Islamic State brutally executes 4 men in response to slaying by ‘Angel of Death’

15-08-31 Islamic State's victims burned alive

The Islamic State’s so-called Anbar province has released the “caliphate’s” latest in a long line of gory execution productions. The new snuff video shows four men dressed in orange jumpsuits being burned alive as they hang hogtied and upside down from a scaffold. The four men reportedly belonged to the Popular Mobilization Forces, which fight alongside the Iraqi government and are backed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The Long War Journal is not reproducing the video of the executions, but a picture of the men shortly before their deaths can be seen above.

The killings are part of a vicious cycle of sectarian violence that has engulfed Iraq for years. And the Islamic State’s men justify the murders by saying it is revenge for the brutal executions committed by Shiite forces. In reality, the Islamic State needs no pretext for its over-the-top violence, as it regularly executes its enemies in a highly-stylized fashion.

However, just a few days ago, photos and a short video of another execution were passed around by the “caliphate’s” supporters. The images show a Shiite leader known as Abu Azrael, or the father of the “Angel of Death,” and his subordinates next to a Sunni who was killed in the same fashion as the Islamic State’s victims. After the man was burned to death, Abu Azrael cuts into his leg with a sword, saying that Baghdadi’s men will suffer the same fate and become “like shawarma.” Abu Azrael can be heard mocking the Islamic State’s “elite forces.”

15-08-31 Abu Azrael 1

Abu Azrael’s execution of the man took place in Baiji, which is home to a major oil refinery and the site of intense fighting between the Islamic State’s jihadists and Shiite militias. Iraqi government forces are integrated with the militias. A photo showing Abu Azrael with the corpse can be seen on the right. As with the Islamic State’s execution footage, The Long War Journal is not reproducing the video in full.

According to Al Jazeera, Abu Azrael has publicly owned the grisly killing and others as well. He has only objected to reports that his victim was an Iraqi. “Would I burn a Sunni man [from Iraq]?” he reportedly said in response. “These were from the Caucasus. One of them was Asian.”

Abu Azrael, who is well-known for his bravado and hulking physique, has earned the nickname “Rambo.” He is a commander in the Imam Ali Brigades, which are part of the Iraqi government-sponsored Popular Mobilization Forces. According to press reports, the militia is “made up of combatants trained in Iran or Lebanon” and has established a reputation as a vicious counterweight to the Islamic State.

In May, representatives of Grand Ayatollah Sistani awarded Abu Azrael the “Martyrdom Medal of Honor.”

As the US and its allies have struggled to come up with an effective policy for combating the Islamic State, they have increasingly found themselves in a de facto alliance with Iranian-backed militias, some of which are led by US-designated terrorists.

The Popular Mobilization Committee is directed by Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, a former commander in the Badr Organization who was listed by the US government as a specially designated global terrorist in July 2009. The US government described Muhandis, whose real name is Jamal Jaafar Mohammed, as “an advisor to Qassem Soleimani,” the commander of the Qods Force, which is the external operations wing of the IRGC. US military and intelligence officials accuse Soleimani of overseeing the deaths of numerous American soldiers and other personnel in Iraq.

In June, Muhandis was pictured with Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al Abadi and then photographed with Abadi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a high-level meeting. The photos demonstrate the high degree of coordination between Muhandis’ Popular Mobilization Committee and its Iraqi and Iranian government backers.

Despite the well-documented and extensive presence of extremists, including Abu Azrael, among the Popular Mobilization Forces, the Obama administration has argued that observers should not be alarmed by their role in the fighting.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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7 Comments

  • johann says:

    The friend of my friend is my friend. The friend of my enemy is my enemy?
    A discombobulated and evil trait of the Homo Sapien Sapien species.
    There is no honor, or loyalty amongst thieves, thugs, criminals, banditos, terrorists,
    greedy financial crooks, drug addicts, substance abusers, starving animals,
    desperate people, desperate ‘friends’, even desperate family members.
    Honor and loyalty can be as temporary as, ‘what have you done for me lately, and what
    can you do for me now or in the near future!!!!’
    We can find this truism amongst politicians, and sanctimonious do-gooders everywhere.
    Rare are the Saints.., the Mother Theresas, etc. Rare are the truly TRUST Worthy!!

  • Birbal Dhar says:

    I saw the video, but all of it is in Arabic, so no idea what the footage was all about, until the point where the men are hogtied and burnt from a fire lit by an ISIS terrorist. One thing I notice about this video and others including the one where they killed a group of men by drowning them in a cage , is they don’t have English subtitles, which is surprising, as this would have attracted more people outside the Arab world to their demonic cause. I suspect ISIS wants to prioritise their videos for Arabic language speakers and the local population in the territories they control. After all they have media centres in Syria and Iraq, which broadcast these vile videos for the majority unfortunate population living in their ghastly territory.

  • mike merlo says:

    at the very least this should make for an extremely macabre competition between beyond maniacally homicidal Islamist’s. I look forward to a stepped up murder spree targeting innocent people by both sides. Blood thirsty rabid animals all of them

  • Mike Sims says:

    These kind of brutal and horrific killings by ISIS are the reason why ISIS must be stopped now before they are allowed to grow and spread their violence and murderous rampage into Europe, Canada and the United States.

    ISIS has violated not only the Law of Land Warfare, the Geneva Conventions and many other international laws – but its actions as a terrorist group in which it has destroyed many ancient artifacts, raped many women and children, sexually assaulted women – children – men, and killed many innocent men, women and children – sometimes in the most horrifying manner… this is the reason in which the world forces (even those who consider each other strategic enemies) must join together in order to destroy and eliminate the evil forces of ISIS.

    Left unchecked, ISIS will without a doubt spread like an infection into the United States, Russia, Europe and Canada. Like all diseases, if not treated, it will eventually consume the body – and in this case, ISIS has consumed Syria and a majority of northern and western and central Iraq. Like World War II, Hitler and the Nazi forces were for a short time – a regional problem whose violence later spread to threaten all of Europe, Russia, north Africa, Great Britain, and the United States.

    The fight against ISIS must not be fought in a conventional manner or by Rules of Engagement that serve only to tie the hands of our forces and limit our success, while enabling ISIS the freedom to maneuver throughout the battlefield. The fight against ISIS must bring to bear the swiftest and most decisive punishing action by the United States that the world has ever witnessed – eliminating ISIS without mercy in a victory that not only liberates the region of the most gruesome terrorists in our history, but also signaling to others who idolize the notion of becoming a terrorist organization ultimately means that their future is limited as they will be hunted and eliminated by the fiercest men on the planet belonging to the U.S. Armed Forces.

    • rusty says:

      you got that in one…like you say allied countries may not like it but only drastic action is going to stop them,i read a story a few months back that some of the ISIS top lot had been buying land in serbia,if that didnt start ringing alarm bells ringing then i dont know what will,and with the escalating migrant crisis in europe i can see this getting totally out of control,i feel so sorry for the people in the middle but it seems to me like once they started taking the first lot in at malta,sicily,greece there are now so many that see it as a pathway to a better life..no leader within the european union has the balls to make such a decision on drastic action that would cause divisions,in the second world war churchill shocked a lot of people in this country by the destruction of dresden but he knew hitler had to be stopped at all costs and while we have the chance before it spreads too far it really needs to be nipped in the bud.

    • smorgasbroed says:

      All in all well written and II tend to agree but with one note aside: This is not a problem to be solved by the US only and the US are not the police of the world. They did not liberate Europe from the Nazi regime alone and two wars in Iraq show control in the middle East can’t be brought by them alone. Basically the US failed dramatically to stabilize the region and one could argue if they did that on purpose because instability on the doorsteps of Europe might help a lot.

      Fight ISIS. But all together. Gtfo with that tunnel vision which brought us there where we are now.

  • James says:

    It isn’t “the British are coming;” no, it’s the holocaust is coming, America. We have two choices, either we do something about it or we become part of it. I say declare war, pass a war tax, initiate a draft (even if many of the potential draftees are currently here illegally) or whatever it takes.

    When will our people wake up to face this harsh reality for what it really is. This is a battle for our right to exist. Where is our Winston Churchill? I say we let these thugs know that we’re not accepting any more prisoners. These kind of thugs that commit these kinds of war crimes and crimes against humanity need to be summarily executed (i.e., hung) at the point of capture.

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