ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — An Arab Sheikh now living in Erbil explains why under duress and surrounded by ISIS members he denounced his brother saying he should be killed. His brother is the Mosul governor.
On April 7, 2017, ISIS released a 10-minute video recording of some Arab tribe leaders, Sheikhs and other figures from Mosul. Sheikh Faysal Hamadi is one of those appearing in the footage pledging allegiance to ISIS. Hamadi, who currently lives in Erbil, is the brother of Nawfal Hamadi who is governor of Mosul.
In the video, Sheikh Faysal is sat next to an ISIS emir. He reads a message on behalf of Abu Hamad tribes. He disowns and denounces his brother in the footage.
“They informed us a day before that all tribe leaders had to be there, none of us knew why. They then brought a statement and asked me to read it. I had a look at the letter, only to find out that it was denouncing my brother. I didn’t know what to do. An ISIS emir said that I had to read it, and I had no other choices other than reading it. Denouncing your brother and declaring him an apostate under duress was an unpleasant feeling,” Sheikh Faysal told Rudaw in his brother Nawfal’s house in Erbil.
“They would have killed me if I refused to read out the statement. ISIS had come asking me for the inheritance of Nawfal and another brother, saying that we had inherited a house and that we had to give the inheritance of this apostate to the Islamic State,” he added.
In the footage, Sheikh Faysal describes the Peshmerga as “slaves of crusaders.”
“They insisted that I say things against the Peshmerga because it was the Peshmerga that halted their advances. They hated the Peshmerga forces,” Sheikh Faysal added.
“When ISIS captured Mosul, they didn’t talk to me. They dealt with me normally. They seized my home, my restaurant and some farm lands after my brother Nawfal became governor. They were constantly watching me. I had to inform ISIS militants everyday of where I was going to and what I was doing. I couldn’t disappear of their sight,” he explained.
Sheikh Faysal is from the Abu Hamad tribe totaling nearly 15,000 members. He says 121 from his tribe who were with the Iraqi army and police forces were killed by ISIS. He also said that more than 60 people from his tribe who had paid allegiance to ISIS were killed by the Peshmerga and Iraqi army.
Sheikh Faysal is 66 years old.
“There was oppression against the people of Mosul. Sixty percent of the army and police forces were ghost employees. This made it easier for ISIS to invade Mosul in a short period of time,” he said.
He criticizes the previous Iraqi government led by Nouri al-Maliki.
“From time to time, they were taking a group of people to outside Mosul and killing them for connections with al-Qaeda. This made the people of Mosul help ISIS militants who could then control the city easily,” he said.
Sheikh Faysal talked about ISIS’s initial rule in Mosul.
“In the beginning, their treatment was very good. They forgave all army and police employees. After five months, they closed Mosul roads and started killing and beheading the security establishment’s officers and employees, killing hundreds of people,” he said.
He says most people in positions of power in Mosul were Arab Iraqis from the city itself, mostly from the Abu Badran, Hadidi and Abu Hamdan tribes.
He says the head of tribal affairs in Mosul was “Abu Hajeel Badrani who was from Mosul. He pressured that I had to read the statement. This ISIS emir was killed later.” “There were no tribes that didn’t have ISIS fighters.”
Regarding the presence of Mosul Kurds within ISIS or Kurdish tribal leaders and publish figures pledging allegiance to ISIS, he said: “ISIS expelled the Kurds and Christians upon their arrival. They forcibly took us to pledge allegiance and denounce our relatives. There were no Kurdish tribe leaders or personalities with us.”
“There was 24-hour electricity. If we had water shortages, we were informing them and they would come and fix it the day after. Food was cheap. But there was no money, as there was salary,” he said.
On July 5, 2014, Abu Bakir Baghdadi gave a Friday sermon at Nouri Mosque in Mosul and introduced himself as Caliph.
“When ISIS first entered Mosul, mobile phone connection wasn’t cut, nor was it forbidden. Mobile phone connection was cut a few hours before Friday prayers. We then realized Abu Bakir Baghdadi had preached on Friday at Nouri Mosque and appointed himself as a Caliph,” he said.
“People were more afraid of Hisba group, which was terrifying. It was a repressive security agency. It was normal for them to arrest someone and kill him on the spot,” he said.
Sheikh Faysal along with wife and children numbered 24. They had gone to a relative’s home at the outset of Mosul offensive. They would hide there for some days. They get out of there after the ISIS head in the areas was killed.
“ISIS militants didn’t recognize me. We reached the Iraqi army seven months ago during the Gayara operation. We were afraid ISIS might shoot us from behind. But thank God we reached the Iraqi army.
Then I came to Erbil where I was received respectfully. Ii visited the Asayesh and explained the matter to them," he explained. "They showed understanding to my situation."