Al-Douri's family hails from the region around Tikrit, where his father worked as an ice seller. He is apparently known as The Ice Man because in his youth he sold blocks of ice from a donkey cart. He later worked as a teacher.
At the time of the invasion, al-Douri, along with President Saddam Hussein and Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, was among the three surviving plotters who had brought the Ba'ath Party to power in a coup in 1968. Following the coup, he had continued to retain a prominent position in the Ba'ath regime. This was aided by the fact that al-Douri came from the same clan area as Saddam and had not acquired a distinct power base; thus he did not pose a threat to Saddam's ambitions.
It is alleged that al-Douri played a key role in the chemical shelling of rebellious Kurdish villagers near the city of Halabja in 1988, that resulted in the deaths of 5,000 civilians. Following the Gulf War, he was frequently sent abroad to represent Iraqi interests. His daughter was briefly married to Uday Hussein al-Tikriti, a son of President Saddam Hussein. Due to Uday's continuous feuds with his uncles, however, he later divorced her.
In 1999, while in Austria, where he went unofficially to treat his leukemia, al-Douri was implicated in war crimes. The Austrian opposition demanded that he be arrested, pointing to his role in Iraq's regime, but he was allowed by the government to leave the country.
On 20 March 2003, U.S. forces invaded Iraq, leading to the toppling of the regime of President Saddam Hussein on 9 April 2003. Following the fall of Baghdad, al-Douri went into hiding. U.S. officials claimed that he was involved in the subsequent Iraqi insurgency against U.S. forces, directing and funding guerrilla attacks, as well as brokering an alliance between Ba'athist insurgents and militant Islamists. The U.S. authorities issued a US$10 million reward for any information leading to his capture. Other reports, however, suggested that he was suffering from leukemia and was directing all his energy to avoiding capture.
Al-Douri is the "King of Clubs" in the "most-wanted Iraqi playing cards". Following the capture of Saddam Hussein, he became the most wanted man in Iraq, although as time went on, he became overshadowed by the then leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (now deceased).
Paul Wolfowitz, who was then Deputy Secretary of Defense, named al-Douri as the leader of the Iraqi resistance on 23 June 2004, insisting that the Iraqi resistance was not an insurgency, but a continuation of the former Ba'athist government. 'Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri is especially associated with the Sunni insurgent front Jaysh Muhammad.
On 5 September 2004, Iraq's defense ministry announced that al-Douri had been captured in the town of Tikrit. However, later medical tests showed that the man in custody was a relative of 'Izzat Ibrahim, and not 'Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri himself.
Later in November 2005, however, the Iraqi Ba'ath Party's political media and publishing office announced that the earlier reports were in error and that al-Douri was, in fact, still very much alive. His family members have also released statements to the press to that effect.
On 27 March 2006, al-Jazeera broadcast a tape purportedly of al-Douri speaking to the Arab League summit in Khartoum, Sudan, several days previously. The speaker on the tape, identified by al-Jazeera as 'Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri (sic), calls for Arab support for the Sunni insurgents in Iraq, which he described as "the sole legitimate representative of the Iraqi people".
On 24 July 2006, al-Douri gave an interview to Time magazine through written questions and answers passed between Time and al-Douri by Iraqi intermediaries. In the interview, al-Douri claimed that his Iraqi Army remained in command of 95% of the Iraqi Resistance and attacked al-Zarqawi's tactics, accusing him of playing into "hateful sectarianism" and called on his fighters to direct their attacks against the occupation forces.
Following the execution of former President of Iraq and leader of the Iraqi Baath Party Saddam Hussein, 'Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was a leading candidate to succeed him as Leader of the Iraqi Baath Party and had been endorsed by a previously unknown group calling itself Baghdad Citizens Gathering.
On 3 January 2007, the web site of the banned Iraqi Baath Party confirmed that al-Douri is now the new leader of the Baath Party. Even so, younger figures such as Mohammed Younis al-Ahmed al-Muwali are thought likely to be serious rivals for his position, especially as Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri is believed to be ill with diabetes.
Increasing Syrian influence in the Iraqi Baath Party could well have a major effect on who is chosen to lead Baathist parts of the Insurgency, which is at risk of fragmentation.
Al-Douri's whereabouts are not known, although it is believed he spent some time after the 2003 Iraq War in hiding in Syria. Some press reports in August and September 2007 claimed that he and other Baathist leaders had secretly met US officials and representatives of the Iraqi government with a view to bringing the Ba'ath Party into the political process in the run-up to withdrawal of Coalition forces from Iraq, and to secure their assistance against Al-Qaeda activities inside Iraq.
In early October 2007, the formation of an alliance of 22 insurgent groups called the Supreme Command for Jihad and Liberation was announced, and Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was declared its leader.
In early July 2008 A message, broadcast by Al-Arabiya, purported to be from Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri called on insurgents to make a final push against US forces and "strike the enemy everywhere".