These are CNN photos to accompany a Ben Wedeman write on a woman called Wahida Mohamed, a self-described housewife who leads a unit that fights ISIS. She says she has beheaded ISIS fighters, cooked their heads and burned their bodies. Shirqat, Iraq. Sept. 27, 2016.
Ben Wedeman/CNN
These are CNN photos to accompany a Ben Wedeman write on a woman called Wahida Mohamed, a self-described housewife who leads a unit that fights ISIS. She says she has beheaded ISIS fighters, cooked their heads and burned their bodies. Shirqat, Iraq. Sept. 27, 2016.
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One of his posts included a photograph of Prince George, along with the address of his school, a black silhouette of a jihad fighter and the message ìeven the royal family will not be left aloneî.
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A man from Lancashire who encouraged Islamic extremists to wage jihad in the West, including targeting Prince George and injecting poison in to supermarket ice-cream, has been convicted today (31 May). Husnain Rashid, 32, posted messages online glorifying successful terrorist atrocities committed by others while encouraging and inciting his readers to plan and commit attacks. One of his posts included a photograph of Prince George, along with the address of his school, a black silhouette of a jihad fighter and the message ìeven the royal family will not be left aloneî. His common theme was that attacks could be carried out by one individual acting alone. Rashid suggested perpetrators had the option of using poisons, vehicles, weapons, bombs, chemicals or knives. Rashid uploaded terrorist material to an online library he created with the goal of helping others plan an attack. He also planned to travel to Turkey and Syria with the intention of fighting in Daesh-controlled territories. He contacted individuals he believed to be in Daesh territory, seeking advice on how to reach Syria and how to obtain the required authorisation necessary to join a fighting group. Rashid provided one individual who had travelled to Syria and was known online as ìRepunzelî, with information about methods of shooting down aircraft and jamming missile systems. All the offences relate to Rashidís activities online between October 2016 and his arrest in November 2017. Rashidís trial started on 23 May at Woolwich Crown Court but he changed his plea to guilty on four counts on 31 May. He will be sentenced on 28 June. Sue Hemming from the CPS said: ìHusnain Rashid is an extremist who not only sought to encourage others to commit attacks on targets in the West but was planning to travel aboard so he could fight himself. ìHe tried to argue that he had not done anything illegal but with the overwhelming weight of evidence against him he changed his plea to guilty. ìThe judge will now deci
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(FILES) This image grab taken from a propaganda video released on July 5, 2014 by al-Furqan Media allegedly shows the leader of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aka Caliph Ibrahim, adressing Muslim worshippers at a mosque in the militant-held northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The Russian army on June 16, 2017 said it hit Islamic State leaders in an airstrike in Syria last month and was seeking to verify whether IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed. In a statement, the army said Sukhoi warplanes carried out a 10-minute night-time strike on May 28 at a location near Raqa, where IS leaders had gathered to plan a pullout by militants from the group's stronghold. / AFP PHOTO / AL-FURQAN MEDIA / --/AFP/Getty Images
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ISIS leader seemingly breaks silence

Story highlights

Wahida Mohamed has been fighting ISIS, and before that al Qaeda, for years

The self-described housewife says she's beheaded ISIS fighters and cooked their heads

Shirqat, Iraq CNN —  

“Shut up and stay still,” the woman in black fatigues and a black headscarf snapped over her shoulder at the armed men behind her as she sat down for an interview.

Immediately they went quiet, each adjusting his weapon and standing up straight as if he’d been called to attention.

This is a woman who commands respect, I thought. She keeps a Beretta 9-millimeter pistol in a holster under her left arm. The area around the trigger was silver where the paint had worn off.

The woman in question, 39-year-old Wahida Mohamed – better known as Um Hanadi – leads a force of around 70 men in the area of Shirqat, a town 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Mosul, Iraq.

She and her men, part of a tribal militia, recently helped government forces drive ISIS out of the town.

In the man’s world that is rural Iraq, female fighters are a rarity.

Facebook

’More wanted than the Prime Minister’

Um Hanadi is not new to this.

“I began fighting the terrorists in 2004, working with Iraqi security forces and the coalition,” she says. As a result, she attracted the wrath of what eventually became al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which later morphed into ISIS.

“I received threats from the top leadership of ISIS, including from Abu Bakr (al-Baghdadi) himself,” she says, referring to ISIS’s self-declared caliph.

“But I refused.”

“I’m at the top of their most wanted list,” she brags, “even more than the Prime Minister.”

Um Hanadi ticks off the times they planted car bombs outside her home. “2006, 2009, 2010, three car bombs in 2013 and in 2014.”

Wahida Mohamed seen here in Shirqat, Iraq on Sept. 27, 2016.
Alessandro Gentile/CNN
Wahida Mohamed seen here in Shirqat, Iraq on Sept. 27, 2016.

Along the way, her first husband was killed in action. She remarried, but ISIS killed her second husband earlier this year. ISIS also killed her father and three brothers. They also killed, she added, her sheep, her dogs and her birds.

She narrowly escaped death as well.

“Six times they tried to assassinate me,” she says. “I have shrapnel in my head and legs, and my ribs were broken.”

She pulled back her headscarf to show her scars.

“But all that didn’t stop me from fighting,” she said.

Um Hanadi claims to have led her men in multiple battles against ISIS. General Jamaa Anad, the commander of ground forces in her native Salahuddin province, told me they had provided her group with vehicles and weapons.

General Anad, a short, compact, no-nonsense man of few words, simply says: “She lost her brothers and husbands as martyrs.”

A picture from Wahida Mohamed's Facebook page.
Facebook
A picture from Wahida Mohamed's Facebook page.

’Check out my Facebook page’

After listing all the attacks against her, and all the loved ones lost to ISIS, Um Hanadi said: “I fought them. I beheaded them. I cooked their heads, I burned their bodies.”

She made no excuses, nor attempted to rationalize this. It was delivered as a boast, not a confession.

“This is all documented,” she said. “You can see it on my Facebook page.”

A picture from Wahida Mohamed's Facebook page.
Facebook
A picture from Wahida Mohamed's Facebook page.

So we checked. Among many pictures of her with her dead husbands, fighters and generals, there was a photo of her in the same black combat fatigues and headscarf holding what appeared to be a freshly severed head. Another showed two severed heads in a cooking pot. In a third photograph, she is standing among partially-burned corpses. It’s impossible to verify whether the photos are authentic or Photoshopped, but we got the point.

A picture from Wahida Mohamed's Facebook page.
Facebook
A picture from Wahida Mohamed's Facebook page.

Um Hanadi describes herself as a “rabat manzal” – a housewife. She denied media reports she was a hairdresser, although a photo on her Facebook page shows her without a headscarf, in what appears to be a hair salon. She has two daughters, aged 22 and 20. They are trained and ready to fight, she says, but are busy at the moment taking care of their children.

When we finished the interview, Um Hanadi’s entourage prepared to board their pickup trucks. I walked up to one of the trucks, where three men sat in the front seat. One pulled out a hand grenade.

“This is for Daesh,” he said, using the derogatory term for ISIS.

A man shows a machete to CNN's Ben Wedeman.
Ben Wedeman/CNN
A man shows a machete to CNN's Ben Wedeman.

“And so is this – to cut off their heads,” said the driver, pulling a long machete off the dashboard and brandishing it uncomfortably close to my face.