Echoing a tactic of another jihadist terror group–Nigeria’s Boko Haram–the Islamic State (IS) is now reportedly conducting mass abductions, kidnapping and taking away 50 men from a Sunni village north of Baghdad this week.
The Associated Press reports that Islamic State jihadists entered the village, in the state of Kirkuk, and kidnapped about fifty men. The men were driven away in trucks, and residents tell the AP they have no indication where the men could have been taken. The Middle Eastern news outlet Al Akhbar reports the number to have been closer to 40 and notes this is not the first mass abduction the group has conducted.
The kidnapping is unusual, however, because the village is majority Sunni, as is the Islamic State. Some Sunni groups in Iraq that have encountered IS have embraced the group, while others have rejected it, as many fear the return of often brutal Shi’ite militias. The AP adds that the Iraqi army had driven the Islamic State out of Tal Ali the day before, and that this particular village resisted IS rule. Unlike some Sunni-controlled areas that have embraced the Islamic State, residents of Tal Ali were witnessed burning the Islamic State flag upon the departure of the jihadist group from their town. It is perhaps this very irreverence, Radio Free Europe notes, that the jihadists hoped to suppress by taking away dozens of the village’s men, who will likely face an ultimatum to join the jihadist quest or be killed.
The abduction follows the news that the Islamic State killed Sunni tribal chief Maiser al-Waqaa in a village south of Mosul. Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, fell to Islamic State forces months ago, as they emptied the town of ethnic and religious minorities. These attacks appear to indicate that the Islamic State, having greatly diminished the population of Shi’ites, Kurds, Christians, and Yazidis in the areas it controls, is targeting Sunnis who do not pledge allegiance to the group.
In addition to these attacks on Sunnis, the Islamic State may be involved in a series of attacks on Shi’ites elsewhere in the country. On Friday, a bomb exploding in a Shi’ite commercial neighborhood in Baghdad killed seven people and wounded fifteen, while a separate bomb targeting Shi’ite militias killed four fighters south of Baghdad. Though the Islamic State has not taken direct responsibility for these actions, it is believed that either Sunni jihadists or their allies conducted the attacks.