KIRKUK, Iraq — The desperation of a little-known minority fleeing the Islamic State and religious persecution has led some to deny their faith and others to take up arms.
Like the Christian and Yazidi minorities before them, the Kakais are forming an armed force to protect themselves. Also called “Yarsan” or “Ahel al-Haqq,” the Kakais were displaced from the Ninevah Plain area when IS invaded Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, in the summer of 2014. The Kakai creed dates back to the 14th century in western Iran and contains elements of Zoroastrianism and Shiism. They have been persecuted for their unusual beliefs, driving them to keep a low profile and giving them a reputation for being secretive.