Network of Iraqi Reporters for Investigative Journalism

Network of Iraqi Reporters for Investigative Journalism

ISIS’s Episode… Documentation of Sanguinary Acts, Analysis of Structural Bases and Warning of Risks


Saman Noah  

   In March 2019, journalist and author ‘Gamal Beira’ published a book entitled ‘Daesh Period’ in Kurdish language. He exposes the birth of ‘Daesh Organization’, and traces its stages: its birth, its skyrocketing rise, its great decline, the beginning of its end and finally its political, social and security repercussions.

  The book monitors and documents in its 390 medium-sized pages the entire details behind the organization’s birth and its emergence as an unrivaled power in several Iraqi and Syrian governorates subsequent to committing a series of bloody liquidations and recruitment operations extending to tragic years. They relied mainly on extremist sectarian rhetoric based on regarding all others as infidels, and went on perpetrating a series of bloody inhuman crimes against the various Iraqi and Syrian societal sects.  

 The book submits intensive outlines of the annihilation crimes perpetrated by Daesh Organization, and its economic and security policies, its organizational structures and the nature of its armaments. It also tackles its methodological vision and the tactics used in spreading fear and terror among the people, relying chiefly on the highest degrees of cruelty and intimidation even among its members. They took better advantage of the political and sectarian conflicts and points of weaknesses and the defective structures of the countries in the region in order to launch their attacks and interpenetrate into their communities and finally impose their suppressive supremacy over large areas of territories.

  The author presents an intensive biography of this terrorist organization since its takeoff from the womb of ‘Al-Qaeda’ Organization, until the declaration of its Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ‘ISIL’ and finally its collapse at the hands of the Iraqi forces together with Peshmerga and the Popular Mobilization Forces (‘Al-Hashed Al-Shabby) in collaboration with the international coalition marking the end of its Caliphate in Syria at the hands of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

  The book contains dozens of investigative and press reports, reportages and analytical articles collected and translated by the author from both Arabic and English in the course of four long years of daily work in the press as a translator, author and journalist. To this end, he was used to pay field visits to battlefronts and report the stories of battles, and see by his very own eyes the extermination and execution crimes perpetrated by the organization. As an eyewitness, he experienced the different aspects of this cruel war and mixed with its victims and heroes.

 NIRIJ’s Investigations 

The investigative reports accomplished by ‘NIRIJ’, Network of Iraq’s Investigative Journalism,  about ISIS, since its birth and the start of its attacks on Talafr and Sinjar show how ISIS exploited the political and social reality in Mosul, Al-Anbar and Saladin and took better advantage of the tribal structure of these regions, to enhance their repressive power and build up the structure of their rule and suppressive apparatuses which had been practicing intimidation, torture and murder acts on their suspected victims for five long years.

‘NIRIJ Network’ had accomplished more than 20 investigative reports from 2013 to 2019, through a selective team of prominent Iraqi journalists and authors. Such reports documented the details of the growth of this terrorist organization and its extension to both Iraq and Syria, and the repercussions of their domination over large areas of territories and the threat it poses on the regional and international security, not to mention the social and economic problems that will be caused by them.

The network which employs about 15 Iraqi journalists, carried out a report in 2013 revealing that most of the regions in the Ninewa Governorate were governed by terrorist groups (Al-Qaeda and Daesh) operating underground and the state’s apparatuses and security and administrative establishments had been completely penetrated. All companies, traders and contractors were paying taxes, royalties and bribes for militants who were forming a complete administrative system. Meanwhile, the report warned that the organization might impose their entire supremacy on the city and it was just a matter of some particular calculations made by such militant groups to achieve their target.

Among other things, the book includes a number of investigations and reports achieved by some prominent international journalists, about the organization; their battles and propaganda, their organizational structure and their leaders’ affiliations and ideologies, the methods utilized in the recruitment of their fighters and the tactics they manipulated to win the loyalty of different clans and men of religion through applying ‘carrot and stick’ policies.

 Documentation of Crimes and Annihilations

The book covers the crimes committed by the organization against the different Iraqi societal components, including the extermination of Yazidis and their burial in mass graveyards amounting to around 75 graves. They also resorted to taking Yazidi females as slaves and recruiting their children in battles. This, in addition to the genocide crimes committed in ‘Spiker Camp’ and the destruction of Talafar and the change of its demography, not to mention the policies practiced to instill terror everywhere they go to, impose poll taxes, commit murders, and punishments on whoever dares to challenge or refuse to comply to their commands in the Sunni regions dominated by them within weeks after their underground operations.

In the course of a comment made by Author ‘Gamal Beira’ to ‘Sabah Kurdistan’ about the cause behind writing his book, he says, “In spite of the fact that the whole world in general and the Iraqis, in particular, including the Kurds, are quite aware of the crimes perpetrated by the organization, yet the human memory quickly forgets, and all details get mixed up after years and judgments get interpenetrated. Experiences confirm that in the course of the vortex of daily life and after years of struggling for survival, man forgets most of the details and realities experienced in the course of life; even the horrific historical events such as the emergence of ‘Daesh’ and the inhuman crimes perpetrated by them can escape man’s memory.”

Beira paid several field visits from 2015 to 2017 to the organization’s battlefields and other regions, in the company of other many local and international journalists, and documented tens of shocking stories and details. He says,” Not many Kurdish authors and journalists wrote profound reports or analytical articles or investigations about the organization.  Most of the materials written during that period were not more than opinion articles or stories heard or condemnations posts on the pages of social media or statements and warning messages, in the absence of profound analyses based on precise documented information.”

To Keep Facts Alive

“You can hardly find a book or two written in the Kurdish Language about ‘Daesh Organization’.  A book that can chronicle and documents the emergence of Daesh, despite the fact that they had dominated large areas in Kurdistan and committed cruel crimes against the Kurds and seriously threatened the entity of the entire Kurdistan province during the early stages of their appearance”, Beira says.

He adds saying,” The Kurds failed to document the internal fighting in the province from 1994 to 1998. Neither could they document Al-Anfal or Halabja catastrophes, or the million -immigration operation except by a few novels, stories and narrative articles. They did not care much about writing insightful reports and articles or researches. And when you try to trace such critical stages in the history of the Kurdish nation, you can hardly find something written and with the lapse of years, those who lived such significant historical events can scarcely recall many of them and in the absence of the badly-needed documentation many of the facts get lost.”

The author draws attention that ‘although the Yazidis published hundreds of stories about the violent acts of murder, enslavement and abduction inflicted on them, yet most of their writings are not more than stories of personal dimensions or mere digital documentation processes. They actually did not care enough to give their due attention to conducting investigations and profound analytical articles that can deeply scrutinize the details and roots of what had happened to them.

In the same context, he continues saying, “That is why I really found it necessary to take advantage of my intensive close observation of the whole situation, and write a book for the upcoming generations, containing a part of the worthwhile information I had collected and watched with my very own eyes during the past four years.”

He points out that the book is ‘far away from the personal vision or judgments of the writer’. “The matter of the fact is that it introduces precise information collected by the author himself without any prejudice. It also presents some of the best works written by the best Iraqi and international journalists in the course of their close coverage whether of the battles fought during those catastrophic years or the information they collected about ISIS Organization during their rule of Mosul and Al-Anbar.

Humanitarian Stories and Analytical Articles

Beira goes on saying, “The book also contains many regretful shocking stories and incidents narrated by those who managed to flee from the organization’s massacres and detention centers, in addition to other analytical articles about the emergence of ISIS, their modus operandi, their fast expansion and finally their decline and resounding collapse.”

The writer says that ISIS Organization is not just a bygone page of the region’s history, simply because it seems to have changed the face and identity of the region through the repercussions and impacts left by them, as regards the structure of the ruling system, the nature of its religious rhetoric and the future of the extremist politico-Islamic groups, particularly the ‘Jihadist Salafi’ forces. Such a horrific page has actually imposed new regional and international political realities and calculations. ‘It has actually brought about decisive facts beyond any suspicion concerning the exploitation of faith and sectarianism by some regional and international powers to achieve their political, economic, sectarian and national interests.’

The writer warns that ‘such a great event together with its catastrophic disasters that had struck the area after the sudden emergence of an extremist armed group recruiting thousands of militants and moving far away from the international law without any moral controls, a force capable of destroying and threatening the lives of millions of people- such a great event cannot pass away without being dealt with our due attention. This actually necessitates profound investigation of all its tragic happenings to let the rising generation be quite aware of its risks and learn useful lessons from what had happened and exert whatever efforts possible to prevent its repetition in the decades to come.

   Irreparable Change

Beira called on the various press and cultural centers and the research establishments of the universities as well as writers and researchers to do their duty through directing all their capabilities towards writing profound books and conducting studies about what had happened. In Kurdistan, for example, the organization stormed vast areas that are supposed to be fortified by tens of thousands of well-armed Peshmerga forces.

And socially speaking, the crimes perpetrated by the organization resulted in the displacement of over 350,000 Yazidis from their present homes and the immigration of more than 120,000 people outside the country and the remaining numbers had turned overnight into refugees and there is a likelihood that they would settle in their present regions with little or no hope of their return to where they originally belong, a regretful state of affairs that will eventually effectuate an irreversible demographic change. The same very situation applies to the Christians whose existence as a human bloc had become threatened in Ninwa Valley after their departure from the city of Mosul.

It is noteworthy that the cover of the book is designed by both Hisham Shakraggy and Shorsh Ghafourry. As for the photos, they are taken by the photographic journalist Safeen Hameed, one of the photographers who had been working for years at the front lines of the battlefields and transferred to the entire world dozens of shocking photos picturing the horrific crimes committed by Daesh.

 Journalistic Lessons

Shawan Ahmed, an activist concerned with the field of journalism, says that the book of ‘Daesh Era’ is not a mere book documenting the details of ISIS Organization or the speedy aggravation of its power during a historical critical moment of conflicting regional and perhaps international undeclared interests, not to mention the different motives of the organization’s movements and its excessive extremism and radical objectives.  Neither is the book only concerned with documenting the crimes perpetrated by the organization against the peoples of the region or the social calamities and ruins left by them, a huge volume of destruction that necessitates long decades to be reconstructed. It is actually a book that can show journalists how to prepare and write investigative and press reports characterized with human dimensions, an indispensable book that sounds missing in the Kurdish libraries.”

He adds that the investigations within the book ‘combines facts with incidents through manipulating a high degree of professionalism and neutrality, and the easy humanly language with a powerful dramatic structure. As for the articles written in the book, they are not mere opinion articles written by well-known writers, but they can be regarded as models of profound analytical writing exposing different viewpoints regardless of any national or sectarian belongingness; being mainly dependent on precise facts and analysis of the realities on the ground while diving deeply into the details of all events.

In a nutshell, he concludes that many of the materials within the book can establish a training reference for students studying journalism in universities and other information establishments, as regards the writing of analytical articles, press reports and investigations characterized with humanitarian dimensions.

Dleer Ottoman, a secondary school teacher, thinks that the Kurdish writers should pay more and more attention to writing books that can analyze the causes behind the rise of such extremist organizations and the background that can assist their expansion and prevalence, and the threats and risks resulting from their criminal activities.

He refers that “the success achieved by Daesh Organization in recruiting tens of Kurdish youth at the very beginning of their activities, could have posed a bigger threat to the province, if it were not for the international community which moved quickly against the organization and took their decision to destroy it once and for all”. He points out that the risks of the birth of similar organizations still exist, if the causes behind their emergence cannot be radically rectified and totally eradicated.

Sabah Kurdistan