Islam is just death. Death all around, wanton, and without remorse.
From Liz Sly, at WaPo, "‘It was a children’s soccer game. Of course he knew he was going to kill children...’":
The suicide bomber who blew up a youth soccer match late last month left barely a dent in the hard, dry earth, and only a faint scorch on a concrete wall nearby.More at that top link.
But he gouged a chasm of grief in the heart of the small community that lost more than two dozen of its sons in a single moment, at 6:15 on the evening of March 25.
A total of 43 people died in the bombing at the game, according to figures provided by the local government. Of those, 29 were boys younger than 17 who had either been participating in the match or watching their friends play.
The bomber also was a teenager, no more than 15 or 16 years old, judging by the picture of him released by the Islamic State, which asserted responsibility for the bombing, and the accounts of those who saw him at the match. The militants’ statement said the target was a gathering of members of the Shiite paramilitary group known as Hashd al-Shaabi, and the local government said two members of a militia were among the adults who died.
Yet that hardly explains the horror of an attack that inevitably would kill children.
The bomber “was a child, and he came to kill children,” said Mohammed al-Juhaishi, one of the sheiks from the area, who lost five relatives in the blast. “It was a children’s soccer game. Of course he knew he was going to kill children.”
For the boys of the impoverished, mixed Sunni-Shiite village of Asriya, 40 miles south of Baghdad in the area the U.S. military called the Triangle of Death, soccer is not a pastime. It is a passion and a purpose, offering the dream of escape from the grim monotony of life in one of Iraq’s more neglected communities.
One such boy was Mohaned Khazaal, age 10, who lived for the sake of Real Madrid, his favorite team, and his idol, the team’s star forward, Cristiano Ronaldo, said his brother, Ahmed, who is 12. Mohaned hoped one day to play for Iraq, and perhaps even
Real Madrid, said Ahmed, who dreamed of playing for Barcelona and often got into fights with his brother over which of the rival teams was better.
They also both played for a local team, which did not qualify for the final of the youth league tournament. But they attended the match nonetheless, along with an older brother, Farouq, 20, and almost all of the other boys living in the soccer-crazed community.
The final took place between a team called Ahli and a team called Salam, which means peace. The venue was a dusty field in the middle of the village, unmarked except for the goal post at either end. Local officials watched from plastic chairs on a small podium erected at one edge of the field. The spectators, most of them boys, stood around the perimeter of the field.
Hardly anyone seemed to notice that one of the boys watching the game was wearing a thick jacket on a warm spring evening while all the other boys were dressed in T-shirts. Anmar al-Janabi, 12, who was standing near the oddly dressed boy, said he did notice, although he did not think to say anything to the adults at the match.
“He was a little tall with long hair, and he looked different. He was wearing a thick jacket, and it was hot,” Anmar recalled. “He spoke to us. He said, ‘It’s a good game, isn’t it?’ ”
When the match ended, the boy in the jacket joined the scramble of boys converging at the podium to watch the awarding of the trophy and the medals, said Anmar, who attended the match with his 13-year-old brother, Bilal, and a group of friends.
“Then he blew himself up, and I felt a fire hit my face,” Anmar said. “And then I ran away.”
This is one of the most deeply disturbing stories I have ever reported. I knew it was bad but I had no idea how bad. https://t.co/Jgg59jq9Yy— Liz Sly (@LizSly) April 8, 2016
Just stepping onto the soccer field & seeing this memorial to the boys who died was overwhelming. pic.twitter.com/2Vg7f43UDv— Liz Sly (@LizSly) April 8, 2016
This was the trophy that was to be given to the winning team when the bomb went off. The team was called Peace pic.twitter.com/rP5u1tKqAt— Liz Sly (@LizSly) April 8, 2016
Karrar Idani,13, who died in the soccer bomb. His Dad arrived too late to give him the goalie gloves above the photo pic.twitter.com/mCoZwlAHfx— Liz Sly (@LizSly) April 8, 2016
And this is Mohaned Khazaal, 10, the youngest victim of the soccer bomb. He dreamed of playing for @realmadrid pic.twitter.com/Hu5BipE4Py— Liz Sly (@LizSly) April 8, 2016
This is Ahmed,12. His brother Mohaned died beside him. He's nicknamed @Neymarjr because he looks like his Barca hero pic.twitter.com/U3RlyetT9g— Liz Sly (@LizSly) April 8, 2016
This photo of Walid,16, is on the wall of his parents' home. He failed exams because he was always playing soccer pic.twitter.com/sKiqLnEBvz— Liz Sly (@LizSly) April 8, 2016
This is Abdullah Najah Nouri. I don't know his age. We didn't have time to meet all 29 families of the dead boys pic.twitter.com/y3tQCgQg0Z— Liz Sly (@LizSly) April 8, 2016
This is Ahmed Khudair al-Shujairi, another of the 29 boys who died in the soccer game suicide bomb in Asriya pic.twitter.com/T9GYWAV9P8— Liz Sly (@LizSly) April 8, 2016
Crushing story by @LizSly on the soccer game in Iraq where 43 people died in a suicide bombing, including 29 teens https://t.co/NlXdlkJl3S— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) April 8, 2016