An Iraqi Shiite militia group calling itself the “Iraq Special Operation Force” claims it settled the fate of a captured Islamic State jihadi by giving Instagram users an hour to vote for either freedom or death, and imposing a death sentence when the online vote called for it.
“You can vote For (kill him or let him go) You have one houer to vote We will post his fate after one houer Tag your friends and take your right take your reveng from isis right now. Please we dont have the time just one houer so tag your friends,” the militia told its 80,000 followers, as transcribed (with spelling errors intact) by the UK Guardian.
— DivaKnevil (@DivaKnevil) March 29, 2016
A subsequent post indicated the fans voted for death, so the ISIS prisoner was killed by his captors. Albawaba reports the follow-up post included an image of the captive “apparently dead on the ground, while other soldiers holding weapons stood behind him,” along with the message “thanks for vote.”
The Guardian includes some skepticism about the claim from University of Maryland researcher Phillip Smyth, who noted the Instagram account in question, @iraqiswat, has made dubious claims of running sadistic online votes before, often re-purposing older photos of “ghastly deeds done by militias or possibly by Iraqi government forces.”
Smyth also pointed out the authenticity of the militia’s claims was nearly impossible to determine, and it could not even be said for certain that the Instagram account is a genuine outlet for a real militia operation.
The Guardian reports that Instagram deleted the posts as violations of its policies. It is currently not accessible and appears to have been shut down.
Before it was shut down, the @iraqiswat account had been gleefully posting its news clippings, with claims such as “Google going crazy with our page,” and invitations to “tag your friends for more live revenge vote video killing ISIS with no mercy.”
International Business Times reports the Iraq Special Operation Force was dismayed at Instagram deleting their “vote for death” post, but declared, “We promise you next time you can vote for de fat ***s and show some Lov.” They also promised “victory soon, death to ISIS” and declared, “Mosel, here we come” — a reference to the Islamic State’s stronghold in Iraq, the city of Mosul.
If the Instagram vote actually did occur, international legal expert Gideon Boas told the Guardian that the Iran-linked Shiite militia would be guilty of war crimes, for executing a prisoner without due process.