To the villagers who fled, Zowiya is now a graveyard for all they’ve ever known. Their houses have been razed, their neighbors are dead, and their tribal codes have been violated in ways they never dreamed possible.
For the extremist fighters who overran Zowiya this week in a fury of mortars and bullets, the ruins of the Sunni Muslim village carry a different symbolism: an example for any “turncoats” who dare resist the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate.
“What we saw is nothing like anything in all of history, not even under Hulagu,” said a 55-year-old survivor of the attack, Abu Omar al Jubouri, alluding to the 13th century Mongol ruler who laid waste to Baghdad.
The Islamic State heralded the “cleansing” of the village, which is near Tikrit in northern Iraq, in an Internet posting, bragging that it had blown up villagers’ homes, which it called “hideouts,” killed 28, wounded many more and driven the remainder from the village. It warned that “all those who may even think about fighting the Islamic State and conspiring against the caliphate can know what their fate will be.”