Damien McElroy, Telegraph (London), July 30, 2014
Al-Qaeda linked terrorists that control swathes of Iraq and Syria have circulated a video compilation of hundreds of graphic executions to mark the Muslim religious festival of Eid.
Accompanied by an explicit threat to Iraqi soldiers , the group formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (Isis), showed dozens of young men men cowering in the shadow of gunmen before being brutally slaughtered.
A group of soldiers are led to a desert pit that will soon become a mass grave.
Others are seen standing on a small river jetty before shuffling forward where they are shot in the head and fall into the water. The executions take place in Saddam Hussein’s hometown Tikrit.
Another sequence shows Isis gunmen in a fast car firing on traffic, riddling other vehicles with bullets in an apparently random killing spree.
The 30-minute clip shows tracksuit bottoms being removed from men to reveal combat trousers underneath in an apparent justification that they are soldiers being slain.
Many pleas for mercy are heard on the audio as the victims are killed.
The group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has declared an Islamic caliphate in the wake of the takeover of Mosul, Iraq’s second city.
The first reports of a backlash against the brutality of the group has however emerged with claims that Saddam loyalists executed 12 members of Isis in retaliation for the destruction of Mosul’s shrine to the prophet Jonah.
However the outfit issued a defence its destruction of religious sites in the Iraqi city of Mosul on the grounds that the use of mosques built on graves amounted to idolatry.
“The demolition of structures erected above graves is a matter of great religious clarity,” the jihadist group said.
“Our pious predecessors have done so . . . There is no debate on the legitimacy of demolishing or removing those graves and shrines,” the Islamic State (IS) said.
It cited the demolition by Mohammed bin Abdel Wahhab–founder of the puritanical Wahhabist brand of Islam followed by jihadists–of a dome erected above the tomb of Zaid ibn al-Khattab.
Isis, which announced the restoration of the caliphate last month by declaring its sovereignty over land it has seized in Syria and Iraq, has levelled several of Mosul’s most prominent religious landmarks.
They include the Nabi Yunus shrine (Jonah’s tomb) and a shrine to Prophet Seth–considered in Islam, Judaism and Christianity to be Adam and Eve’s third son.
Mosul’s new jihadist rulers also threatened to blow up the so-called “hunchback” (Hadba), a leaning minaret built in the 12th century and one of Iraq’s most recognisable landmarks.