U.S. soldiers, partly seen at right, prevent former Iraqi soldiers from trying to enter the American headquarters during a deadly demonstration in Baghdad, June 18, 2003.
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While attending the Iraqi army's artillery school nearly 20 years ago, Ali Omran remembers one major well.Now Ani is a commander in ISIS, said Omran, who rose to become a major general in the Iraqi army and now commands its 5th Division fighting ISIS.Under its leader, Iraqi militant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS' top command is dominated by former officers from Saddam's military and intelligence agencies, according to senior Iraqi officers on the front lines of the fight against the group, as well as top intelligence officials, including the chief of a key counterterrorism intelligence unit.The prison was a significant incubator for ISIS, bringing militants like Baghdadi into contact with former Saddam officers, including members of special forces, the elite Republican Guard and the paramilitary force called Fedayeen.Former Bucca prisoners are now throughout the ISIS leadership.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.
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