The Corner

Life (and Death) under Al-Qaeda

Here via The Daily Telegraph is an account of life under Al-Qaeda’s variant of religiously-inspired totalitarianism. Even the more farcical examples it contains are horrifying in their implications for the autonomy of an individual forced to live in a theocracy:

Al-Qa’eda is losing support in Iraq because of a brutal crackdown on activities it regards as un-Islamic – including women buying cucumbers.

Besides the terrible killings inflicted by the fanatics on those who refuse to pledge allegiance to them, Al-Qa’eda has lost credibility for imposing a series of rules imposing their way of thought on the most mundane aspects of everyday life.

They include a ban on women buying suggestively-shaped vegetables, according to one tribal leader in the western province of Anbar.

Sheikh Hameed al-Hayyes, a Sunni elder, told Reuters: “They even killed female goats because their private parts were not covered and their tails were pointed upward, which they said was haram.

“They regarded the cucumber as male and tomato as female. Women were not allowed to buy cucumbers, only men.”

Other farcical stipulations include an edict not to buy or sell ice-cream, because it did not exist in the time of the Prophet, while hair salons and shops selling cosmetics have also been bombed. 

Most seriously, Sheikh al-Hayyes said: “I saw them slaughter a nine-year old boy like a sheep because his family didn’t pledge allegiance to them.”

Such tactics have triggered a backlash among Sunnis, whom Al-Q’aeda had claimed to be protecting, the sheikh and military leaders said.

Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Albers, an American intelligence officer, told the news agency: “Al-Qa’eda’s very heavy-handed killing of civilians backfired on them. The Sunnis just wouldn’t stand for it any more.

“The self-described protectors of the Sunni community now kill more Iraqi Sunnis than anyone else.”

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