver for one of Saddam’s sons, was among the Isis fighters who infiltrated the city, southeast of Mosul, in a distraction raid as Iraqi forces began their advance.
He is said to be among a number of Saddam’s relatives now fighting with Isis. A nephew, Ibrahim Sabawi Ibrahim, was killed in the battle for the oil town of Baiji in May last year....
Analysts say that the insurgency in Mosul was successful thanks partly to groundwork laid by Saddam’s sons, Qusay and Uday Hussein. In the last years of his rule Saddam increasingly exploited Islamist feelings in Iraq. He also created quasi-Islamist militias, members of which migrated into the al-Qaeda groups that formed after his fall and later merged into Isis.
Qusay used his father’s authority to pillage the central bank of an estimated $920 million. It is not clear what he did with the money but by the time he and Uday were killed in Mosul by American troops in July 2003, some groundwork had already been laid for an underground resistance.
Relations between remnants of the Saddam state and jihadists were later overseen by the dictator’s deputy, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri. He is said to have been sheltered by the Assad regime in Damascus, which acted as a channel for jihadists to enter Iraq to fight the Americans.
Kyle Orton - the source for much of the background here - has been on this for a while now:
There is...little doubt that IS has benefited significantly from the ground being prepared for it by the Saddam Hussayn regime, with its savage repression of the Shi’a uprising in 1991 and subsequent heavy-handed security measures that polarized Iraq along sectarian lines; its encouragement of a religious revival, partly as a means of shoring-up the regime under the sanctions; its restructuring of Iraq to empower tribes and clerics, who then resisted their loss of privilege after Saddam fell; its unwillingness and inability to curb the growth of a powerful underground Salafist movement that had deep links into the security architecture, military and intelligence officers who quickly put themselves at IS’s service; and its sponsorship of all comers in the aftermath of the regime who could challenge the Coalition’s plans.
That security officials from Saddam’s regime have played a significant part in IS’s leadership, especially since 2010, and been helpful as experienced men running an authoritarian regime, is uncontroversial now. The IS member who led the Rutba offensive, Abu Salah al-Zubay, was the intelligence chief in the town under Saddam, for example. There is an interesting personal aspect to this with several of Saddam’s relatives showing up in IS’s ranks.
Prominent cases are Saddam’s nephews, Ayman (b. 1971) and Ibrahim al-Ibrahim (b. 1983), the sons of Sabawi al-Ibrahim, a half-brother of Saddam’s who served as intelligence chief until the mid-1990s. All joined the insurgency soon after the regime came down....