IS kills 500 members of Albu Nimr tribe

Iraq's Albu Nimr tribe has a history of fighting al-Qaeda in the country.

al-monitor Tribal fighters look on as they take part in an intensive security deployment against Islamic State militants in the town of Amriyat Fallujah, in Anbar province, Oct. 31, 2014. Photo by REUTERS.

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isis, tribes, islamic state, iraq, anbar province

Nov 5, 2014

Arab and international media have put the Albu Nimr tribe under the spotlight following the execution of hundreds of its members by the Islamic State (IS) [in Iraq]. However, the role of the victim does not suit the tribe, famous for fiercely fighting al-Qaeda in the past and IS currently. The Sunni Albu Nimr tribe is one of the tribes that led the brigade fighting al-Qaeda in Anbar during 2005 and 2006 and was well known for its fierce fight against the organization that tried to convert Iraq into an emirate. But, what is this tribe from Anbar?

History of Albu Nimr tribe

Sheikh Naim Kaoud, affiliated with the Kaoud tribes, told An-Nahar about the emergence of this tribe. He said, “Albu Nimr tribe is part of the larger Dulaim tribe famous for opposing tyrants and occupations. Albu Nimr have, throughout history, showed courageous positions in defending Mesopotamia. The tribe is one of the largest tribes of Anbar and includes more than 500,000 people distributed over Anbar, Salahuddin, Mosul and Baghdad.”

Naim Kaoud added that the tribe was called Albu Nimr after one of its ancestors. He explained that one of the knights of the tribe, traveling in the desert on his horse, was attacked by three tigers — "nimr" in Arabic — and he got off his horse and killed them with his sword. Since then, the tribe has been called Albu Nimr, after this brave knight.

Fighting al-Qaeda in 2005 and 2006

The Dulaim tribe fought numerous battles against al-Qaeda during 2005 and 2006. Naim Kaoud said, “The tribe was the first among the Iraqi tribes to fight al-Qaeda in the past. It played a major role in destroying this organization in Iraq during 2005 and 2006.” He said, “In the past, the government armed this tribe and entrusted it to cleanse regions of Anbar. Dulaim’s success in doing so prevented the entry of any al-Qaeda member along 36 kilometers [22 miles] of the province.”

Fighting IS in 2014

Regarding the current fight against IS he said, “Albu Nimr has been fighting IS since Jan. 1, 2014, and it prevented it from entering the regions under its control, unlike other tribes whose regions fell directly into the hands of IS. Moreover, some tribes joined the ranks of IS, as happened in Mosul and Salahuddin.” Kaoud blamed the government for the current withdrawal of Albu Nimr from the regions that this tribe used to control and defend against IS. “The government's delay in providing us with weapons and equipment led to our withdrawal from the regions that we used to protect, which made it easy for IS to take its revenge against us,” said Kaoud.

The government is not arming us

Kaoud understood the government's reluctance to arm the tribes in Anbar, especially following news that some of the tribes sold the weapons they were given to fight IS. He said, “We understand the government’s reluctance to arm the tribes who sold arms to IS. But we are surprised by the delay it is showing in arming us since it is fully aware of the price we paid for fighting terrorism. The government knows that we turned down money offered by IS just to allow it to enter our regions, raise its banners and then get out. I have been in Baghdad for a week and I did not get a clear answer yet on the arms issue. Albu Nimr tribe will wage the battle with the weapons available if it does not obtain weapons from the government.”

500 members of Albu Nimr killed

Kaoud told An-Nahar, “To date, 497 tribe members have been killed, including 20 women and 16 children. Moreover, on Nov. 4, 2014, 46 people were executed at the headquarters of the army frogmen in Fawara village near Lake Tharthar (120 kilometers [74 miles] north of Baghdad), and on Nov. 3, 2014, 36 members from the tribe were kidnapped from al-Khnezir region.”

IS united us

Kaoud denounced the accusations that Sunnis of Anbar provided a suitable environment for terrorism. “Terrorism and IS have no religion or sect or affiliation, they accuse everyone of not believing,” he said, adding, “The emergence of IS in Iraq had a major positive effect since it united the Iraqis against it and against the external agenda set to stir strife in the country.”

We support the participation of the popular crowd

The sheikh of Albu Nimr tribe said he supports the participation of the Shiite majority taking up the fight against IS. He indicated, “If there is a risk in Basra [a port with a Shiite majority], we would be bound to take part in defending our land, since Iraq is for all of us. We called on the government to provide us with weapons since there is a vendetta between us and a group composed of 500 IS members. We know these members and we want to return their deceit.”

There are around 3,000 fighters from Albu Nimr tribe waiting for weapons in Barwanah (a town in Anbar province) to fight IS. Other tribes are taking part in the war on IS in addition to Albu Nimr. The largest one is the Albu Issa tribe fighting in Amiriyat Fallujah (near Fallujah) with ground and air support from the Iraqi army and the international coalition.

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