Camp Speicher massacre
|Camp Speicher massacre|
|Part of Northern Iraq offensive (June 2014), persecution of Shias by ISIL and War in Iraq|
|Date||12 June 2014|
|Target||Shia militiamen and Iraqi Army cadets|
|Mass murder, terrorism, ethnic cleansing|
|Deaths||1,095 to 1,700|
|Perpetrators||Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Albu Ajeel tribe, Ba'ath loyalists|
The Camp Speicher massacre occurred on 12 June 2014, when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) killed from 1,095 to 1,700 Iraqi people in an attack on Camp Speicher in Tikrit, Iraq. At the time of the massacre, there were between 5,000 and 10,000 unarmed cadets in the camp, and ISIL fighters selected the Shias and non-Muslims for execution. It is the second deadliest act of terrorism in history, only surpassed by the September 11 attacks.
The Iraqi government blamed the massacre on ISIL.
Before the massacre, according to the Iraqi politician Mish'an al-Jubori, "Some of the chief officers of the camp ordered the cadets to have a rest for 15 days and to go to their families, with civilian clothes". Several survivors later testified that their senior officers in the camp had forced them to leave the camp. Hassan Khalil, one survivor, who managed to escape by pretending to be dead under another corpse and fleeing at night, said: "Our chief officers are the reason behind the killings. They forced us to leave Speicher. They assured us there was a safe passage, that it was guarded by the tribes, and told us not to wear uniforms." "They sold us to ISIS" he added. The Iraqi government and national television refuted that story. They said the cadets forced their way out of the camps after the military had already dispatched special forces to the dangerous camps' area to secure them, and that they'd been warned against leaving.
400 cadets ordered to leave Camp Speicher before the attack were arrested by government forces and are missing.
While the cadets were walking on the highway looking for a bus to take them to Baghdad, two buses stopped near them with 10 armed men inside. One bus was driven by Ayman Sabawi Ibrahim, the son of Saddam Hussein's half-brother, Sabawi Ibrahim al-Tikriti. Several more buses with ISIL members arrived, and the cadets were kidnapped at gunpoint and taken to the Al-Qusour Al-Re'asiya region.
Peter Bouckaert, the emergencies director for Human Rights Watch (HRW), stated: "The photos and satellite images from Tikrit provide strong evidence of a horrible war crime that needs further investigation. [ISIS] and other abusive forces should know that the eyes of Iraqis and the world are watching".
The photos show masked ISIL fighters tying up the cadets and loading them up on trucks, with other photographs showing ISIL fighters killing dozens of the cadets with assault rifles while they are lying down. ISIL propaganda videos show them shooting at hundreds of men lined up in mass graves in the desert. Some cadets faked their death, covering themselves with blood and escaping at night. Survivor Ali Hussein Kadhim told his story to The New York Times following his escape from the massacre.
ISIL released footage of the massacre as part of their propaganda video Upon the Prophetic Methodology. The cadets are seen being crammed into trucks, some of them wearing civilian clothes to hide their military uniforms. Most of them are lying on the ground, with their jeans stripped to reveal camouflage uniforms underneath. Some of the prisoners were forced to defame Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, while others were forced to shout "long live the Islamic State". Some of them lined up as a cadet was beaten to death with a rifle. The killing methods varied, from shooting the cadets one by one to shooting them while lying down many times to ensure death. Some cadets were shot and thrown into the Tigris river.
The Iraqi government said that 57 members of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party had taken part in the massacre. Although pictures showed that every armed man was from ISIS, the government stated "Without any doubts and suspicion, all of these criminals are from the banned Ba'ath Party." The Minister of Defense, Sa'dun al-Dulaimi, stated that the massacre was not sectarian in nature. Although the spokesman of the Iraqi Armed Forces, Qasim Atta, stated that there were almost 11,000 cadets and soldiers missing from Camp Speicher; he also stated that thousands were executed in or near the presidential palaces, the al-Bu Agail region, and the Badoush prison by sectarian violence.
On 2 September, more than 100 members of the families of the killed and missing cadets and soldiers broke into the Iraqi Parliament and hit three of the security guards. After a day, a session started in the parliament with the attendance of representatives of the families and Sa'dun al-Dulaimi, along with other military officials to discuss the massacre.
On 16 September, the Kurdish Asayish arrested four people suspected to be involved in the massacre in southern Kirkuk. An unnamed security source stated, "The operation was executed by relying on intelligence information to arrest them."
On 18 September, the Iraqi Human Rights ministry stated that as of 17 September, the total number of missing soldiers and cadets was 1,095, denying the most popular figure of 1,700 soldiers having been killed. The ministry added, "The ministry relied in its statistics on spreading forms on the families of the missing people in Baghdad and the other governorate within its quest to document the crimes and violations that the terrorist group of the Islamic State is committing towards our people." The Iraqi government ordered them to pay 10 million Iraqi dinar (equivalent to US$8,600) to the families of the missing cadets.
Fall of ISIL
Following the Iraqi forces' victory over ISIL in Tikrit in early April 2015, mass graves containing some of the murdered cadets were located and the decomposed corpses began to be exhumed. Two of the alleged perpetrators of the massacre were arrested in Forssa, Finland, in December 2015. The suspects were identified from ISIL propaganda videos in which the executions of 11 men took place. Police did not disclose whether the men had made applications for asylum in Finland. On 13 December 2016, the 24-year-old twins were charged with murder and committing a war crime for allegedly killing unarmed cadets, as well as "aggravated assault with terrorist aims". They were acquitted by the Pirkanmaa District Court in May 2017. After the prosecution appealed the ruling they were again acquitted by the Turku Court of Appeal in February 2020 due to lack of evidence for the involvement of the brothers in the massacre.
In August 2016, 36 men were executed by hanging for their part in the massacre. On 6 September 2016, three mass graves were found by the Kata’ib al-Imam brigade containing the remains of over 30 people killed in the massacre. In August 2017, 27 people were sentenced to death for their involvement in the massacre, and another 25 men were released due to lack of evidence.
Memorial of martyrs of the Camp Speicher massacre in Saddam Hussein's Presidential palace.
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