The Jubouri tribe in Najaf Province welcomed one of the men who managed to escape ISIS’ grip after he was kidnapped along with 15 others by ISIS last week in the sub-district of Nukhayb in Anbar Province.
Last week ISIS kidnapped 15 citizens from the city of Najaf who were out truffle hunting in the sub-district of Nukhayb in the Anbar Desert. While six of the kidnapped men were executed right away by the militant group, one man, Hamza Kadhim al-Jubouri, was able to successfully escape ISIS’ grip, walking for six days to reach his family.
Upon his return, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Iraqi media were finally able to hear the details of the kidnapping of the 15 unarmed men.
“Four people with cars kidnapped us. Then they drove us to a place for 6 or 7 hours. After sundown, they took us [somewhere] on a Nissan pick-up truck,” said Hamza al-Jubouri. “Half an hour later, my brothers and I attacked them, and I took this weapon from them. Then I went to the valley and walked for six days.”
During the days that the men went missing, tensions between citizens in Anbar and Najaf Provinces were very high due to the sectarian rhetoric that was being disseminated by some politicians and media outlets. However, soon after this divisive rhetoric began to spread, the tribes and officials of Anbar publicly condemned these actions, saying that these actions do not represent their province.
“These incidents that took place in Anbar Province are not accidents that only targeted the sons of Najaf or the sons of Karbala, they also targeted the sons of Anbar in Haditha and al-Qaim,” said Ali Farhan al-Dulaimi, the Governor of Anbar, during the reception of Hamza al-Jubouri in Najaf.
Officials in Najaf Province also shared this sentiment saying that the citizens of Iraq will remain united despite ISIS’ attempts to spread discord and sectarianism amongst the public.
While ISIS was defeated in Iraq in December 2017, the militant group’s sleeper cells continue to operate mainly in the desert of Anbar. This has prompted many citizens to call upon the Iraqi Government to launch operations against ISIS cells in the province.
“They are in the desert and valleys, and no one attacks them,” said Shiekh Qais al-Assafi, the representative of the Dulaim Tribe in Anbar. “The army is unable to pursue them in the desert or on the border.”
Soon after this case became public, the ISF began pursuing and launching attacks on ISIS positions throughout Anbar’s desert region. The operations, which are continuing, were successful in killing at least eight ISIS militants so far.
While these operations have continued to take place since the military defeat of ISIS in Iraq, Iraqis must continue to show unity and coexistence amongst each other by abandoning the sectarian and hateful rhetoric that is being peddled by ISIS and some politicians who benefit from division.