The Princes of Islam

Coalition forces led by the Americans and the Obama administration miss opportunity after opportunity to weaken and degrade the enemy. And, apparently they missed a big one this time.

As the battle in Takrit appears to be heating up (although I don’t know what the Iranians are waiting for) The Islamic State is moving VIPs out of Takrit probably because it is just getting too dangerous to house these people in the city. My sources are indicating that the vast majority of these people are those associated closely with abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self proclaimed Caliph of the Islamic State.

For the last couple of weeks at least, “important” people started moving out of town and making their way to the still quiet Mosul.

I am told maybe 200 families of the Sunni elite, old Bath’ists who joined up  with the Caliphate, al Queda, and most of al-Baghdadi’s own immediate family along with the regulars who protect him from his mosque, confidants, advisers, ministers to Baghdadi himself. Many important high up people, or as my source says, “Princes” of the Islamic State.

“These are senior ‘Princes,’ the senior fathers of al Baghdadi.”

Al Queda’s presence among these people kind of blows out of the water there has been some kind of fallout between the Islamic State and al-Queda and their subgroups. Sources tell me that they are all together moving out of Takrit, ultimately to somewhere safe.

Baghdadi’s family moving with the rest of the “Princes” might contain both immediate and secondary, cousins, uncles, second cousins as well as his immediate family, father, maybe a grandfather or two, wives, sons daughters, all those too young to be part of the fight here, which because of IS policy probably  means all those under five years of age.

Unfortunately, actual names could not be acquired, but Mosul sources say that it is definitely a significant move. Once in Mosul, they are given abandoned or stolen houses, to hold up in until they can be moved out. Some of them are so close to my sources that they can watch the activity as it happens.

That’s where this starts to get really interesting.

Intel says that they are bound for Shakhan in the North, a town about 60 Kilometers from Mushara,  as a second stopping off point. Shakhan is completely controlled by the Islamic State. However, this is not the final destination. These people are going back into Syria, to IS strongholds where they can be the safest.

What does it mean that the most important people in the Islamic State, their “Princes” are leaving Takrit? Iranian troops along with its allies have been fighting in the city for almost a month. But, it appears to be the work of two bad actors who are fighting each other to a standstill. Maybe it is all the Islamic State can do to just get their “Princes” out safely.

One source told me, “We think that IS is building it’s base in Syria and planning a scorched earth trap for Iraq. The are moving major assets they want to keep into Syria.   They will trick their opponents into destroying Iraqi assets.”

It doesn’t say much for the military capability of Iranian forces that they cannot defeat IS in short order. I hope our military planners in the Pentagon are taking notice. The Iranians in Takrit require a post on their own. I will get to that another time.

The “Princes” now in Mosul have been observed in small groups moving away from the city, darting in and out of a tunnel structure which honeycombs all over northern Iraq. The tunnels, part of the landscape for hundreds of years in some cases and probably modernized and continued by Saddam’s three decades of rule, are a complicated system in which people can move unmolested most of the time underground.

Tunnels have existed in Takrit for hundreds of years. Recently in Kobane when allied forces targeted IS Jihadis trying to retreat, rocketing them exposed a massive hole in the ground followed by billowing smoke coming out of the ground’s orifices hundreds of yards away, indicating a large underground depot or weigh station.

The “Princes” moved through Mosul and then into the tunnels which run all the way to Syria with very little exposure on the surface itself. Much of Iraqi Terrain is composed of limestone and gypsum which tends to dissolve in water. Heavy rains collapse major portions of this tunnel system from time to time. Consequently, people are forced above ground in certain areas only to disappear again underground.  That is how it was determined the direction they were taking and that they would end up in Shaykhan.

As of Thursday, March 26th they were hiding in the tunnels in Shakhan waiting, probably for others to arrive before they make their way into Syria. Shaykhan should have been bombed. We could wipe out a lot of their top people by doing that.

Where are they now? I don’t know. Maybe some or all of them are back in Syria. It was a golden opportunity to take out some of the top strategy of Islamic State leadership. I haven’t heard anything on the news, have you? So, they must have gotten away. I guess we can chalk that up to another Obama blunder.

The picture at the top courtesy of Nbcnews.com

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