Among the more bizarre headlines to surface from the Iraqi warfront against jihadist terror group the Islamic State is the following– a report that an Islamic State encampment was reduced to chaos by a stray donkey the jihadists mistook for an intruding military threat.
The report has surfaced on the website IraqiNews.com, and cites only one anonymous source who claims to have heard the event. IraqiNews.com often reports stories using anonymous sources, since many reports come from deep within Islamic State-held territory. This event, they note, occurred on Wednesday in Diyala province, which IraqiNews describes as “the most important stronghold of the ISIS organization northeast of Baquba.”
The witness claims that a “stray donkey” walked towards an ISIS military barrier and was mistaken for an enemy combatant. Islamic State jihadists were so concerned about the donkey they are said to have used loudspeakers installed in the area to warn of a “surprise attack.” “Chaos spread through the organization,” says the source, for about half an hour. The donkey did not survive.
The story highlights the difficulty that the Islamic State has had in recruiting well-trained soldiers– rather than young men traveling in from the West eager to kill– which has also weakened their “state” infrastructure. In a report late last month, the Washington Post highlighted the Islamic State’s desperate need for professionals in a number of fields, both military and civilian, to keep Kurdish and Iraqi military from retaking land they have conquered and to maintain infrastructure necessary for daily life. Citing “disorganized, erratic leadership,” the report notes that food and medicine are increasingly scarce in Islamic State-held areas, and diseases are spreading in large part due to a lack of an organized sanitation system– apparently no ISIS jihadist wants to be responsible for safely disposing of waste.
Reports surfacing this week from Mosul– Iraq’s second-largest city and increasingly the Islamic State’s de facto capital in Iraq– bode ill for the state experiment. Workers at hospitals have told Kurdish and Iraqi sources that Islamic State jihadists traveling into the region from Africa have arrived at hospitals with severe fever, vomiting, and diarrhea– symptoms of the deadly Ebola virus. While the news is not confirmed, largely because Mosul’s hospital does not have the resources to test for Ebola, such an epidemic could be devastating to the terrorist group and those being forced to live under their rule.
To make up for those that are lost to disease or war, the Islamic State is attempting to indoctrinate as many children as possible to commit to a life of jihad. This week, ISIS leaders released a manual for parents intended to teach mothers how to ensure their children grow up to be terrorists. The guide recommends beginning indoctrination “when they are babies,” as toddlers are less susceptible to brainwashing, and to entice them with jihadi bedtime stories and songs.