The rise of the barbaric Islamic State terrorist group was masterminded by one of Saddam Hussein's former military intelligence officers, who planned for years to help the terrorist group conquer Iraqi and Syrian territories, blueprint documents uncovered by the German magazine Der Spiegel have revealed.
In a recently published report titled "The Terror Strategist: Secret Files Reveal the Structure of Islamic State," the news outlet reported that it obtained 31 pages of documents, through negotiations with Syrian rebels, that have been deemed to be "blueprint" materials detailing how the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria was orchestrated.
The report adds that the obtained handwritten notes and charts were composed by Samir al-Khlifawi.
Khlifawi, who is also known by the name Haji Bakr, was a colonel in Saddam Hussein's air force intelligence service.
"Even his best-known pseudonym, Haji Bakr, wasn't widely known. But that was precisely part of the plan. The former colonel in the intelligence service of Saddam Hussein's air defense force had been secretly pulling the strings at IS for years," according to the report. "Former members of the group had repeatedly mentioned him as one of its leading figures. Still, it was never clear what exactly his role was."
The documents, which were discovered by Syrian rebels after Bakr's death early last year, reveal what his role in the rise of ISIS was and how the militant group was able to systematically take over parts of Syria and then parts of Iraq.
"But when the architect of the Islamic State died, he left something behind that he had intended to keep strictly confidential: the blueprint for this state," the report asserts.
"For the first time, the Haji Bakr documents now make it possible to reach conclusions on how the IS leadership is organized and what role former officials in the government of ex-dictator Saddam Hussein play in it. Above all, however, they show how the takeover in northern Syria was planned, making the group's later advances into Iraq possible in the first place."
The report further notes that Bakr's plans outlined personal duties and other responsibilities that were necessary for the group to successfully execute its takeovers in individual towns.
"What Bakr put on paper, page by page, with carefully outlined boxes for individual responsibilities, was nothing less than a blueprint for a takeover," the Spiegel article added. "In addition, months of research undertaken by Spiegel in Syria, as well as other newly discovered records, exclusive to Spiegel, show that Haji Bakr's instructions were carried out meticulously."
According to Spiegel, Bakr began devising a plan to help conquer swaths of Syria in late 2012. After Bakr began living in a town just outside of Aleppo called Tal Rifaat in 2013, hundreds of ISIS fighters were stationed there and that is where the first ISIS stronghold was established.
"It was there that the 'Lord of the Shadows,' as some called him, sketched out the structure of the Islamic State, all the way down to the local level, compiled lists relating to the gradual infiltration of villages and determined who would oversee whom," the report continues. "It was not a manifesto of faith, but a technically precise plan for an 'Islamic Intelligence State' — a caliphate run by an organization that resembled East Germany's notorious Stasi domestic intelligence agency."
The report further explains that Bakr's blueprints were executed with great accuracy and would always begin with the group recruiting followers, militants and spies locally by opening up Islamic missionary centers, or "Dawah" offices.
"Of those who came to listen to lectures and attend courses on Islamic life, one or two men were selected and instructed to spy on their village and obtain a wide range of information," the report adds.
The selected spies would gather information about ISIS' target towns. They were responsible for gathering information about the powerful families in the area and their sources of income, names and sizes of rebel brigades in the area, the names of the brigade leaders, the different religious schools in the area, the names of the imams and what they preached in their sermons.
In each area that ISIS took over, the report states that Bakr planned for there to be an emir who was in charge of supervising the murders, abductions, and communication and encryption. There was also an emir appointed to supervise the other emirs to ensure that they were doing their duties correctly.
In 2010, Bakr and other former Iraqi intelligence officers made Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a radicalized Muslim cleric, the group's emir. Since ISIS' rise, Baghdadi has become notoriously known as the group's leader or caliph.
Even though Bakr had devised the plan for the takeover, he could not be the religious face that the group needed to attract recruits on religious grounds, since he was more of a military mind.
"There is a simple reason why there is no mention in Bakr's writings of prophecies relating to the establishment of an Islamic State allegedly ordained by God: He believed that fanatical religious convictions alone were not enough to achieve victory," the report states. "But he did believe that the faith of others could be exploited."