Monday, November 21, 2016

First-Hand Narrative Escaping Death

"I thought, 'This is it, it's over. We've lived under the rule of Islamic State for more than two years and we know that nobody survives such things."
"They said anyone who disobeyed would be killed."
"The Islamic State was breathing its last breath [in Mosul, Iraq] so I decided to run."
"I thought of my wife and son and how I'd never see them again. I got shot, but I didn't know how many times. I felt things hitting my back."
"They [Islamic State gunmen] were screaming and shouting. As soon as I heard that, I saw my chance."
"It was dark, maybe they weren't that focused It seems they were just shooting randomly."
"As for me, I've seen death, and I feel reborn."
"Those people [Islamic State jihadi terrorists] are monsters, killers; they don't have any humanity."
Imad, Islamic State victim escapee, Safiya, Iraq

An Iraqi federal police officer examines human remains at a mass grave of Islamic State victims near Hamam al-Alil. (Marko Drobnjakovic/AP)

The man who managed to escape an organized mass murder by sheer good luck, is grateful to be alive and hoping soon to be reunited with his wife and his infant son. He has returned to his native village while his wife and child remain in ISIL territory. He hopes, finally, to be able to live a normal life, having escaped death, while a witness to the mass slaughter of other men like him from the same village, and others yet who, like him were former police officers, targeted for death by Islamic State terrorists, working off their rage at losing their grip on Mosul.

He is a Sunni Iraqi and he cannot help but feel concerned over what life will be like for him and other Sunnis  under the aegis of Iraqi forces, mostly Shiite, like the government of Iraq. He accuses the Iraqi forces of looting and damaging village property while in the process of cleansing it of Islamic State control. But he is resigned to take life as it comes now, reasoning that he and other Iraqi Sunnis living under the ordeal of punishing Islamic State dominion will learn to adjust to the hardships of living under Iraqi military rule.

He lived to tell his tale, after being blindfolded and bound, prepared to be shot in the head, his body discarded like a dirty rag, shovelled into a mass pit. He had been taken by truck along with about a hundred other former Iraqi police and army officers to an industrial area remote from town, about 15 kilometres south of Mosul. They had all been rounded up from nearby villages. His was the first truck unloaded. He was shot in the leg, and the other thuds hitting his back were stones kicked up by misfired bullets.

The terrorists had filmed their new atrocity, forcing each of the men to give name and security forces position they once held. Blindfolded, hands bound, they were informed they were "going to hell". In the darkness that prevailed in their isolated position, someone attempted an escape and a commotion ensued. When he was shot in the leg, Imad pretended he was dead until he saw an opportunity to beak away, run and escape re-capture.

Sunni Iraqis who had served in the police and army had been allowed for the past two and a half years to remain in the ISIL-held territory as long as they agreed to take part in a ceremony, through a process known as towba, to repent their sins. This did not remove them completely from suspicion, however, and as the terrorists came increasingly under fire by Iraqi troops assaulting them to retake Mosul, they began to round up the former police and military men from various villages surrounding the city.

Imad had been on the police force for seven years. He described his ordeal to the security forces into whose hands he fell after fleeing the roundup and death, by walking all night to free himself from the presence of Islamic State jihadis. Imad informed the security forces that double the number of 50 former police officers executed in Hamam al-Alil last month had been killed where he was taken, near a cement factory. Iraqi police forces found the mass grave at the location Imad described, containing 100 bodies.

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