Now that US President Donald Trump has officially confirmed the death of ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the debate over his dubious background has once again dominated the conversations on social media. Social media users and experts on international affairs have often debated if the notorious Islamic State and its dreaded chief Baghdadi enjoyed the backing of Israel arguing that the dreaded terrorist organisation’s actions were in sharp contradictions with the teachings of Islam that it claimed to represent.
The claims of a possible link between Baghdadi’s Islamic State and Israeli military gained considerable legitimacy after a former head of Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad made a stunning confession stating that his country was actively providing medical aid to the fighters of al-Nusra Front on the Syrian border.
Speaking to Mehdi Hasan on Al Jazeera’s programme, UpFront, in 2016, Efraim Halevy said that he was not concerned that Israel had treated fighters in Syria from al-Nusra Front, which is essentially al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch.
“It’s always useful […] to deal with your enemies in a humane way,” Halevy had said.
When Hasan pressed him on whether he believed the assistance was purely humanitarian, Halevy had responded, “I didn’t say there’s no tactical [consideration]. I said the main consideration, the immediate consideration is humane.”
Halevy, however, had made it clear that his country would not support the treatment of wounded Hezbollah fighters because Israel had been targeted by Hezbollah, but “not specifically targeted by al-Qaeda.”
Al-Nusra Front and its links with Al-Qaeda
Al-Nusra or The Front for the Defence of the Syrian People, according to BBC, first announced its existence with a video posted online in January 2012. In the statement, the group said that it was behind many of the suicide bombings that had rocked Syria since the uprising began in March 2011.
Halevy’s stunning admission to Al-Jazeera TV assumed significance in light of the realignment of al-Nusra in Syria in 2013, when it announced merging with al-Qaeda in the war-ravaged country.
Al-Nusra’s pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda had come in April 2013, just days after al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, had called on jihadis to do everything possible to bring about an Islamic state in Syria. Soon, al-Nusra front’s official website began to post messages of al-Qaeda leaders.
Israel’s support to al-Nusra came to light even as the US blacklisted the group as a terrorist organisation in response to the bombing campaigns. While Israel only confirmed providing medical help to the ‘terrorist organisation’ in 2016, United Nations Documents on UNDOF (official UN source) had documented Israeli interactions with the Syrian rebels long before.
Israel’s links with ISIS
A new report by the UN in 2015 revealed that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) had maintained regular contact with members of the ISIS since May 2013.
Reporting on the UN findings, addictinginfo.org wrote in February 2015, “It is revealed that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were maintaining regular contact with members of the so-called Islamic State since May of 2013. Initial reports from the IDF stated that this was only for medical care for civilians, but that story fell apart when the UN observers identified direct contact between IDF forces and ISIS soldiers, including giving medical care to ISIS fighters. Observations even included the transfer of two crates from the IDF to ISIS forces, the contents of which have not been confirmed at this time. Further, the UN report identified what the Syrians label a crossing point of forces between Israel and ISIS, a point of concern brought before the UN Security Council. This report from the UN strengthens the claims by the Syrian regime that Israel is heavily involved in operations within the nation.”
What’s more! When the United States first began its operations against ISIS, the Israeli high command had seemed reluctant in extending its support and called the move a mistake.