A vigilante group in Iraq calling itself the Hammam al-Alil Revolution is hunting down and killing suspect Islamic State members. Eleven of their victims have been found on the side of a road 20 miles from Mosul, blindfolded and shot execution-style.
The group went beyond killing ISIS fighters by promising to track down the families of Islamic State operatives and exhorting followers to burn their homes.
“Soon we will start our operation. We are now locating Daesh families. We will make them regret joining. Good luck everyone,” the group said in a May 28 post on its Facebook page, quoted by the UK Daily Mail. “Daesh” is another name for ISIS.
Hammam al-Alil is a town in the Mosul area where the Islamic State perpetrated a notorious massacre. A mass grave with over 100 bodies was discovered in the town by Iraqi troops when they liberated it from ISIS in November 2016. According to the Daily Mail, the vigilante group opened its Facebook page about six months after Hammam al-Alil was liberated.
The vigilantes’ Facebook page includes an account of attacking an ISIS fighter named Mohammad Atrash and his family with guns and grenades, accompanied by photos of grenades from the group’s inventory. Some of the names on their target lists are Islamic State militants who have been imprisoned or killed; the group wants its followers to attack their families. The Daily Mail quotes several family members of ISIS militants who say they have indeed been attacked by the vigilantes.
“It’s a reciprocity. They hurt my family. Now we will hurt theirs,” one Hammam al-Alil member explained.
The UK Telegraph spoke to some people in the Hammam al-Alil region who questioned whether all of the people attacked and killed by the vigilante group were truly members of ISIS.
“I have told the police what is happening to us, but they have done nothing to help. They don’t care what these gangs do to us because they think we deserve it,” said 65-year-old Leila Ali Jamil Salah, who conceded her husband and son were killed fighting for the Islamic State in Mosul.
The Telegraph article notes that many local officers of the National Security Service “have stories of relatives killed by the militants”; one of them bluntly stated he knows who the vigilantes are but will not intervene.
The horrors visited by the Islamic State upon captive civilian populations are mind-shattering, making the hunger for “reciprocity” unsurprising. The current news from Mosul has Islamic State fighters deliberately targeting civilians as they flee the city, escaping after years of brutal captivity.
“Where have you been for the last three years?” one woman shouted at Iraqi troops in an account published by CNN on Tuesday. “Twenty days ago we tried to escape. They caught him, shot him four times in the head, my brother.”