The Farhatiya massacre: Hashd al Shabi or ISIS?
Eight men from Al Farhatiya district (Salah al Din province) were kidnapped and brutally massacred last Saturday (17-Oct-2020). Their bodies were found with their hands tied behind their back and their wounds point at an execution as the cause of death. Without formal investigation politicians and media were quick to point their fingers at Hashd al Shabi (popular mobilization forces).
The fact that ISIS has a strong presence in Salah al Din had been willfully ignored when interpreting this massacre. The fact that over the years ISIS staged many attacks while dressed as Iraqi Security forces is ignored as well despite the ample evidence that these sort of attacks are common.
Here we have collected a few of the attacks perpetrated by ISIS while they were dressed like Iraqi security forces and Hashd Al Shabi.
“Ramadi was captured following a Trojan-horse like offensive that saw IS militants surreptitiously infiltrate a downtown district dressed as local police officers.” 1
“One group of ISIS fighters reportedly donned Iraqi federal police and security forces uniforms and drove black cars into a central district of Mosul's Old City.”
“Civilians flocked to welcome what appeared to be a pro-government convoy entering the neighborhood and the jihadists began singing and chanting to feign celebration that the area had been supposedly cleared of ISIS forces, according to a report published by Lebanon's The Daily Star.”
“The militants then began executing the locals, killing at least 15 civilians, and arresting scores more. The dead included men, women and children, who ISIS targeted to "to make it clear the area was still under enemy control," according to a statement Tuesday by Iraq's Joint Operations Command that was cited by The Independent.” 2
“In one notorious and widely publicized example in February 2018, Islamic State fighters dressed as PMF troops established a fake vehicle checkpoint at Shariah bridge, near Hawijah, and executed 27 PMF volunteers.” 3
“Over the past week alone, IS has claimed responsibility for six attacks at fake checkpoints, including one that destroyed oil tankers and another targeting Shiite pilgrims. Other attacks have included strikes on oil installations and convoys, with IS claiming to have captured weapons and vehicles.” 4
“A group of Islamic State members recently killed a family of five at a false checkpoint on the Kirkuk – Tikrit main road, security sources said.” 5
“Members of an Islamic State sleeper cell abducted several civilians on Thursday at a fake security checkpoint they had set up on a road connecting two towns in the Kurdistan Region’s southern Garmiyan area.” 6
Blaming the PMU for the Farhatiya massacre is part of the propaganda war that has been waged against them. It is dangerous as it stirs sectarian hatred in a fragile country. In the coming articles IraqNow will further explore why the Hashd al Shabi is often disproportionately suspected when unfortunate murders such as these occur.