Comparing the evolution of IS and the IRA

There is a remarkable parallel between the rise of the so-called Islamic State (IS), and the evolution of the IRA in Northern Ireland, says the BBC’s Peter Taylor, who covered the conflict for over 40 years.

The force of the comparison hit me when I was recently in Iraq investigating where and how the leadership of IS came together, for a BBC Two This World documentary. It was forged in a most unlikely place, an American internment camp in the sands of southern Iraq called Camp Bucca, named after Ronald Bucca, a New York fire fighter killed in the 9/11 attacks.

Over 20,000 suspected Iraqi insurgents – mostly Sunni – were incarcerated there until its final closure following the US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011.

Key elements of the IRA’s leadership also came together three decades earlier in an internment camp in Northern Ireland known as Long Kesh. Camp Bucca and Long Kesh have entered the folklore of the two insurgencies.

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