MESOP FOCUS : ‘It would have been less painful if the murderer was not a Kurd’ / Hujam Khidr beheaded

by Tayar Adil Goran – RUDAW – 5 Feb 2015 – BARDARASH, Kurdistan Region – When the Islamic State (ISIS) occupied Mosul last June, three Kurdish brothers from Bardarash village wasted no time in joining ISIS there. The trio did not receive much attention until recently, when one beheaded Hujam Khidr, a Kurdish Peshmerga who was captured by ISIS in August.

The brothers – Younis, Muafaq and Musa — were former al-Qaeda operatives in Mosul who in 2008 moved to the Kurdish village of Bardarash, less than an hour east of Mosul, where they opened two bakery shops. Two of the brothers, Musa and Younis, were killed in attacks on Peshmerga troops in January.

A video released last week showed Muafaq with his hand on Hujam’s head and a knife in his belt, as he threatened to behead US President Barack Obama and occupy the White House. Then he directly threatened Kurdish President Massoud Barzani, as he beheaded the Kurdish Peshmerga. The slain soldier joined the Kurdish military in 1995. He lived in a village west of Bardarash with his wife and 10 children. Hujam was wounded and captured in a surprise August 6 attack on the Peshmerga in Nawaran, according to his brother, Malik Abdulrahman. He was taken to Mosul with other captives.According to Malik, Muafaq was in charge of the prison where Hujam was held during his entire captivity. Malik added that the same day his brother was captured, one of Muafaq’s brothers – Younis – was killed in clashes with the Peshmerga. Younis joined al-Qaeda after the US-led invasion of 2003. He was reportedly effective in targeting US military Humvees with rocket propelled grenades, earning him the nickname “Younis RPG.” The brothers, who were under Kurdish security surveillance, were once detained but later released.A barber whose shop was next to the bakery run by Muafaq remembered him always talking about Islam. He had memorized the Quran and often led prayers, he told Rudaw. Abdulkarim Zebari, who is married to a sister of the three brothers, now runs the bakeries, but denies any association with the three Kurdish ISIS militants.

“I bought the bakery shops from them,” he said. “My wife and I have no association with the brothers and we condemn their brutal acts,” he said, adding that his wife had disowned Muafaq.

Malik, the slain Peshmerga’s brother, said that Muafaq had known Hujam well.

“A large number of Peshmerga from Hujam’s village were effective in the recent assaults against ISIS. That could be one reason why he chose to behead my brother,” he said. Malik added: “Hujam’s family was expecting him back. His eldest son built a new house. He had pledged not to move in until his father’s return.” A Peshmerga source said that Muafaq had led an ISIS attack on Kurdish forces in Nawaran two days after images of his dead brother were released. In that attack, he also lost his other brother, Musa, whose body was taken by the Peshmerga. “When Muafaq learned that his brother’s body was taken by the Peshmerga he initiated the second attack to recover the corpse. But he was injured and taken back to Mosul,” the source said.Malik, the dead Peshmerga’s brother, said in anger that he does not want Muafaq dead: “I don’t want anyone kill Muafaq. I want Muafaq alive. I know what to do to him,” he said.

“It would have been less painful if the murderer was not a Kurd,” he said.