The West

Jihadists spell out message in blood

Jihadists in Iraq have cemented their reputation for brutality by boasting of slaughtering 1700 soldiers and tweeting a picture of what they say is the decapitated head of a police officer.

The tweet said: "This is our football, it's made of skin #World Cup."

The claims fit a pattern of jihadist military gains marked by extreme and bloodthirsty cruelty.

According to the United Nations, summary executions of civilians, Iraqi soldiers and police included 17 in one street alone.

In one video, fighters knock on the door of a Sunni police major before handcuffing him, blindfolding him and decapitating him.

The fighters are mostly masked and black-clad, but one man is never shy. For those unfortunate enough to cross him, the face of Shakir Wahiyib is often the last they will see.

He stars in a series of grisly jihadist videos, including one in which three men are executed after failing his "Koranic quiz".

Wahiyib is one of the few publicly identified leaders of the shadowy movement that has swept through northern Iraq.

The group generally instructs followers to keep their faces masked to minimise the chances of being tracked down by the Iraqi Government.

Its commander-in-chief, Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, is even said to disguise himself while meeting fellow commanders. Yet Wahiyib appears to show no such concern as he grins for the cameras with his underlings.

Images of him posing with machineguns and interrogating prisoners may be more than a personal vanity project. They appear to be an attempt by an otherwise anonymous organisation to graft a human face on to its campaign of terror.

Officials in Iraq's Anbar province have put a $50,000 bounty on Wahiyib's head. "He is dangerous and cunning," Colonel Yassin Dwaij, a senior provincial police officer, said.

Wahiyib gained notoriety when internet footage emerged last northern summer in which he is shown ordering the deaths of three Syrian truck drivers.

After asking if they belonged to the Alawite sect of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, he questions them on their religious knowledge. He then orders them to kneel, before a militiaman kills them with machinegun fire.

The West Australian

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