Despite its declaration of a new ‘caliphate’ based on jihadist principles, much of the senior leadership Islamic State is actually made up of Saddam-era Baath Party members.
A study of the origins and make-up of Islamic State characterizes the jihadist group as a ‘spectral hold-over’ of the old regime.
‘Most of its top decision-makers served either in Saddam Hussein’s military or security services. In a sense, ‘secular’ Baathism has returned to Iraq under the guise of Islamic fundamentalism.’
The authors, Syrian researcher Hassan Hassan, who hails from the town of Albu Kamal on the Iraqi border, and the American journalist Michael Weiss, write that this contradiction between secular and fundamentalist is more apparent than real.