The Islamic State, the radical group which has cut a bloody path through Syria and Iraq in recent months, slaying civilians and security forces, and executing the American journalist James Foley on camera, has even more followers than previously believed, according to Iraqi security sources.
In addition to foot soldiers, the Islamic State has also attracted a number of former high level army officers from Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime, said Hashimi. (Many Baathists fought American troops after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.)
“Most of those who joined — and I know them personally — are either former army officers or their sons,” said Salem Aljomaily, a security expert and a former intelligence officer. In terms of how the new recruits are organized, Aljomaily said that “the high ranking officers are the military planners, and their sons and the younger officers are being used as fighters.”“Most of those who joined — and I know them personally — are either former army officers or their sons,”
If true, the numbers suggest that the militant organization is growing by leaps and bounds as it conquers territory in the region.