IRAQ. Basra governorate. Near Umm Qasr. March 16, 2009. Detainees walk after prayer at Camp Bucca, a U.S. military detention centre. At its peak, the prison located 340 miles southeast of Baghdad held 26,000 detainees.
Camp Bucca has been described as playing an important role in shaping ISIS. The detention of large numbers of Jihadists and ex-Ba’athists during the Iraqi insurgency provided them with the opportunity to forge alliances and learn from each other, combining the ideological fervour of the former with the organisational skills of the latter. Former Camp Bucca detainees who went on to become leaders in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant include Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Daesh; Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, al-Baghdadi’s deputy; Haji Bakr, who spearheaded ISIL’s expansion into Syria; Abu Abdulrahman al-Bilawi, the military leader responsible for planning the seizure of Mosul; and Abu Ayman al-Iraqi, another senior military leader. Abu Mohammad al-Julani, who founded the Syrian Al Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, was also a Camp Bucca detainee.
Photograph: Yuri Kozyrev/Noor