Iraq: Messages from ISIL territory ask forgiveness for murder

    Iraq: Messages from ISIL territory ask forgiveness for murder

    Sept.20, The practice of writing a prominent official or scholar for advice dates back hundreds of years, if not more. In the 1690s, for example, Londoners sent letters to the Athenian Mercury, a twice weekly newspaper that published the questions about everything from love to sin. Religious figures have also frequently been sought out for correspondence by people seeking absolution or guidance in times of hardship. Such exchanges have long been a window into society’s fears and anxieties.

    Indeed the same may be true for written correspondence from individuals living in parts of Iraq controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which paints a bleak picture of life for both ISIL members and civilians still living under the its control.

    The correspondence, obtained by The Intercept and Al Jazeera, was sent to a religious scholar living in Jordan who has been associated with other groups in the past, but is critical of ISIL. The messages come from people in ISIL-held territory, both members of the group and civilians, who are seeking his religious advice. Wanting such counsel from religious figures is common in the Muslim world, but the recipient of these messages in particularly respected among Muslims in Iraq, Syria and Jordan.

    The advice seekers are unrelated: one is an ISIL fighter in Fallujah, and the other is a Sunni Muslim civilian living in Mosul.

    The correspondence took place from early June to mid August, and coincided with major events in those cities reported by international media – including the Iraqi government’s offensive to retake Fallujah and the increasing pressure on the inhabitants of Mosul in preparation for the operation.

    "The battle for Fallujah was a success in that it ended with ISIS driven out and a government established that had representation from the local Sunni community," says Nathaniel Rabkin, managing editor of the political risk publication Inside Iraq Politics.

    "Having said that, there was a lot of ugliness associated with the campaign, including damage to infrastructure and allegations of abuses by Shia militia groups."

    The Oslo Times International News Network