At one time ISIS made videos extolling its grotesque executions. ISIS commanders used these YouTube horrors as recruiting advertisements. In their sick minds, the executions demonstrated that ISIS had God's divine sanction.
YouTube still runs clips from these videos. Each one documents premeditated crime, like the one where masked ISIS executioners march Christian men to the Mediterranean Sea and behead them, en masse. I think the most terrifying video is the one where ISIS burns captured Sunni Muslim Jordanian Air Force officer Muath Al-Kasasbeh alive. It is evidence of a vicious crime — and perhaps that is the ultimate value of their hideous imagery.
As far as I can tell, there is no internet imagery of ISIS thugs raping Yazidi women. ISIS thugs committed that crime in 2014, after they invaded northern Iraq and seized Mosul. However, several websites present interviews with Yazidi survivors — the survivors who escaped enslavement. The women describe the brutal attacks they suffered. Their testaments are personal statements, though several of the victims bear physical scars. Every single woman bears psychological scars.
The long-awaited offensive to take Mosul once again is now producing hideous physical evidence of other ISIS crimes.
Hammam al-Alil, 15 kilometers south of Mosul, was a tourist town with a spa fed by hot springs. ISIS turned it into a graveyard. After Iraqi Army soldiers liberated Hammam al-Alil have they found 100 beheaded corpses.
UN investigators and forensic pathologists have reached the gravesite but have yet to determine if the beheaded are "fresh bodies" or prior murders. Iraqi police say they are receiving numerous missing persons reports. The missing people disappeared within the last three weeks.
It seems that retreating ISIS fighters committed mass murder as they fled. Mass murder, however, isn't the only crime. Residents say ISIS fighters forced over 1,000 people to board trucks. The trucks then drove to the town of Tal Afar.
This tracks with past ISIS actions. ISIS routinely employs so-called "human shields." Human shield? The term is a feckless euphemism for taking hostages. ISIS, like now deceased Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, uses civilian hostages as flesh and blood protection against air strikes and artillery attacks.
Reports of the discovery of mass murder in Hammam al-Alil broke near-simultaneously on internet websites. Reporters and stringers for western news services and Iraqi media accompanying the advancing Iraqi Army unit that discovered the mass gravesite. Via smart phone they rapidly reported what they saw and what the soldiers suspected.
So ponder that for a moment. Iraq is still a political mess. It is threatened by Iranian intrigue and domestic ethnic and religious conflict. However, an Iraq where reporters and stringers for independent news services accompany Iraqi troops is a far different political mess than it was when Saddam Hussein ruled the country. Saddam killed with ISIS-like brutality and terror.
That is a fair statement. In fact, several senior ISIS commanders were once Saddam loyalists.
The battle for Mosul will be long and bloody. The aftermath will likely produce confrontations among Iraqi Kurds, Iraqi Shia Arabs and Iraqi Sunni Arabs. Iran and Turkey will attempt to influence the struggle. But the brute Saddam is gone and the brutes of ISIS will have either fled — or they, like Saddam, will be dead. It may not seem like progress, but progress it is.