Every once in a while you see a news article that highlights the fact that Saddam's thugs are a major part of ISIL's leadership, but it is rare to read about these "secular" thugs. Strategypage writes about it:
The growing number of ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) men who have been interrogated because they were captured, or deserted has provided a better picture of how ISIL is organized. Not surprisingly, given the number of ISIL leaders who once worked for Saddam Hussein, ISIL military organization is very similar to Saddam’s “Republic of Fear” of the 1990s. This includes having something every successful dictatorship has created; a "regime maintenance" force. For ISIL this is the Shield of Islam, a brigade of carefully selected (especially for loyalty), well-armed, well trained and well led men. The Shield of Islam protects ISIL leadership from unruly or dissenting ISIL members as well as hostile action by anyone else.
These people are still trying to rebuild their Sunni Arab dictatorship in Iraq. And if ISIL could defeat Iraq, the 4,000-man Shield of Islam would be the tool to enforce their rule once back in the palace. Saddam had his Republican Guards for this--and later the Special Republican Guard, when the Republican Guard was expanded in the late 1980s to be the army's mobile force.
And it is a little bit of karma in action that these Baathists are using Syrian territory to support that effort, using the jihadi pipeline that Syria set up to funnel terrorist jihadi recruits from the Moslem world into Iraq where they fought against us alongside Saddam's resistance. This effort has nearly wrecked the Assad regime that was a partner in this effort.
And remember this when you hear nonsensical charges that our overthrow of Saddam "created" ISIL. Saddam's evil continues to plague us.