A brave woman leads the fight to protect her city from ISIS. She has her own militia and is at the top of the “ISIS assassination list”.
When your family and neighbors are threatened, dialing 911 doesn’t help. Being prepared, both materially and mentally, is the answer, as Um Hanadi knows, and as the people of southern Mexico, the Grupos de Autodefensa Comunitaria, know. Stewart Rhodes put it succinctly, in an email to me:
“It takes a village, and it takes a militia, to turn the table on dirtbag murderers and wanna-be tyrants and warlords, all over the world. Nothing new under the sun.”
– Shorty Dawkins
by Ben Wedeman, CNN Senior International Correspondent
Shirqat, Iraq (CNN)”Shut up and stay still,” the woman in black fatigues and a black headscarf snapped over her shoulder at the armed men behind her as she sat down for an interview.
Immediately they went quiet, each adjusting his weapon and standing up straight as if he’d been called to attention.
This is a woman who commands respect, I thought. She keeps a Beretta 9-millimeter pistol in a holster under her left arm. The area around the trigger was silver where the paint had worn off.
The woman in question, 39-year-old Wahida Mohamed — better known as Um Hanadi — leads a force of around 70 men in the area of Shirqat, a town 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Mosul, Iraq.
She and her men, part of a tribal militia, recently helped government forces drive ISIS out of the town.
In the man’s world that is rural Iraq, female fighters are a rarity.
Um Hanadi is not new to this.
“I began fighting the terrorists in 2004, working with Iraqi security forces and the coalition,” she says. As a result, she attracted the wrath of what eventually became al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which later morphed into ISIS.
“I received threats from the top leadership of ISIS, including from Abu Bakr (al-Baghdadi) himself,” she says, referring to ISIS’s self-declared caliph.
“But I refused.”
“I’m at the top of their most wanted list,” she brags, “even more than the Prime Minister.”
Um Hanadi ticks off the times they planted car bombs outside her home. “2006, 2009, 2010, three car bombs in 2013 and in 2014.”
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