Leaked "Democratic Party memo" admits U.S. war in Iraq fueled rise of ISIS

Alleged Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee doc acknowledges the Iraq War set the stage for Islamic State

By Ben Norton

Published September 1, 2016 9:00PM (EDT)


An alleged Democratic Party document leaked by a hacker acknowledges the role that U.S. foreign policy has played in fueling the rise of the genocidal extremist group ISIS.

Guccifer 2.0, the hacker (or group of hackers) that has leaked internal Democratic Party documents, published on Wednesday what it says are documents from the personal computer of Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic minority leader of the House of Representatives.

Among the documents is an October 2014 memo titled "ISIS Backgrounder" that was allegedly sent by Mike Ryan, policy director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, the official arm of the Democratic Party in the House.

The alleged DCCC memo provides Democratic candidates with two pages of talking points to use when discussing the self-declared Islamic State. The document admits that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq and the subsequent sectarian policies of the U.S.-backed Iraqi government incited extremism.

In the section on the origins of ISIS, the summary reads, "Our invasion created the atmosphere for a Jordanian to start a Muslim sectarian war, which ultimately created ISIS."

It also says, "When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 we triggered a massive insurgency against our presence." This insurgency against the U.S. invasion and occupation was exploited by extremists like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of the Sunni fascist organization al-Qaeda in Iraq.

By carrying out brutal attacks on Shia civilians in Iraq, al-Zarqawi helped transform an internal war against U.S. occupiers into a sectarian war between Sunnis and Shia.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq was formed in 2004. Just a few months after al-Zarqawi was killed in 2006, al-Qaeda in Iraq evolved into the Islamic State in Iraq, or ISI — the immediate predecessor to ISIS.

The alleged DCCC memo also notes that the U.S.-backed government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki relied on a sectarian style of governance that only further fueled extremism.

[caption id="attachment_14585170" align="aligncenter" width="620"](Part of the alleged DCCC memo on ISIS) (Part of the alleged DCCC memo on ISIS)[/caption]

After Salon reached out to the DCCC to ask about the authenticity of the document, Meredith Kelly, the organization's national press secretary, said, "We will not at any point be confirming or denying the authenticity of any documents that are released." Kelly did, however, confirm that DCCC computers were hacked in July. She blamed Russian hackers for the cyber attack.

The Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign claim that the Russian government is leaking Democratic Party documents in order to tilt the election in favor of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, although they have admitted they have no evidence. Russia denies the allegations, and the U.S. government has not officially blamed the Russian government for the hacks. The FBI is currently investigating.

The alleged DCCC memo goes on to provide background information about ISIS, its structure, its composition, its size, its recruiting tactics, its assets and the "broad array of horrific crimes against humanity" that the fascist Islamist group has committed.

ISIS "owns hundreds of millions of dollars of sophisticated weapons, including vehicles and GPS-equipped weapons," the memo adds, acknowledging that many "of these are American-made and were captured from Iraqi troops."

The document concludes with details about the strategy of the U.S. and other countries to defeat ISIS.

As a senator, Hillary Clinton voted for and advocated strongly on behalf of the Iraq War that President George W. Bush initiated. She joined the Bush administration in propagating baseless myths to sell the war, trying to link secular Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda, which was ruthlessly repressed by his government and had very little presence in Iraq before the U.S. invasion.

Clinton's staunch support for the war has haunted her in this election cycle. Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stressed in the New Hampshire debate in February that he and Clinton "differed on the war in Iraq, which created barbaric organizations like ISIS."

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan explicitly said in 2004 that the U.S.-led war in Iraq was illegal. It violated the U.N. Charter as it was not sanctioned by the Security Council, he explained.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who joined President Bush in the illegal U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, apologized in October, admitting that the war set the stage for ISIS.

“You can’t say that those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015," Blair conceded.

As Salon has previously reported, the British government's official Iraq War inquiry, the Chilcot Report, revealed that top British intelligence officials had, for months in the lead-up to the war, repeatedly warned Prime Minister Blair that a foreign military invasion of Iraq would strengthen extremist groups like al-Qaeda.

The Chilcot Report shows that Western intelligence agencies knew Saddam Hussein did not actually pose a threat, and that the real threat, they had cautioned, were Islamist militants that would take advantage of the war.

"Between 2003 and 2009, events in Iraq had undermined regional stability, including by allowing Al Qaida space in which to operate and unsecured borders across which its members might move," the U.K.'s Iraq War inquiry noted. It added that the American and British occupation “exacerbated” Iraq’s “deep sectarian divisions,” fueling violence and extremism.

Ben Norton

Ben Norton is a politics reporter and staff writer at AlterNet. You can find him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

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Iraq Iraq War Isis Syria