Extrajudicial “Justice” and the Decapitation of Mohammad Marroush.
At top, according to rebels and activists in Syria, is an image of Mohammad Fares Marroush, a Sunni fighter in Ahrar al-Sham, one of the prominent armed Islamist groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad. At bottom is a more recent image, said to show Mr. Marroush’s fate at the hands of sanctimonious young men from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, an opposition formation aligned with al Qaeda.
Background: Ahrar al-Sham and ISIS are close allies, which means that the men shown displaying what is said to be Mr. Marroush’s severed head were officially Mr. Marroush’s friends.
So how does this work? If the early accounts of this execution are true, it was all a mix-up. Mr. Marroush was recently wounded in battle against loyalist Shia fighters in Aleppo. Rushed to a hospital, he was placed under anesthesia for surgery, according to accounts from activists and rebels. While still under the influence of that anesthesia, he was overhead muttering the phrases “Ya Ali” and “Ya Hussein.”
And that was apparently the beginning and the end of the case against him.
His words, the incoherent jumble of a man in a surgical fog, were taken by his executioners as evidence that he was an adherent of Shia Islam. He was promptly beheaded, while asleep, perhaps with the knife the young man in the lower image is holding in his left hand.
Mr. Marroush was in his mid- to late twenties, and from Hraytan. There is no word yet as to where he was buried, or of his family, or of any reaction by Ahrar al-Sham.
At the current state of the conversation, the top image now carries an especially bitter irony. That image is a screen grab from this video, in which Mr. Marroush is energetically praising ISIS. The second image comes from this other video, in which ISIS answers back, holding his head high, while onlookers gawk and videotape the latest grim spectacle from the revolution to set Syria free.
There is of course the chance, because this is Syria, and this is war, that the accounts buzzing among rebels and their supporters today are not true. Falsehoods move with flash speed in and around Syria. Sometimes repetition and loudness are mistaken for truth. If that is the case here, then ISIS and Ahrar al-Sham should soon be setting straight the record. Mr. Marroush might appear in a fresh YouTube video and announce that reports of his death were premature.
So let’s watch the clock and see.
Meanwhile, the two young men presenting for public view the severed head — someone’s severed head — should be easy enough to identify. ISIS, in its messaging, insists it believes in, and can be, a discerning arbiter of justice. What might it have to say to them?
Update, Thursday: ISIS has taken responsibility for the mistaken beheading of Mr. Marroush. Below are statements attributed to an ISIS leader and quickly translated from Arabic by Karam Shoumali. For those who follow institutions and groups that wage war, the statements follow the common course taken when an outfit is confronted with a lethal public error that could not be denied. In sum: Yes, we made a mistake. But because we meant well, and it was a mistake, we’re OK with it, and we’d like everyone else to be OK with it, too.
from Sheikh Omar Al Qahtani, one of the leaders and judges in ISIS, in regards to the incident of killing the Ahrar fighter
1- in an area called Nkeirin, a front in Aleppo where fighters from Ahrar and ISIS do Jihad, a front of attack and retreat.
2- our brother Mohammad Fares was wounded, his brothers rushed to hospitalize him and they know him because they come from the same place (Hraytan) along with other wounded fighters.
3-the fighters who hospitalized him said that Mohammad asked them to kill him thinking that he was captured by Rafida(Shiite). they got him to the hospital and everyone knows him left after that.
4- They asked a man (who doesn’t know Mohammad) to take care of him in their absence. he entered the room while mohammad was shouting: Ya Zaynab, Ya Hussein, thinking that he was captured.
5-the procedure in the hospital is to collect security informalion and our brothers in ISIS were in the hospital and they could hear his Polytheism appeals.
6-They asked the guy assigned for Mohammad about who he was and he said he is Rafidi brought by Ahrar and they wanted treat him for a matter they know. here brothers in ISIS killed him.
7- thinking that he was infidel upon what they heard from him and from the one assigned to take care of him. and since it is rageful hours of war with Rafida.
8 so we ask God to accept our brother Mohammad fares a good acceptance. and forgive his brothers their act which was meant to ba against the enemy of God and their enemy.
9- O respectful readers, i remind you that this mistake happens and repeats itself in the battlefields and in Jihad spots as people of Jihad do know.
10- and here those who know this matter mentioned in a detailed manner and discussed: the killing of whose infidelity or was though to be infidel and his Islam was hidden.
11-Ibn HAzm said in His book(Al Mohalla): Khaled didn’t kill bani Jozaima unless after he believed they were infidels,and didn’t know that their say’ Sab’na Sab’na comes from true Islam, Osama also didn’t know.
12-and Prophet Mohammad said (about some one who announced that he was not a muslim): he only said it because of his fear of the sword.
13-also the group who rushed in killing has not stopped praying since then. they did a wrong killing after a wrong assumption.
14-inn Taymeya said: what was forbidden by God of killing, if done after an assumption and thinking, it is not Haram and who does that is not Kafir. there is no Qasas in that (revenge).
18 and with all mentioned above, this incident will take a Sharia legal Judicial procedure. Wallah if they have right on us, they will take it.