The Secret History of ISIS -- and How the US Could Have Stopped It

Did the United States miss the warning signs to stop ISIS? Yes, says FRONTLINE filmmaker Michael Kirk, the director of nearly a dozen award winning films including "Bush's War," "Endgame," "The Torture Question" and now "The Secret History of ISIS."


“Ever since 2003, I think I’ve made seven or eight films on Iraq and each time I say, ‘this is the last one I’m going to make.’ About six months ago some people came forward who hadn’t spoken before - Colin Powell was one of them - and another was a [former] CIA analyst named Nada Bakos," Michael Kirk told MSNBC today. 

"They came forward and started to talk about a guy named al-Zarqawi who we all remember from the headlines at the time. We thought al-Zarqawi was dead, buried in 2006. But by putting the pieces together, what we’ve done is organize the way that ISIS got started," Kirk said.

As America prepared to take out Saddam Hussein, President Bush was told hitting al-Zarqawi could cause a problem.

“I remember there were discussions about attacking various camps that we thought bad guys were hanging out in. [Some] we made a judgement on - let’s not start the war before we’re ready,” former Secretary of State Colin Powell says in the film.

But the CIA disagreed. 

“It seemed like the perfect moment… I couldn’t believe it. It seemed like the prime opportunity to take out a jihadist that we know poses a threat to our allies and American forces,"  Nada Bakos told Kirk.

So, how exactly did the "international rockstar in the jihadist community" create the world's most feared terrorist organization - or at the very least inspire it? Watch "The Secret History of ISIS" Tuesday 5/17 at 10pm EST to find out more.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.