ABOVE: OIL PAINTING BY LITTLEDEAN JAIL’S IN-HOUSE ARTIST PAUL BRIDGMAN HERE ON DISPLAY WITHIN OUR DARK TOURIST ART GALLERY .
PLEASE BE WARNED … THIS EXHIBITION ALONG WITH THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION, HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL IS NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN OR THOSE EASILY DISTURBED OR OF A SENSITIVE NATURE ….
With some of the scenes from the new Star Wars film ” The Force Awakens” having been filmed at Puzzlewood here in Coleford ( not too far from Littledean Jail) , we have ourselves now added an intriguing and volatile mix of myth and reality with our own insight into THE FEDAYEEN SADDAM ( Saddam Hussein’s “Men of Sacrifice”) . This was an Iraqi paramilitary militia and personal bodyguard division formed by Saddam’s equally brutal dictator son Uday, who were accountable only to Saddam and Uday .
THE FEDAYEEN SADDAM ENFORCERS wore a helmet that was designed by Uday to mirror the helmet worn by Star Wars villain Darth Vader. Also the all black uniform , though without the “Darth Vader” cape .
Both Saddam and his son Uday were keen fans of Star Wars films . Even Saddams infamous “Hands of Victory ” monuments at the gateways to Baghdad, to celebrate the defeat of Iran in the Iran – Iraq War… were based on the “Empire Strikes Back ” film poster image (see below) depicting Darth Vader holding crossed Lightsabers .
Here on display at The Crime Through Time Collection , Littledean Jail , and new for 2016 … we have pieced together ” The Dark Side of the Fedayeen”exhibition, This to compliment Saddam and Uday’s fascination and interest with Star Wars phenomena . This being alongside various other Star Wars signed memorabilia , action figures and also on a more serious note, the brutal acts of the Fedayeen and the Iraqi regime .
NOT FORGETTING OF COURSE THAT AFTER THE FALL OF SADDAM’S REGIME IN 2003 , THE FEDAYEEN AND SOME 100 OR SO OF SADDAM’S CHIEF COMMANDERS BECAME THE FOUNDERS AND LEADERS OF THE ISLAMIC STATE (ISIS), FOR WHICH IS STILL VERY MUCH CONTROLLED BY SADDAM HUSSEIN’S FORMER CHIEFS SOME 13 YEARS OR SO LATER .
THE VIEW OF MANY IS THAT WE SHOULD HAVE LEFT SADDAM HUSSAIN’S IRAQI REGIME TO RULE IT’S OWN COUNTRY AS THEY FELT FIT TO DO SO . .
TO A GREAT MANY ….A SEEMINGLY COSTLY AND POINTLESS WAR AGAINST A CULTURE AND RELIGION THAT MOST OF THE WESTERN WORLD DO NOT UNDERSTAND AND YET HAVE SEEMED FIT TO INTERFERE IN.
THIS HAVING RESULTED IN A TRAGIC LOSS OF A GREAT MANY LIVES ON ALL SIDES. MANY ARGUE THAT WE SHOULD NEVER HAVE GOT INVOLVED IN THIS EQUALLY SEEMINGLY NEVER ENDING WAR?
Above from left: ORIGINAL STAR WARS FILM POSTER ADVERITISING “THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK” PICTURED HERE ALONGSIDE SADDAM HUSSEIN’S INFAMOUS “HANDS OF VICTORY ” MONUMENTS AT THE GATEWAYS TO BAGHDAD , IRAQ
Fedayeen Saddam (فدائيي صدام) was a paramilitary organization loyal to the Ba’athist government of Saddam Hussein. The name was chosen to mean “Saddam’s Men of Sacrifice”. At its height, the group had 30,000-40,000 members.
BELOW: THE ORIGINAL STAR WARS DARTH VADER HELMET ALONG SIDE AN ORIGINAL FEDAYEEN SADDAM ( SADDAM’S MEN OF SACRIFICE ) HELMET . THEY CERTAINLY MIRROR EACH OTHER AS WAS UDAY HUSSEIN’S WISH
BELOW ARE VARIOUS INFORMATIVE AND INTERACTIVE ILLUSTRATIONS AS FEATURED HERE ON DISPLAY AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL , UK
ABOVE IS A SLIDESHOW OF SOME OF THE FEDAYEEN SADDAM ( SADDAM’S “MEN OF SACRIFCE”) UNIFORM AND OTHER ASSOCIATED EXHIBIT ITEMS ON DISPLAY AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL .
The Fedayeen Saddam was not part of Iraq‘s regular armed forces but rather operated as a paramilitary unit of irregular forces. As a result of this, the Fedayeen reported directly to the Presidential Palace, rather than through the military chain of command. Whilst paramilitary the Fedayeen were not an elite military force, often receiving just basic training and operating without heavy weapons. In this they were somewhat similar to the Basij of Iran or Shabbiha militia of Syria.
Much like other paramilitaries, the Fedayeen was volunteer based and the units were never given an official salary. As a result, most of the members resorted to extortion and theft of property from the general population, even though the members had access to sanction-evading trade and high quality services (i.e. new cars, hospitals reserved for officials, expensive electronics) and a general standard of living considerably higher than that of the average Iraqi of the time.However, they were ordered not to threaten or harm any government officials. This group wasn’t religious or anything so it had a mix of sunni and Shia minority.
The Fedayeen were among the most loyal organizations to the government of Saddam Hussein and were a politically reliable force against domestic opponents. The Fedayeen played a role in the 2003 war, resisting the American invasion.
BELOW: An original oil painting depicting notorious ISIS Executioner “Jihadi John” unmasked .
BELOW: An original oil painting depicting notorious ISIS Executioner “The Bulldozer ” unmasked .
The secret to ISIS’s success: Over 100 former Saddam Hussein-era officers run jihadi group’s military and intelligence operations in Iraq and Syria
- Intelligence source said 100 to 160 former Iraqi army officers with ISIS
- The 2003 US led invasion of Iraq led Saddam Hussein to allow foreign fighters to join the resistance against the invaders
- ISIS’s deputy leader Abu Muslim al-Turkmani was an Iraqi army major
Once part of one of the most brutal dictator’s army in the Middle East, over 100 former members of Saddam Hussein’s military and intelligence officers are now part of ISIS.
Now they make up the complex network of ISIS’s leadership, helping to build the military strategies which have led the brutal jihadi group to their military gains in Syria and Iraq.
The officers gave ISIS the organization and discipline it needed to weld together jihadi fighters drawn from across the globe, integrating terror tactics like suicide bombings with military operations.
Self-appointed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the formation of an Islamic Caliphate in June 2014
While attending the Iraqi army’s artillery school nearly 20 years ago, Ali Omran remembers one major well. An Islamic hard-liner, he once chided Omran for wearing an Iraqi flag pin into the bathroom because it included the words ‘God is great.’
‘It is forbidden by religion to bring the name of the Almighty into a defiled place like this,’ Omran recalled being told by Maj. Taha Taher al-Ani.
Omran didn’t see al-Ani again until years later, in 2003. The Americans had invaded Iraq and were storming toward Baghdad. Saddam Hussein’s fall was imminent.
At a sprawling military base north of the capital, al-Ani was directing the loading of weapons, ammunition and ordnance into trucks to spirit away. He took those weapons with him when he joined Tawhid wa’l-Jihad, a forerunner of al-Qaida’s branch in Iraq.
Now al-Ani is a commander in the Islamic State group, said Omran, who rose to become a major general in the Iraqi army and now commands its 5th Division fighting IS.
He kept track of his former comrade through Iraq’s tribal networks and intelligence gathered by the government’s main counter terrorism service, of which he is a member.
One of the most prominent former Iraqi Army generals within ISIS was Abu Muslim al-Turkmani (left) who led the terrorists’ operations in Iraq until he was killed in an American airstrike last November. Abu Ayman al-Iraqi (right), a former colonel in Iraqi Air Force intelligence now plays a leading role in ISIS’ military council
They have been put in charge of intelligence-gathering, spying on the Iraqi forces as well as maintaining and upgrading weapons and trying to develop a chemical weapons program.
Patrick Skinner, a former CIA case officer who has served in Iraq, said Saddam-era military and intelligence officers were a ‘necessary ingredient’ in the Islamic State group’s stunning battlefield successes last year, accounting for its transformation from a ‘terrorist organization to a proto-state.’
‘Their military successes last year were not terrorist, they were military successes,’ said Skinner, now director of special projects for The Soufan Group, a private strategic intelligence services firm.
The group’s second-in-command, al-Baghdadi’s deputy, is a former Saddam-era army major, Saud Mohsen Hassan, known by the pseudonyms Abu Mutazz and Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, according to the intelligence chief.
Hassan also goes by Fadel al-Hayali, a fake name he used before the fall of Saddam, the intelligence chief, who spoke under the condition of anonymity to The Associated Press.
Targeted: Abu Abdulrahman al-Bilawi (left) – who had been the head of Baghdadi’s four man military council – was killed by a coalition warplane last year. Another militant reportedly killed in an airstrike was Abu Hajar Al-Sufi (right) who had been one of Baghdadi’s most trusted advisers on the Shura Council
US soldiers and Iraqi civilians pull down a statue of Saddam Hussein at the start of the 2003 Iraq War
ISIS’s strength of ideology in vowing to maintain an Islamic state governed by Shari’ah law, has attracted considerable support from Islamists
During the 2000s, Hassan was imprisoned in the notorious U.S.-run Bucca prison camp, the main detention center for members of the Sunni insurgency, where al-Baghdadi also was held.
The prison was a significant incubator for the Islamic State group, bringing militants like al-Baghdadi into contact with former Saddam officers, including members of special forces, the elite Republican Guard and the paramilitary force called Fedayeen.
In Bucca’s Ward 6, al-Baghdadi gave sermons and Hassan emerged as an effective organizer, leading strikes by the prisoners to gain concessions from their American jailers, the intelligence chief said.
Former Bucca prisoners are now throughout the IS leadership. Among them is Abu Alaa al-Afari, a veteran Iraqi militant who was once with al-Qaida and now serves as the head of IS’s ‘Beit al-Mal,’ or treasury, according to a chart of what is believed to be the group’s hierarchy provided to the AP by the intelligence chief.
Al-Baghdadi has drawn these trusted comrades even closer after he was wounded in an airstrike earlier this year, the intelligence chief said.
He has appointed a number of them to the group’s Military Council, believed to have seven to nine members – at least four of whom are former Saddam officers. He brought other former Bucca inmates into his inner circle and personal security.
Saddam-era veterans also serve as ‘governors’ for seven of the 12 ‘provinces’ set up by the Islamic State group in the territory it holds in Iraq, the intelligence chief said.
Iraqi officials acknowledge that identifying IS leadership is an uncertain task. Besides al-Baghdadi himself, the group almost never makes public even the pseudonyms of those in its hierarchy.
When leaders are killed, it’s often not known who takes their place – and several have been reported killed multiple times, only to turn up alive. Figures are believed to take on new pseudonyms, leaving it unclear if a new one has emerged or not.
Brutal: ISIS continue to carry out horrific public executions and floggings in Syria and Iraq
Gunned down: Iraqi army recruits were executed in the Speicher massacre last summer
No mercy: The militants have targeted religious minorities, particularly the Yazidis and rebellious tribes
‘IS’s military performance has far exceeded what we expected. The running of battles by the veterans of the Saddam military came as a shock,’ a brigadier general in military intelligence told the AP, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive topic.
‘Security-wise, we are often left unable to know who replaces who in the leadership. We are unable to infiltrate the group. It is terrifying.’
Estimates of the number of Saddam-era veterans in IS ranks vary from 100 to 160 in mostly mid- and senior-level positions, according to the officials.
Typically, they hail from Sunni-dominated areas, with intelligence officers mostly from western Anbar province, the majority of army officers from the northern city of Mosul and members of security services exclusively from Saddam’s clan around his hometown of Tikrit, said Big. Gen. Abdul-Wahhab al-Saadi, a veteran of battles against IS north and west of Baghdad.
For example, a former brigadier general from Saddam-era special forces, Assem Mohammed Nasser, also known as Nagahy Barakat, led a bold assault in 2014 on Haditha in Anbar province, killing around 25 policemen and briefly taking over the local government building.
Many of the Saddam-era officers have close tribal links to or are the sons of tribal leaders in their regions, giving IS a vital support network as well as helping recruitment.
These tribal ties are thought to account, at least in part, for the stunning meltdown of Iraqi security forces when IS captured the Anbar capital of Ramadi in May.
Several of the officers interviewed by the AP said they believe IS commanders persuaded fellow tribesmen in the security forces to abandon their positions without a fight.
Skinner, the former CIA officer, noted the sophistication of the Saddam-era intelligence officers he met in Iraq and the intelligence capabilities of IS in Ramadi, Mosul and in the group’s de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria.
‘They do classic intelligence infiltration. They have stay-behind cells, they actually literally have sleeper cells,’ Skinner said.
The process of giving former Iraqi commanders senior roles was started by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s predecessor Abu Omar al-Baghdadi (left) who was a former Iraqi Army officer nother former member of Saddam Hussein’s army turned ISIS commander, Abu Musa al-Alwani (right), has also been killed
Militant Islamist fighters wave flags as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria’s northern Raqqa province in 2014
Bleek future: With their black flags and military gear, the new ISIS recruits graduate in Deir ezzor
‘And they do classic assassinations, which depends on intelligence,’ he said, citing a wave of assassinations in 2013 that targeted Iraqi police, army, hostile tribal leaders and members of a government-backed Sunni militia known as Sahwa.
In the run-up to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, Saddam publicly invited foreign mujahedeen to come to Iraq to resist the invaders.
Thousands came and Iraqi officials showed them off to the media as they were trained by Iraqi instructors. Many stayed, eventually joining the insurgency against American troops and their Iraqi allies.
After the collapse of the Saddam regime, hundreds of Iraqi army officers, infuriated by the U.S. decision to disband the Iraqi army, found their calling in the Sunni insurgency. In its early stages, many insurgent groups were relatively secular.
But Islamic militants grew in prominence, particularly with the creation and increasing strength of al-Qaida in Iraq. Some Sunnis were radicalized by bitterness against the Shiite majority, which rose to power after Saddam’s fall and which the Sunnis accuse of discriminating against them.
Al-Qaida in Iraq was initially led by a Jordanian militant, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and had a strong foreign presence in its leadership. But after al-Zarqawi’s death in a 2006 U.S. airstrike, his Iraqi successor, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, began to bring in more Iraqis, particularly former Saddam officers. That process was accelerated when Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took over after his predecessor was killed in a 2010 airstrike.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s first two deputies, who each played a major role in setting up what would become its sweep over Syria and Iraq, were both Saddam-era officers, according to those interviewed by the AP.
They were Sameer al-Khalifawy, an air force colonel killed in fighting in Syria in 2014, and Abdullah el-Bilawy, a former intelligence officer who was killed in Mosul by the Iraqi military in May 2014, a month before the city fell to the Islamic State group. He was replaced by the current deputy, Hassan.
‘It’s clear that some of these (Saddam-era officers) must have been inside the core of the jihadist movement in the Sunni triangle from the beginning,’ said Michael W.S. Ryan, a former senior executive at the State Department and Pentagon, referring to the Sunni-dominated area that was the most hostile to American forces in Iraq.
‘Their knowledge is now in the DNA of ISIS,’ he said, using an alternate acronym for the extremist group.
‘This melding of the Iraqi experience and what we might call the Afghan Arab experience became the unique ISIS brand,’ said Ryan, now a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington-based think tank.
‘That brand ultimately became more successful in Iraq than al-Qaida in Iraq … and, at least for now, stronger in Syria than al-Qaida.’