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Surviving an ISIS Massacre
September 4, 2014 10:48 AM   Subscribe

Ali Hussein Kadhim, the only known survivor out of hundreds of an ISIS massacre outside of Tikrit in Iraq, tells his story. Ali, a Shi'a, was saved only by the kindness of people in the Sunni neighborhood around him. TW (violence): First video in link is an interview with Ali and includes footage of soldiers being shot.
posted by zug (12 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm bothered that the NYT is outing the sheikh who saved him. I hope ISIS doesn't kill that sheikh.
posted by elizilla at 11:09 AM on September 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


That part where he tears up talking about his family -- I just wanna give him a big hug and cry with him.
posted by symbioid at 11:21 AM on September 4, 2014


It bothered me a little that the NYT had him watch the footage of all of his colleagues being killed, but it was still a really powerful story.
posted by zug at 11:37 AM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have been telling people this fact, but this story underscores it... Most of the Sunni actually find ISIS to be a strange collection of extremist, ultra-religious country bumpkins, thugs, and overseas extremists.

Keep in mind that the Sunni were the movers and shakers in the old Iraqi power structure, with a lot of the most Western, progressive tastes... and in come ISIS, with their burkas, beards, and harsh penalties for having a bit of alcohol now and then. They are everything that Saddam hated, frankly.

The Sunni have no great love for the Iraqi government, but they don't want all the aggressive Sharia, and absolutely don't want the kind of heat they're likely to get from airstrikes and military action. Ultimately, they are the ones who will pay most for having ISIS in their midst.

Incidentally, that also makes many of them *excellent* candidates for becoming spotters for US drones, which was a tactic in the tribal region of Pakistan that was often hellishly effective against the Taliban.
posted by markkraft at 12:59 PM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


There's also a contingent of disenfranchised ex Iraqi military/Ba'ath officials who have callously latched on and are acting as middle management, even if maybe they only pay lip service to establishing a new caliphate.

At the rate this seems to be escalating, JSOC is gonna have tons of people there within the year. This will be the biggest black ops orgy yet.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 1:18 PM on September 4, 2014


Where is the set of infographics displayed on the video at 1m24s, when the narrator says the NYT verified his story?
posted by fivebells at 1:55 PM on September 4, 2014


> Incidentally, that also makes many of them *excellent* candidates for becoming spotters for US drones, which was a tactic in the tribal region of Pakistan that was often hellishly effective against the Taliban.

[…] effective against taliban any males above 20, probably, more or less, maybe, mostly.
Fixed that for you.

Not to discount the effect of local dissent on combating ISIS, but the US program of drone strikes in the FATA region in Pakistan is not a an example of something good, moral, or even legal. See livingunderdrones.org
posted by monocultured at 3:33 PM on September 4, 2014


"effective against any males above 20..."

Actually, no. The site you referenced, livingunderdrones.org, widely relies on stats from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism for its casualty analysis, and even they say that the total casualties in Pakistan are between 2,347-3,792 from drone strikes, with between 416-957 of them being civilians. That means between 11% and 40% civilian casualties.

It's hardly "pinpoint", but if you compare the 5.5 lb drone rocket strikes to 200+lb guided bombs, it's far less indiscriminate.

"the US program of drone strikes in the FATA region in Pakistan is not a an example of something good, moral, or even legal."

If you consider that the Government of Pakistan covertly authorized drone strikes, that makes the legality much less of an issue. In the case of Iraq, the government has openly requested our help... including drones.

So, the question is, what is worse... the evil of killing ISIS members, at a cost of, say, 25% civilian casualties, or letting ISIS run amok, given that they are responsible for killing at least 5,576 civilians and driving 1.2 million people from their homes this year alone.

Keep in mind, that as bad as drones are, the use of airstrikes, artillery, or, even worse, direct combat between ground troops, all tend to have considerably higher levels of civilian casualties.
posted by markkraft at 3:36 AM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


So, the question is, what is worse...

Until we get to a point where we stop deliberately targeting first responders in follow-up strikes after a drone attack, there's no "lesser" evil to choose from. There's just two different flavors of inexcusable evil.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:55 AM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


*facepalm*

You know what sort of people target first responders?

I'm off to find that goat Vs drone video.
posted by Mezentian at 9:00 AM on September 5, 2014


So, the question is, what is worse... the evil of killing ISIS members, at a cost of, say, 25% civilian casualties, or letting ISIS run amok, given that they are responsible for killing at least 5,576 civilians and driving 1.2 million people from their homes this year alone.

Unfortunately, the calculus is not so simple as in that 25% civilian casualty figure. No, the downside is not just the 25%. It's something else, much more fundamental - are you achieving even the putative "upside" and your ultimate goals? You drone to kill a terrorist and say the unfortunate downside is a % of civilian casualties. But what if the full accounting for that drone is 1 terrorist killed, % civilian casualties, and 5 new terrorists created?

It's like a certain surgical technique (morcellation surgery) sometimes used to f.ex. remove a cancerous growth from a uterus. The technique involves inserting a spinning blade that rapidly cuts and minces the cancer and the tissue then is removed. Well, they found that the technique can actually spread cancer, because the mist of cells from the cancer procedure travels in the body and settles elsewhere, essentially spreading the cancer catatstrophically. It would have been better to leave the contained cancer than to use the morcellation procedure to remove that one cancer, but spread it fatally into the rest of the body.

That's what the true accounting of a military intervention must look like. Not just the % of civilian casualties for every terrorist killed in a drone strike, but what the ultimate effect is. Otherwise it's like the old joke - the procedure was a huge success, but the patient died. The cancer was removed! Except the patient died from multiple cancers spread elsewhere by the removal procedure.

And we do have a way of acting extremely counterproductively militarily in such guerilla scenarios.

The question remains. Is it better to let the ISIS crisis play itself out with the local actors involved (which includes neighboring countries), or do we morcellate our way into a bigger disaster down the road, even if were were (apparently) short term successful with ISIS - after all, ISIS itself is the downstream effect of our morcellating Iraq and inserting the same instruments into Syria. Perhaps it was better to have Iraq and Syria dictatorships contained as their own slow cancers to be dealt with its own immune system, instead of trying to remove them and letting the cancer spread everywhere. We've seen this movie before. What's going to be different this time?

ISIS cannot survive - long term - without local Sunni support. Chances are, that local Sunnis will eventually - and not that far into the future - tire of the savagery of ISIS, and withdraw their support and take up arms against them. UNLESS... we, the West, start victimizing the Sunnis with blithe assurances that it's "only" 25% of civilian casualties, thus increasing the hatred of the Sunnis against us and solidifying their support for ISIS. Are we morcellating again? Or is this time different (promise and double promise!) from all the other times we've used exactly the same justifications for military intervention in the ME (monsters! for the children! we can't allow!), to abysmal results every time?

The question is not whether ISIS are a vicious evil - they definitely are. One for which we are at least partially responsible. The question rather is: should we intervene militarily, and what will make this intervention a grand success, when it's failed all the times before? Are drones, the technology, somehow a substitute for a strategy (which Obama openly admitted we don't have)? Do we have a reliable analysis showing that a military intervention by the West (and let's face it, that means primarily the U.S.) is the best proscribed action here vs ISIS? You'll pardon me if I'm supremely unimpressed by whatever quality of analysis we have by the decision-makers, judging by past performance. I predict more morcellating.
posted by VikingSword at 1:48 PM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]




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