ICC’s Nineveh Plains Transitional Justice Report: October
The death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on October 26 was followed five days later with an announcement by ISIS via Telegram that Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurashi will inherit leadership of the terrorist organization. Religious minorities warn that ISIS will continue its extremist violence.
“It is important to remember that even though Baghdadi is personally dead, it will be a tremendous mistake to consider ISIS, the ideology, or the tens of thousands of ISIS members as no longer a threat. It is still a threat, and complacency is not a good option,” said the Free Yazidi Foundation.
“The killing of al-Baghdadi was expected, but ISIS attacks in Iraq, like the killing of the head of the ID in Diyala, are a bad indication about ISIS still being in Iraq,” Fadi, another Iraqi Christian, explained to International Christian Concern (ICC).
Attempts to disrupt the organization of ISIS continue throughout Iraq. The Interior Ministry announced the arrests of 22 suspected ISIS members in the Nineveh Plains. Although the rest of the country is engulfed in protests, it is worth noting that this number is on par with reports from previous months.
Upheaval in the Nineveh Plains came from a combination of both national protests and the implications of the Syrian crisis. Protests have not heavily featured in the Nineveh Plains, although the province remains affected by the unrest defining the remainder of Iraq. Protesters are generally demanding public accountability, job creation, and infrastructure development. These demands resonate deeply with those living in the Nineveh Plains, as the occupation of ISIS further exacerbated these deeply engrained problems.
There have been sporadic bursts of communal support for protesters, such as Christians in al-Qosh gathering to show their unity with the protestors. However, these kinds of gatherings pale in comparison to what the rest of the nation is experiencing.
Some locals report that priests in the Nineveh Plains are discouraging these activities. Some have expressed relief that local Shia militias have found their immediate priorities redirected. For example, one Qeraqosh resident explained to ICC, “We are not paying any attention for the demonstrations. Shabak Shia will be busy fighting in Baghdad.”
Others have expressed concern that protesting in the Nineveh Plains would be misinterpreted as intentionally creating security lapses for the benefit of an ISIS resurgence.
“Mosul is a part of Iraq, the most underserved city… The people of Mosul are afraid to take to the streets and demonstrate because immediately they will be accused of being ISIS, so they prefer to stick to their homes,” said one current resident to a local news outlet.
“We are Christians of the Nineveh Plains,” said one local campaign to Ezidi24. “We stand in solidarity with our fellow demonstrators, and we apologize for not demonstrating because our cities are not allowed to demonstrate.”