The CIA War in Kurdistan

The Untold Story of the Northern Front in the Iraq War

Sam Faddis

Early in the summer of 2002 Faddis and seven other CIA officers crossed from Turkey into the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan to begin their mission ot pave the way for the invasion of Iraq. They returned almost a year later having succeeded beyond all expectations—having tied down 150,000 Iraqi soldiers in the north and ultimately led the way into Mos
Date Published :
February 2020
Publisher :
Illustration :
30 photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612008349
Pages : 240
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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Written by leader of the CIA team embedded in Iraq before the war, this is a new and unique perspective on a war that remains controversial and divides opinion.

In early 2002 Sam Faddis was named to head a CIA team that would enter Iraq, prepare the battlefield and facilitate the entry of follow-on conventional military forces numbering in excess of 40,000 American soldiers. This force, built around the 4th Infantry Division would, in partnership with Kurdish forces and with the assistance of Turkey, engage Saddam's army in the north as part of a coming invasion. Faddis expected to be on the ground inside Iraq within weeks and that the entire campaign would likely be over by summer. Over the next year virtually every aspect of that plan for the conduct of the war in Northern Iraq fell apart.

The 4th Infantry Division never arrived nor did any other conventional forces in substantial number. The Turks not only did not provide support, they worked overtime to prevent the U.S. from achieving success. An Arab army that was to assist U.S. forces fell apart before it ever made it to the field.

Alone, hopelessly outnumbered, short on supplies and threatened by Iraqi assassination teams and Islamic extremists Faddis' team, working with Kurdish peshmerga, nonetheless paved the way for a brilliant and largely bloodless victory in the north and the fall of Saddam's Iraq. That victory, handed over to Washington and the Department of Defense on a silver platter, was then squandered.

The surrender of Iraqi forces in the north was spurned. All existing governmental institutions were, in the name of de-Baathification, dismantled. All input from Faddis' team, which had been in country for almost a full year, was ignored. The consequences of these actions were and continue to be catastrophic.

This is the story of an incredibly brave and effective team of men and women who overcame massive odds and helped end the nightmare of Saddam's rule in Iraq. It is also the story of how incompetence, bureaucracy and ignorance threw that success away and condemned Iraq and the surrounding region to chaos.


The Plan
The Team
Getting In—Turks
Why Are You Here?
Missing The Shot
The Return
Security Drills and Plan for Escape
Recruiting Sources—Getting Tough
Hunting WMD
The Boneyard—Chem and Radiation
Management/Leadership and Base Life
The Turks And Tension—Border Closed—Supply Runs
Fishing For Assassins; Propaganda, Transmitters And Country Music
Chalabi And The Pentagon—BADR Corps, Marines, Supply From Space
Mutiny And Training Kurdish Teams
10th Group, Deploying Kurdish Teams, Air War And Hunting Fedayeen
The 173rd Takes Harir, Losing The Surrender
Kirkuk And Mosul
Coming Home


"Faddis’ account is a brutally honest account of austere field conditions, D.C. bureaucratic fumbling, and an inability to keep faith with a constant and loyal Kurdish ally. His book tells a story that, although unwelcome and unflattering to the U.S., needs to be told."

- Journal of Strategic Security

"The CIA War in Kurdistan is a good read. A conflict as large as Operation Iraqi Freedom will get a lot of media and book coverage over the course of time. However, thus far, the war that took place in northern Iraq during OIF has not received much print. Faddis provides an account of that aspect of OIF."

- SOF News

"The CIA War in Kurdistan tells an enthralling and sometimes frustrating tale of a team sent into northern Iraq to work with the Kurds to bring down Sadam Hussein...It is a valuable history of the CIA’s activities before the Iraq War, as well as a stark warning to Washington policy and strategy makers that they should understand their enemies and friends alike before they send their sons and daughters off to war."

- James Stejskal, former US Army Special Forces and CIA officer, author of 'Special Forces Berlin: Clandestine Cold War Operations of the US Army’s Elite, 1956–1990'

"Sam Faddis authors the book and it is direct experience and involvement which gives the reader an incredible and unique perspective that can only be imagined by us normal incredibly enjoyable read and gives the reader a once-in-a-lifetime look into CIA operations and our role in subverting Saddam’s rule."

- Military History Online

"Faddis weaves a tight account of his years as the leader of a hand-selected CIA team that was sent in early 2002 to gather support from Kurdish forces, collect intelligence on weapons of mass destruction, and prepare the way for boots on the ground."

- Terrorism and Political Violence

“The CIA War in Kurdistan is a true story. It is a gripping tale of the secret incursion of a small CIA team of hard and highly trained men and women into a hard land, teeming with tribal mountain warriors. Told in fascinating detail by the team leader, Sam Faddis, nothing is omitted except a few trade secrets and the true names of the team. Instead, we meet Snake, Boomerang, Mom, Angry, Sunshine, T Rex, Lobo and the others. Neither does the author omit the ineptitude and ignorance of CIA Headquarters, the White House and the Pentagon that magnified the deadly risks to the team. Names are named. Some of the inept and ignorant you will recognize, like Bush and Rumsfeld. Others, like LtCol Waltemeyer, you will not know but will not forget. You will see the bone-tired team doggedly survive obstacles put in their way by Washington and Ankara and still complete their mission to aid the takedown of Saddam Hussein. This story is not a Hollywood movie. It is the real deal.”

- Chet Nagle, former CIA agent, and author of Iran Covenant, Woolsorters Plague, and Lazarus Man.

"...deserving of the widest readership possible -- especially when we as a nation are still dealing with the consequences of this troubled and troubling conflict."

- Midwest Book Review

"...tells how Faddis managed to accomplish his mission despite constant operational and bureaucratic conflicts, many of which he left to those who replaced his team to resolve."

- Studies in Intelligence

"Lessons on the importance of a coordinated interagency process abound and provide value to national security professionals."

- Naval Historical Foundation

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