FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Why ISIS Fighters are Being Thrown Off Buildings in Mosul

Photo by DVIDSHUB | CC BY 2.0

Iraqi security forces kill Isis prisoners because they believe that if the militants are sent to prison camps they will bribe the authorities in Baghdad to release them. “That is why Iraqi soldiers prefer to shoot them or throw them off high buildings,” says one Iraqi source. A former senior Iraqi official said he could name the exact sum that it would take for an Isis member to buy papers enabling him to move freely around Iraq.

The belief by Iraqi soldiers and militiamen that their own government is too corrupt to keep captured Isis fighters in detention is one reason why the bodies of Isis suspects, shot in the head or body and with their hands tied behind their backs, are found floating in the Tigris river downstream from Mosul. Revenge and hatred provoked by Isis atrocities are motives for extrajudicial killings by death squads, but so is distrust of an Iraqi judicial system, which is notoriously corrupt and dysfunctional.

Paranoia at the end of a very violent war partially explains why so many Iraqis are convinced that dangerous Isis members can always bribe their way to freedom. Dozens of posts on social media from Baghdad allege that suicide bombers who blow themselves up killing many civilians had previously been detained by the security forces and released in return for money. “We die in Baghdad because of corruption,” reads one post, frequently shared with others. One tweet says: “Daesh [Isis] pays the government and kills us in Baghdad.”

Fears may be exaggerated, but are not entirely without substance. Isis may have suffered heavy losses in Mosul, but can still operate. A senior Kurdish official said that “recently, during the funeral of a leader of the Shammar tribe in Rabia, no less than 17 Isis suicide bombers were discovered. This shows they can still plan and carry out operations even if they are weaker.”

Anti-Isis residents in Mosul are now making the same allegation. “I know two men in my neighbourhood notorious for being members of Daesh who have just been released by the government,” complains Saleem Mohammed, a resident of the Nabi Yunus district in east Mosul. “One of them used to go on Daesh patrols in the markets here to look for people who were smoking cigarettes.” He added that people were frightened that the suspected collaborators, who had been freed, were members of Isis “sleeper cells” or had now been recruited as Iraqi government spies.

Saleem says that an important cause of distrust between those who had always opposed Isis and those who had joined it or collaborated with it is that the latter had often developed prosperous businesses during the three years that Isis was in power. He said that “many of these collaborators have shops in the markets and people buy from them, though they may shun the owners”. He knew one man who had been poor before Isis arrived, but made money working as a security man at Isis checkpoints where large bribes were often paid for free passage. The man had been arrested, was released and has now moved with his family to Turkey.

Isis commanders and militants often came from impoverished Sunni villages on the outskirts of Mosul that look like a collection of huts. While they controlled Mosul there was hostility between them and the traditional inhabitants of the city. “What is provoking particular anger in Mosul is that well-off Daesh families are being released and coming back to live in well-furnished apartments, while poor people are still living in the camps,” says Saleem.

The situation in east Mosul is far better than in the west of the city because it was always wealthier, saw less destruction from air strikes and artillery, and has been free from Isis control for six months. Though the Iraqi government claims to have won a complete victory over Isis in the Old City in west Mosul, there is still the occasional sound of gunfire and air strikes. There is an exodus of people across the Tigris river from neighbourhoods in the west that are damaged but not totally destroyed to east Mosul where there is electricity and water. A shortage of accommodation for those moving within the city has led to a tripling of rents.

A crucial boost to the economy of Mosul is that the government is paying back salaries for public employees that were not paid under Isis rule. Education, health and municipal workers are getting their salaries leading to much more activity in the local markets. People have started buying cars and property again and there are long queues of trucks bringing goods from Irbil and Kurdish controlled areas into the city.

More articles by:

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
February 27, 2020
Jim Kavanagh
Bloomberg’s Game
Kenneth Surin
Trump in Modi’s India
Jonathan Cook
How We Stay Blind to the Story of Power
David Swanson
Bernie Finally Puts a Number on Cutting Military Spending
Nyla Ali Khan
Jammu and Kashmir Cannot be Reduced to Rubble
Aya Majzoub
Return to Bahrain: Nine Years After the Uprisings, the Nation’s Human Rights Record Has Worsened
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange Against the Imperium
Dean Baker
The NYT’s Analysis of Democratic Tax Plans: a Really Big Number Orgy
Lawrence Wittner
Trump Betrays His Promise to Protect and Fight for American Workers
George Wuerthner
Wilderness Preservation is Our Best Protection Against Wildfires
Brian Horejsi
Dancing Bears Weren’t Having Fun
Jesse Jackson
The Important Word in “Democratic Socialism” is Democratic
John Stanton
Democratic Socialism: From Fromm to Sanders
February 26, 2020
Matthew Hoh
Heaven Protect Us From Men Who Live the Illusion of Danger: Pete Buttigieg and the US Military
Jefferson Morley
How the US Intelligence Community is Interfering in the 2020 Elections
Patrick Cockburn
With Wikileaks, Julian Assange Did What All Journalists Should Do
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change and Voting 2020
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Russiagate: The Toxic Gift That Keeps on Giving
Andrew Bacevich
Going Off-Script in the Age of Trump
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Anti-Russian Xenophobia Reaches Ridiculous Levels
Ted Rall
Don’t Worry, Centrists. Bernie Isn’t Radical.
George Wuerthner
Whatever Happened to the Greater Yellowstone Coalition?
Scott Tucker
Democratic Socialism in the Twenty-First Century
Jonah Raskin
The Call of the Wild (2020): A Cinematic Fairy Tale for the Age of Environmental Disaster
George Ochenski
Why We Shouldn’t Run Government Like a Business
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange and the Imperium’s Face: Day One of the Extradition Hearings
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s Extradition Hearing Reveals Trump’s War on Free Press Is Targeting WikiLeaks Publisher
Peter Harrison
Is It as Impossible to Build Jerusalem as It is to Escape Babylon? (Part Two)
Max Moran
Meet Brad Karp, the Top Lawyer Bankrolling the Democrats
David Swanson
Nonviolent Action for Peace
Ed Sanders
The Ex-Terr GooGoo Eyes “The Russkies Did it!” Plot
February 25, 2020
Michael Hudson
The Democrats’ Quandary: In a Struggle Between Oligarchy and Democracy, Something Must Give
Paul Street
The “Liberal” Media’s Propaganda War on Bernie Sanders
Sheldon Richman
The Non-Intervention Principle
Nicholas Levis
The Real Meaning of Red Scare 3.0
John Feffer
Cleaning Up Trump’s Global Mess
David Swanson
How Are We Going to Pay for Saving Trillions of Dollars?
Ralph Nader
Three Major News Stories That Need To Be Exposed
John Eskow
What Will You Do If the Democrats Steal It from Sanders?
Dean Baker
What If Buttigieg Said That He Doesn’t Accept the “Fashionable” View That Climate Change is a Problem?
Jack Rasmus
The Nevada Caucus and the Desperation of Democrat Elites
Howard Lisnoff
The Powerful Are Going After Jane Fonda Again
Binoy Kampmark
Viral Losses: Australian Universities, Coronavirus and Greed
John W. Whitehead
Gun-Toting Cops Endanger Students and Turn Schools into Prisons
Marshall Sahlins
David Brooks, Public Intellectual
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail