Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) [representational image].Reuters

"If there was no American prison in Iraq, there would be no IS now."

This damning statement, made by a senior member of the Islamic State, also referred to as IS or ISIS, is bound to spell fresh trouble for the US at a time when it is struggling to contain the terror group in the Middle East.

The eventful Islamic State, which has emerged as the most ruthless terror group in recent years, was born in a US-run prison camp in Iraq, which in turn, became a breeding ground for the terror group right under the noses of the Americans.

An ISIS jihadist has made the startling revelation that the prison camp Bucca in Iraq, which signified American presence there after the capture and execution of Saddam Hussein, provided an "extraordinary opportunity" for the prisoners to come together to form the terror group.

"Bucca was a factory. It made us all. It built our ideology. We could never have all got together like this in Baghdad, or anywhere else," Abu Ahmed, a former prisoner and now a senior ISIS member, told The Guardian. "Here, we were not only safe, but we were only a few hundred metres away from the entire al-Qaida leadership."

Ahmed first met Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, now the self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State that has declared a "caliphate" in large parts of Iraq and Syria, in the Bucca camp.

He describes Baghdadi as "remote" during his time in prison and who was "respected by the US Army."

"If he wanted to visit people in another camp [within Bucca] he could, but we couldn't,"
the report quoted Ahmed as saying.

The jihadist adds, "Baghdadi was a quiet person. He has a charisma. You could feel that he was someone important. But there were others who were more important. I honestly did not think he would get this far." 

At the time of Baghdadi's imprisonment in Bucca, an anti-US wave was spreading across the Sunni community in Iraq, which saw America's occupation of Iraq as a ploy to give power to the Shias at the expense of Sunnis, the Guardian report said.

Baghdadi had reportedly been arrested for his role in forming a Sunni militant group, Jeish Ahl al-Sunnah al-Jamaah, back in 2004, much before the Islamic State, which was formed this year.

Ahmed traces the genesis of the terror group in the camp.

"It was the perfect environment. We all agreed to get together when we got out. We wrote each other's details on the elastic of our boxer shorts. When we got out, we called. By 2009, many of us were back doing what we did before we were caught. But this time we were doing it better," Ahmed revealed.

It is clear from the jihadist's interview that it was the US invasion of Iraq and the setting up of prison camps that facilitated the beginnings of what is now the richest, most ruthless and the most feared terror organisation.

The ISIS leader's revelations come at a time when the veracity of the intelligence that led the George Bush government to invade Iraq in 2003 is under the scanner.

A newly-declassified CIA letter released on Thursday has revealed that the agency had doubted the intelligence that prompted the US to invade Iraq on the basis of a "connection" of the 9/11 attacks with the Saddam Hussein regime.

The letter reveals details of a "March 2003 CIA cable, warning the Bush administration against references to the allegation that Mohammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, had met before the attacks in Prague, Czech Republic, with an Iraqi intelligence officer," as stated by the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.