Skip to main content

IS targets truffle hunters across Sunni regions

Many civilians and local security forces have been kidnapped or killed in recent weeks while looking for white truffles, mostly in desert and mountainous areas of Sunni-dominant provinces.

QAIM, Iraq — Across the rocky and grass-speckled desert of western Anbar, it is white truffle season. Locals can be seen scanning the ground in search of truffles, along the road that stretches from Haditha to Qaim and then the Syrian border. Yet, in recent weeks, a rash of kidnappings and killings of truffle hunters has marred this seasonal tradition and raised concerns of Islamic State (IS) sleeper cells.

On Feb. 18, 12 men from Anbar, Karbala and Najaf were kidnapped while picking truffles in the al-Nukhaib district of southern Anbar province. The next day, six bodies were reportedly found in same area, which is close to the Iraqi border with Saudi Arabia.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.