Iraq has executed 36 men responsible for an ISIS massacre that killed more than 1,700 Iraqi soldiers in 2014. The brutal June 2014 mass execution took place after ISIS soldiers seized the hometown of Saddam Hussein Tikrit, Iraq. The Iraqi soldiers were stationed at a nearby former U.S. military base known as Camp Speicher. The Islamic State systematically shot, beheaded, and even strangled the men to death with their bare hands. The massacre is remembered as particularly gruesome display of the absolute lack of humanity shared by ISIS members. The men gleefully laughed and posted pictures to social media while the attack was still being carried out.
The images posted to social media outraged the family and friends of the victims. The massive public outcry for justice caused prime Minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi, to fast-track the executions after the violators were condemned to death earlier this year. All 36 men were hanged to death on Sunday in Baghdad. Four additional men were convicted with the other 36 men in February but are currently awaiting appeals.
ISIS released brutal footage of their war crimes. The video below shows ISIS militants forcing the Iraqi soldiers to lay face-down in a ditch before executing them one by one. Please be advised that the content below is extremely graphic.
Critics of the Iraqi government claim that the executions were a knee-jerk reaction to a July 3, 2016 bombing that took place in Baghdad and left 300 dead. ISIS militants damaged a popular shopping district so badly that traffic through the area was shut down for more than seven weeks. The executions are being called a hallow action to satisfy local civilians desire for justice. NPR‘s Alison Meuse reported on the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Right’s concerns of “U.N. findings on a lack of due process and a reliance on torture to extract confessions” in the past.
Several of the executed men claimed to have been no where near the city of Tikrit at the time of the massacre. Others have claimed they were denied access to lawyers or were tortured and forced into confession. The rights group Amnesty International has ranked Iraq as one of the top five countries in the world in the use of capital punishment, leading to concerns that some of the men executed were not present during the massacre.
Iraqi officials claim that up to 200 men participated in the Camp Speicher massacre. An Iraqi government official, Hisham Hashimi, called the execution of the ISIS fighters a mere “momentary painkiller” in the fight against ISIS.