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Last updated: January 2021

This profile refers to individuals perceived to oppose ISIL, such as local politicians and tribal leaders.

See also the profile above concerning 2.8 Members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), Peshmerga and local police.

COI summary

[Targeting 2019, 2.3.3, 2.3.4; Security 2019, 1.4,, 2.3.1, 2.3.4, 2.4, 2.5]

In 2018, ISIL’s focus increasingly shifted towards targeting local authorities. Targeting village chiefs was part of a strategy to depopulate strategic areas by driving out pro-government tribal leaders.

Local authorities, tribal elders, village chiefs and others were abducted and killed by ISIL in 2018. It is estimated that in the first ten months of 2018, ISIL killed 148 village mukhtars and tribal leaders, district council members and security forces leaders. ISIL targeted local mukhtars, particularly in Ninewa, accusing them of providing information on their movements. Between 1 January and 18 August 2018, seven mukhtars were killed and two others were wounded by ISIL in Ninewa governorate.

In the context of the May 2018 elections, ISIL targeted parliamentary candidates, as well as tribal leaders who supported the elections.

Such direct attacks, including assassinations of mukhtars, civil authorities, tribal mobilisation force members, and civilians who are branded as ‘collaborators’, are usually for intimidation and reprisal purposes. There are also reports of targeting of the relatives of tribal leaders.

Risk analysis

The acts to which individuals under this profile could be exposed are of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. killing and abduction).

Since ISIL’s operational capabilities have diminished significantly, the threat posed by ISIL to individuals under this profile has decreased compared to previous years.

Accordingly, not all individuals under this profile would face the level of risk required to establish a well-founded fear of persecution. The individual assessment of whether there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account risk-impacting circumstances, such as: area of work and origin (areas where ISIL continues to operate), tribal affiliation and the tribe’s standing vis-à-vis ISIL, visibility of the applicant, position within the community, public expression of support for the government or condemnation of ISIL’s actions, personal enmities, etc.

Nexus to a reason for persecution

Available information indicates that the persecution of this profile is highly likely to be for reasons of (imputed) political opinion and/or religion (e.g. when they are accused as takfir by ISIL).