This Controversial Instagram Account Lets You Decide Whether ‘ISIS Fighters’ Live Or Die

news

Editor's note: This post contains graphic content.


The unfiltered photo posted on March 28, 2016 shows a disheveled man being dragged through the dirt by members of an Iraqi militia. The caption begins: “We have arrested one of isis in south of Mosul.”

But the man isn’t being dragged to a prison cell to await trial. His fate will be decided much quicker than that. In fact, it will be decided immediately — by you, the follower. “You can vote For (kill him or let him go),” the caption continues in botched English. “We will post his fate after one houer.”

Screen grab from Instagram

Hundreds of comments pour in immediately, many of them in English. The word “kill” pops up line after line. No mercy for this man. “On behalf of ALL red blooded americans,” someone writes, “give em the kill.”

Two hours later another photo is posted to the account with a simple caption: “Thanks for vote.” It’s a selfie taken by a member of the militia. Behind him the man from the previous photo lies face down on a concrete platform in a pool of blood.

Screen grab from Instagram

This is @iraqiswat, the Instagram account of what appears to be an Iranian-backed Shia militia currently operating in Iraq.

A quick scroll through the group’s feed reveals a running catalogue of life on the front line in the war against ISIS. There are countless videos of gun battles, triumphant group photos among the wreckage of captured towns, ISIS-bashing memes, hero shots of Abo Azrael (aka the “Iraqi Rambo”), and tributes to the fallen. There’s also the occasional diatribe, including one recent rant imploring American commenters to stop “trash talking” Iraqi troops.

Screen grab from Instagram

But the most popular posts are consistently the before/after photographs of men who were apparently tried, convicted, and sentenced to death by some of the account's nearly 75K followers. While Instagram states in the “community guidelines” section of its website that sharing “graphic images for sadistic pleasure or to glorify violence is never allowed,” it states elsewhere that the company “does not have any obligation to prescreen” content. Thus, many of the photos remain on the account before enough complaints force Instagram to take them down.

So who’s complaining? ISIS, apparently:

Screen grab from Instagram

At a time when combatants on all sides of the conflict are using social media to rally support and undermine their foes, trial by Instagram adds another, more troubling dimension to the mix. It transcends the digital sphere, giving people around the world an opportunity to play — or at least feel like they’re playing — a direct role in a war being waged in the remote villages and desert plains of the Middle East.

In theory, a guy on the toilet in Omaha, Nebraska, could emerge from the bathroom with the blood of some 18-year-old Syrian on his hands.  

How can anyone be certain that the men being summarily executed in these photos are actually ISIS fighters? They can’t. But it doesn’t matter, because Instagram isn’t a courthouse and these aren’t actual trials. It’s a game. And in this game there’s always only one outcome: “kill.”

Screen grab from Instagram

On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.

Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.

In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Army/Pvt. Stephen Peters)

With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.

After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.

Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.

McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Andrew Ochoa)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.

The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.

They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.

It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.

Read More Show Less
(Reuters/Carlos Barria)

WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) - President Donald Trump imposed new U.S. sanctions onIran on Monday following Tehran's downing of an unmanned American drone and said the measures would target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Trump told reporters he was signing an executive order for the sanctions amid tensions between the United States and Iran that have grown since May, when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil.

Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone. He said the supreme leaders was ultimately responsible for what Trump called "the hostile conduct of the regime."

"Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support," Trump said.

Read More Show Less