The Evolution of an Insurgent

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Islamic State commander, Hassan Aboud, from a YouTube video

Yesterday’s New York Times featured a piece by C.J. Chivers on the rise of Islamic State’s Hassan Aboud. Aboud was a cement hauler in 2011 before Syria’s revolution, but he was prepared. A combination of connections and training in 2005 in Iraq with Zarqawi’s AQI along with an apparently well equipped cache of supplies made him one of Syria’s top rebel commanders  in 2012. He attracted the attention of IS and made the choice to pledge bayat. Today’s he is another middle manager in IS whose brigade has likely fought in Aleppo, Kobani, Homs, and Palmyra.

Chiver’s piece is richly detailed for such a notoriously shadowing organization and I highly recommend it for anyone who is curious about the transformation of insurgents—in this case from cement hauler to emir in the Islamic State. Aboud’s story reminds me of a quote from Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy:

It makes no difference what men think of war, said the judge. War endures. As well ask men what they think of stone. War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner. That is the way it was and will be. That way and not some other way.

“Behind the Black Flag: The Recruitment of an ISIS Killer” by C.J. Chivers