Albeit belated, and ever grudgingly, the non-Muslim world has been compelled to acknowledge ISIL’s ghastly, murderous jihad rampages against both the Christian and Yazidi religious minorities of northern Iraq.
Even now, however, no U.S. television network has been willing to air the explicit testimonies of both Yazidi and Christian refugees from these jihad depredations about the following salient issue: how local Sunni Muslims, their erstwhile “neighbors,” not only aided and abetted ISIL, but were more responsible for killings, other atrocities, and expulsions than the “foreign” invading jihadists. For example, Sabah Hajji Hassan, a 68-year-old Yazidi, lamented,
The (non-Iraqi) jihadists were Afghans, Bosnians, Arabs and even Americans and British fighters. But the worst killings came from the people living among us, our (Sunni) Muslim neighbors. The Metwet, Khawata and Kejala tribes—they were all our neighbors. But they joined the IS [Islamic State; ISIL], took heavy weapons from them, and informed on who was Yazidi and who was not. Our neighbors made the IS takeover possible.
[Unnamed Christian refugee]: We left Mosul because ISIL came to the city. The [Sunni] people of Mosul embraced ISIS and drove the Christians out of the city. When ISIS entered Mosul, the people hailed them and drove out the Christians. Why did they expel just the Christians from Mosul? There are many sects in Mosul. Why just the Christians? This is nothing new. Even before, the Christians could not go anywhere. The Christians have faced threats of murder, kidnapping, jizya [deliberately humiliating “poll-tax,” per Koran 9:29, imposed upon non-Muslim Jews/Christians/Zoroastrians, vanquished by jihad, along with a slew of other “sacralized” debasing regulations] This is nothing new. […] I was told to leave Mosul. They said that this was a Muslim country, not a Christian one. I am being very honest. They said that this land belongs to Islam and that Christians should not live there.
[Interviewer]: Who told you that?
[Christian refugee]: The people who embraced ISIS, the people who lived there with us…
[Interviewer]: Your neighbors?
[Christian refugee]: Yes, my neighbors. Our neighbors and other people threatened us.
There is another more significant, yet equally verboten truth about ISIL’s jihad. The carnage presently wrought by these avatars of a revitalized Caliphate, simply mirrors, in all its gory, and seemingly depraved detail, the actions of their Ottoman Caliphate “prototype” forbears—also abetted by local Muslims—vis-à-vis the region’s indigenous, pre-Islamic Yazidis, and Christians.
Riveting upon the Assyrian, Chaldean, and Syrian Orthodox Christian populations of northern Iraq (then Mesopotamia), and eastern Anatolia, historian David Gaunt’s pioneering 2006 study described their horrific plight under the Ottomans in 1915. Gaunt noted that “an intense extermination of the Christians was completed in a short period between June and September 1915”—killings on a grisly scale of magnitude far beyond ISIL’s exploits. Most of the 250,000 eventually slaughtered during the years between 1914 and 1919 were killed in this compressed 4-month time frame.
After describing the “concrete details” of what he characterized as the “Ottoman ethnic and religious wars and the full scale of religiously-inspired massacres,” Gaunt concluded with this summary assessment which conveyed the sheer horror and depravity of these jihad ravages:
The degree of extermination and the brutality of the massacres indicate extreme pent-up hatred on the popular level. Christians, the so-called gawur [also giaour or ghiaour] infidels, were killed in almost all sorts of situations. They were collected at the local town hall, walking in the streets, fleeing on the roads, at harvest, in the villages, in the caves and tunnels, in the caravanserais [an inn with a central courtyard], in the prisons, under torture, on the river rafts, on road repair gangs, on the way to be put on trial. There was no specific and technological way of carrying out the murders like the Nazis’ extermination camps. A common feature was those killed were unarmed, tied up, or otherwise defenseless. All possible methods of killing were used: shooting, stabbing, stoning, crushing, throat cutting, throwing off of roofs, drowning, decapitation. Witnesses talk of seeing collections of ears and noses and of brigands boasting of their collections of female body parts. The perpetrators not only killed but humiliated the victims…In several instances, decapitated heads of well-known Christians, such as Hanne Safar of Midyat and Ibrahim the Syriac priest of Sa’irt were used as footballs…In Derike, the Syriac Catholic priest Ibrahim Qrom had his beard torn off and was then forced to crawl on all fours with a tormentor on his back, while others kicked him, stabbed him, and finally cut him to pieces.
Virtually every deportation caravan and village massacre was accompanied by serial mass rape of the women. Young girls were abducted as sex slaves and children as household servants. Even when they were not killed outright, the women were often stripped of their clothes. The homes of Christians were broken into, plundered, furniture smashed, windows, and doors removed, set on fire. Sometimes a survivor had little to return home to.
The number of perpetrators of the local massacres was staggering. Apparently the local officials….or the local politicians…had no difficulty in motivating the populace for extermination. The officials established death squads from middle-aged Muslim men. National Assembly deputies…agitated among the Kurdish tribes and even managed to get notorious outlaws…to cooperate in return for loot, adventure, and a promise of amnesty. On a few occasions, Muslim women were present, for instance…at the public humiliation of Christian dignitaries, but mostly the perpetrators were males. There were literally thousands of perpetrators, most of them locals.
How tragic that a century later, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The question remains: how much longer will U.S. policymaking elites across the political spectrum persist in their denial about how such jihad carnage is a recurring, grass roots, traditionalist Islamic phenomenon?