A new report published at the New York Post revealed that a US prison camp helped in creating Daesh.
Camp Bucca was the primary detention facility for US 'enemy prisoners of war' in Iraq, the paper said.
"To Mitchell Gray, then 48 and serving his country for the third time, it was simply the place where the US Army had decided his skills, which included a law degree and a fluency in Arabic, were needed most," the report said.
"He and the rest of his unit, the 45th Infantry Brigade of the Oklahoma National Guard, were flying helicopters in from Kuwait. It was shortly after landing that he got a first glimpse at a few of the 26,000 detainees, staring at him from the other side of the concertina wire."
"You never see hatred on the faces of Americans like you saw on the faces of these detainees," Gray remembers of his 2008 tour.
"When I say they hated us, I mean they looked like they would have killed us in a heartbeat if given the chance. I turned to the warrant officer I was with and I said, 'If they could, they would rip our heads off and drink our blood'," Gray said.
What Gray didn't know — but might have expected — was that he was not merely looking at the United States' former enemies, but its future ones as well. According to intelligence experts and Department of Defense records, the vast majority of the leadership of what is today known as Daesh, including its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, did time at Camp Bucca, the report revealed.
Not only did the US feed, clothe and house these jihadists, it also played a vital, if unwitting, role in facilitating their transformation into the most formidable terrorist force in modern history, the report said.
Camp Bucca started as a place to stick 'bad actors where they could not harm US troops', the paper said. "The dilemma of the camp began almost immediately after the invasion. During that chaotic time, coalition forces — unable to distinguish friend from foe — were sweeping up huge numbers of military-aged males and warehousing them at Bucca."
"We knew there were some bad guys in there somewhere," said a former officer at Bucca. "The question was which ones? It was a constant game between the guards and the detainees."
The camp was divided into compounds of roughly 1,000 inmates. The Americans knew Sunnis and Shiites, the two main factions of Islam in Iraq, could not be incarcerated in the same compound if the camp was to remain peaceful.
They also quickly learned moderate Sunnis and extreme Sunnis could not be kept together. The extremists instituted Sharia Law, the canonical law of Islam, and either radicalized the moderates or punished them for failing to toe the line, gouging their eyeballs or cutting out their tongues.
It was a sound strategy for keeping peace at a prison. For the larger war on terror, it turned out to be a disaster. By putting the worst of the worst together, the US was essentially hosting a terrorist convention, the paper said.
"Bucca didn't create the problem of anti-American sentiment, but it exacerbated the problem by localizing it and concentrating it,” said Michael Weiss, co-author of 'Daesh: Inside the Army of Terror.' "If you were a jihadist, Bucca became the place to be."
Early in Bucca's existence, the most extreme inmates were congregated in Compound 6. There were not enough Americans guards to safely enter the compound — and, in any event, the guards didn't speak Arabic. So the detainees were left alone to preach to one another and share deadly vocational advice, the paper added.