Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri

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Izzat Ibrahim Al-Douri
عزت ابراهيم الدوري
Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri portrait.png
Regional Secretary of the Regional Command of the Iraqi Regional Branch
Assumed office
3 January 2007
Preceded by Saddam Hussein
Deputy Secretary of the Regional Command of the Iraqi Regional Branch
In office
September 1991 – 3 January 2007
Preceded by Taha Yassin Ramadan
Succeeded by Unknown
Vice Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council
In office
16 July 1979 – 9 April 2003
President Saddam Hussein
Preceded by Saddam Hussein
Succeeded by Post abolished
Member of the Regional Command of the Iraqi Regional Branch
Assumed office
October 1966 - 9 April 2003
Personal details
Born (1942-07-01) 1 July 1942 (age 72)
Ad-Dawr, Saladin Province
Kingdom of Iraq
Nationality Iraqi
Political party Iraqi Ba'ath Party
Religion Sufi Islam[1]
Military service
Allegiance Baathist Iraq
Service/branch Iraqi Army
Years of service 1962-2003
Rank Iraqi field marshal Field Marshal
Unit Political Guidance Directorate
Commands 2nd Infantry Division (1977-1981)
Battles/wars Iran-Iraq War

1991 Iraq War

1991 uprisings in Iraq
2003 Iraq War
Northern Iraq offensive

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri (Arabic: عزت ابراهيم الدوري‘Izzat Ibrāhīm ad-Dūrī; born 1 July 1942) is an Iraqi fugitive and a former commander of the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order. He was an Iraqi military commander and was Vice Chairman of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council, until the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.[2][3]

Al-Douri was the most high profile Ba'athist official to successfully evade capture after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and was the king of clubs in the infamous most-wanted Iraqi playing cards. Al-Douri continued to lead elements of the Iraqi insurgency such as the Ba'athist Sufi Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order against the then occupation forces and wages an insurgency against the current regime in Baghdad to this day; he has been described as "the hidden Sheikh of the Men of the Naqshbandi".[4] Following the execution of former President Saddam Hussein on 30 December 2006, Al-Douri was confirmed as the new leader of the banned Iraqi Ba'ath Party on 3 January 2007.[5]


Born in 1942, Al-Douri began his life in his hometown of Ad-Dawr, near the Iraqi town of Tikrit, where he sold ice blocks. He came from an impoverished background, and became involved in revolutionary politics in his late teenage years. He worked alongside Saddam Hussein, and both served in the early intelligence apparatus of the Ba'ath Party. Both participated in what would be known as the 17 July Revolution in 1968.[6]


2003 invasion of Iraq[edit]

Izzat Ibrahim Al-Douri (right) with a foreign guest, 1988

At the time of the invasion of Iraq, Al-Douri, along with President Saddam Hussein and Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, was among the three surviving plotters who had brought the Ba'ath Party to power in a coup in 1968.[3] Saddam's eldest son Uday Hussein was once married to Al-Douri's daughter, but he later divorced her.[3] On 22 November 1998, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri escaped an assassination attempt when visiting Karbala.

Al-Douri is also believed to be suffering from leukemia and is said to undergo blood transfusions every six months. In 1999, he visited Vienna, Austria for treatment. The Austrian opposition demanded that he be arrested for war crimes, but the government allowed him to leave the country.

After the 2003 invasion[edit]

On 20 March 2003, U.S.-led coalition forces invaded Iraq, leading to the toppling of the regime of President Saddam Hussein on 9 April 2003. Following the fall of Baghdad, Al-Douri went into hiding. U.S. officials claimed that he was involved in the subsequent Iraqi insurgency against U.S. forces, directing and funding attacks, as well as brokering an alliance between Ba'athist insurgents and militant Islamists. In a June 2008 interview, Al-Douri detailed his strategy, indicating that "any negotiations with the invaders without it represents a desertion and treason, and is refused by all national, Pan-Arab and Islamic factions of the resistance."[7]

  1. An official pronounced recognition of the armed and unarmed national resistance, including all its factions and (political) parties, as the sole legitimate representative of the people of Iraq.
  2. An official declaration of unconditional withdrawal from Iraq by the U.S. leadership.
  3. Declaring null and void all the political and legislative institutions, as well as all the laws and legislations issued by them, since the occupation, with the de-Ba'athfication law in the forefront, and compensating all who were adversely affected by them.
  4. A stop to raids, prosecutions, arrests, killings and displacement.
  5. Release of all prisoners of war (POWs), prisoners and detainees without exception and compensating all for their physical and psychological damage.
  6. Reinstating the army and the national security forces in service in accordance with their pre-occupation laws and regulations, and compensating all who were adversely affected by dissolving them.
  7. A pledge to compensate Iraq for all the material and moral losses it incurred because of the occupation.

Al-Douri is reportedly the head of the Iraqi rebel group Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order as well as the Supreme Command for Jihad and Liberation based on his longstanding positions of leadership in the Naqshbandi sect in Iraq.[1] In 2009 General David Petraeus, who was at the time heading the United States Central Command, told reporters from Al Arabiya that al-Douri was residing in Syria.[8]

Resurfacing and video evidence[edit]

Izzat Ibrahim Al-Douri addressing the Iraqi people, January 2013

On November 10, 2011, a man claiming to be Izzat Ibrahim Al-Douri released an audio tape condemning a recent arrest campaign targeting suspected Ba'ath Party members.

The first visual evidence of his survival surfaced on April 7, 2012 when a video posted online[9] showed him giving a speech. In the shots he is seen wearing an olive military uniform and glasses, denouncing the Shiite-led government in Baghdad and interference in Iraqi politics by regional Shia powerhouse Iran. "Everyone can hear the sounds of danger echoing daily and threatening this country," Al-Douri says during the hour-long broadcast. Prime Minister Maliki's personal adviser Ali Al-Moussawi said the tape had a propaganda function, but that he doubted al-Douri was still in Iraq as he required extensive medical care for a number of illnesses.[10]

One Iraqi MP stated that he believes Al-Douri is residing in Qatar.[11]

On January 5, 2013, a 53-minute video was released on YouTube in which Al-Douri encouraged recent Sunni protests in Nineveh and Anbar provinces against Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, saying that "the people of Iraq and all its nationalist and Islamic forces support you until the realization of your just demands for the fall of the Safavid-Persian alliance". The message, which showed the Ba'athist leader sitting behind a desk with a small Saddam era flag on it, was partially broadcast on the Al Arabiya news channel. In the video, released just before the Iraqi Army Day on January 6, Douri claimed to be somewhere in Iraq's Babil Province.[12][13] Hours after the tape was released, Iraqi military intelligence arrested Abdul Rahman Mohammed Ibrahim, the nephew of Al-Douri, in Saladin Province.[14]

In April 2013 the Iraqi Government claimed to be closing in on Al-Douri, who they claimed was moving between Tikrit and the towns of Hawija and Dour, which is alleged to be an area of strong support for Al-Douri, and also where he is also claimed to own a villa.[15]

A report surfaced in June 2013 of former Iraqi Ba'ath officials supplying the chemical weapon Sarin to the Al-Nusra Front through former Iraqi Military Industries Brig. Gen. Adnan al-Dulaimi. The report detailed how "several former Iraqi military engineers trained the Al-Nusra Front on how to use these chemical weapons” adding that all plans in this connection were prepared by al-Dulaimi and staged after al-Douri's approval. The sourcing of this report is said to be an aide to al-Douri.[16]

2014 and the fall of Mosul[edit]

Al-Douri has been pointed out as one of the main commanders responsible for successful takeover by rebel groups of North Iraq and the city of Mosul in June 2014.[17] The Naqshbandi Army, along with other groups lead by former Ba'ath officers, are reported to have assumed an increasingly large role in the governance and administration of occupied cities. Militants were reported to have appointed fellow Ba'ath generals Azhar al-Obeidi and Ahmed Abdul Rashid as the governors of Mosul and Tikrit.[18] Shortly afterwards, reports emerged that the Ba'ath Party under Al-Douri's leadership declared war on fellow rebel group ISIS.[19] Other reports still maintain a certain degree of cooperation between the two groups.[20]


  1. ^ a b "The JRTN Movement and Iraq’s Next Insurgency". Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. 
  2. ^ "Saddam's No. 2 seeks help for insurgency". USA Today. March 27, 2006. 
  3. ^ a b c "Izzat Ibrahim Al-Douri / Izzat Ibrahim Al-Douri". Global Security. 
  4. ^ Knights, Michael (24 June 2014). "Saddam Hussein's Faithful Friend, the King of Clubs, Might Be the Key to Saving Iraq". New Republic. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  5. ^ "Saddam aide is new Ba'ath leader", BBC News, 3 January 2007.
  6. ^ Michael Knights. "Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri: Is Saddam Hussein's Pal Key to Stopping ISIS? - The New Republic". The New Republic. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  7. ^ Nasser, Nicola (June 10, 2008). "Izzat Ibrahim Al-Douri Outlines Anti-US Strategy, Tactics of Resistance, an Interview Translated". Cross-Cultural Understanding. 
  8. ^ "US giving security support to Yemen: Petraeus". Al Arabiya. December 13, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Al-Douri's full statement on YouTube (arabic)". 
  10. ^ "Iraq: Video appears to show top Saddam deputy". Google News. 
  11. ^ http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9101141223
  12. ^ "Baath Leader Urges Sunnis to Protest Iraqi Premier". New York Times. 
  13. ^ "Fugitive Saddam-era VP backs Iraq demos in video". The Daily Star Lebanon. 
  14. ^ "Nephew of Izzat Al-Douri arrested". National Iraq News Agency (NINA). 
  15. ^ al-Salhy, Suadad (18 April 2013). "Iraqi forces hunt Saddam's former deputy". Reuters (Baghdad). 
  16. ^ "Putin claims proof Syrian rebels used chemical weapons". WND. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  17. ^ Iraq Militants, Pushing South, Aim at Capital
  18. ^ Northern Iraq offensive (June 2014)#cite note-74
  19. ^ "Baath in Iraq declares war on ISIS". Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  20. ^ "Naqshbandi Army Statement- 7 August: Analysis and Translation". August 2014. Retrieved 2015. 
Party political offices
Preceded by
Saddam Hussein
Leader of the Ba'ath Party
Succeeded by