Iraqi Soldier Survives Mass Execution by ISIL
Ali Hussein Kadhim, an Iraqi army recruit, was one of 1,700 captured by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, otherwise commonly known as ISIS) militants in early June, along with hundreds of others stationed in Camp Speicher, a former American military base at Tikrit, about 100 miles north of Baghdad. The only difference between him and the other captives: he survived.
The 23-year old Mr. Kadhim turned to enlisting in the Iraqi Army to try to provide for his wife and two children after living in poverty. He explained, “we don’t have anything. No salary, no work, no land. So where could I go?” (The New York Times, “Escaping Death in Northern Iraq,” 09.03.2014) Less than two weeks later, Mr. Kadhim would be awaiting execution by ISIL soldiers.
The group’s increasingly strong presence in northern Iraq and intensifying efforts to amass territory in the area have caused many soldiers to flee. Tikrit’s military personnel were no exception. According to The Daily News, “About 3,000 soldiers put on civilian clothes and marched off the base” (“‘I had a great will to live’: Lone survivor of ISIS massacre that killed as many as 560 played dead to escape terrorists,” 09.04.2014). However, they were soon caught by ISIL soldiers, who tricked them into their cars under pretenses of being returned to their families. Instead, they were taken to a palace complex in Tikrit that once housed Saddam Hussein. According to Mr. Kadhim, upon arrival, the groups were quickly separated into Sunnis and Shiites. Many of the Sunnis were given the chance to repent for their service to the Iraqi military, whereas the Shiite soldiers, including Mr. Kadhim, were not given the same opportunity.
ISIL militants filmed as their Shiite captives were marched to their executions, which Mr. Kadhim would later see during his interview with The New York Times, amongst other videos posted online by the terrorist organization. Mr. Kadhim was fourth in line to be executed, and, with cameras still rolling, the men in his group were shot in the head. Yet, when the executioner reached Mr. Kadhim, the bullet missed, passing by his head into the freshly-dug trench in front of him. Mr. Kadhim explained, “I saw my daughter in my mind, saying ‘Father, father…’ I just pretended to be shot” (“Escaping Death in Northern Iraq”).
Mr. Kadhim fell forward, realizing his chance at survival. Surrounded by his dead comrades, he waited until nightfall, at which time he made his way toward the nearby Tigris River. While crossing the river, he encountered another ISIL captive, a driver at Camp Speicher, who had been shot and thrown into the river. The two survived three days together, with Mr. Kadhim eating grass and insects while his fellow survivor was so wounded that he could not eat. After three days, Mr. Kadhim reached the nearby town of Al Alam, where a Sunni sheik sheltered him long enough to travel back to Erbil, for safety.
According to The Economic Times, Mr. Kadhim has since been reunited with his family and is trying to survive without employment in Iraq, as the Iraqi military intelligence has endeavored to protect the secrecy and security of his location.
Nude Celebrity Photos Prompt Outrage
On August 31, in an event known by some as “the Fappening,” the Internet erupted with controversy at the most extensive leaking of celebrity nude photos, most notably of stars Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, among others. While much of the information regarding the details of the leak remain obscure, news outlets and other entertainers have weighed in on the scandal and its impact on society.
According to Vanity Fair, although the identity of the leaker or leakers remains unknown, those responsible allegedly hacked the stars’ cloud accounts, obtaining the pictures from file storage, then posted the stolen photos to the anonymous imageboard websites 4chan and AnonIB. Soon thereafter, the images were posted to Reddit, from which they were widely downloaded.
Within a few days, as web-pages devoted to posting these photos amassed large numbers of followers, many celebrities not personally featured in the leaks spoke out about the scandal. Seth Rogen tweeted, “Posting pics hacked from someone’s cellphone is really no different than selling stolen merchandise.” Similarly, Emma Watson tweeted, “Even worse than seeing women’s privacy violated on social media is reading the accompanying comments that show such a lack of empathy.”
Among the chief complaints regarding the posting of these photographs was the inherent violation of individuals’ privacy. The leak has also sparked a strong backlash from those who believe that the fact only female celebrities were featured proves to be an example of exploitation of women on the Internet. Another source of serious concern was the fact that some of the photographs featured underage individuals. One such was of Olympic gold-medalist McKayla Maroney, who turned 18 in December; her attorney has filed legal action to prevent the distribution of any photos of her based on the grounds that it is child pornography.
While a significant amount of the media’s response has discussed the damage done to the celebrities featured in the stolen photographs, another portion of the debate has been critical of the hacking victims. Some advocates who promote modesty have also entered the fray, criticizing the women for taking explicit images of themselves. Another argument has focused on the fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened a case into discovering the identity of the hacker; some believe that this shows obvious exceptional treatment for the rich and famous, while also misusing tax dollars.
–Rhys Johnson, Guest Reporter