By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
The “wild boar kill ISIS” story is the one that keeps on giving. It began as a simple story about some ISIS members who went out to clear a farm that was infested with wild boar and who ended up being killed by the animals. That in itself was a great story and couldn’t have happened to more deserving people.
But then the story grew and grew. Now we hear from USA Today that the boars overran an ISIS “position.” Now the story has grown to claim that the ISIS members were setting up an ambush. Sheikh Anwar al-Assi, a chief of the local Ubaid tribe “said the group was poised to attack a band of local tribesmen who had fled to nearby mountains since militants seized the town of Hawija three years ago.” The sheikh was quoted in a piece by the Times of London.
The original English version of the story seems to have been put out on April 24th in Iraqinews.com. It claimed “Three Islamic State militants died late Sunday when wild boars attacked them in southern Kirkuk, a local source was quoted saying. The animals went on a rampage near a farmland in al-Rashad region, an Islamic State pocket 53 kilometers south of Kirkuk. They attacked the militants and left three killed, according to the source.” Alsumaria News was the local source: “Daesh (Islamic State) militants took revenge at the pigs that attacked the farmland.”
A story about a farm that had been ravaged by wild boar, ISIS members who went to remove the animals and who were subsequently attacked, turned into a much more “interesting” story as time went on. The Times of London: “ISIS members killed by wild boar as they hid waiting in ambush.” Others just ran the clickbait headline.
The Independent included the quote “mauled to death” in the headline, to give the story more authenticity. The report itself noted “It was unclear exactly how the fighters died or how the ‘revenge’ was carried out.” In the article itself the word “mauled” doesn’t seem to be a direct quote. Newsweek claimed the ISIS members died while “plotting” an ambush. The DailyCaller thought the pigs were on a “raid” and attacked an ISIS position. It has been picked up by Yahoo of course.
Kurdistan24 provided a more nuanced explanation. In their telling there were anti-ISIS tribes and ISIS had indeed crept into a group of reeds in ambush and were then killed by the pigs. “The situation is ironic since IS members consider boars ‘dirty’ animals whose meat is ‘haram,’ banned by Islamic law.” The report noted “IS has reportedly tried to kill the animals in revenge, but further details were not available.”
Now the fact that the boars went on a rampage in a gully of reeds and killed ISIS fighters might make more sense than the original farmland story because boars tend to hide out in ravines and areas where there is water and they can find reeds for bedding. Hikers tend to be harmed by wild boar in such settings. The fact that three ISIS fighters died is odd, which would lead one to imagine either that there were a large number of boar, the fighters were weak, or that one of the fighters, while being run over by boar, shot his friends while trying to shoot the animals. One could imagine a situation of several ISIS fighters spraying bullets everywhere while being set upon by animals.