‘Jabba the Jihadi’ arrested in Iraq sparks gut-busting Internet memes for putting ‘fat’ in fatwa

ISIS mufti Abu Abdul Bari was arrested and hauled off in the back of a truck … Social media credit: Ali Y. Al-Baroodi

A corpulent, 560-pound ISIS leader has been arrested in Iraq and his photos on social media have inspired a wave of gut-busting “Jabba the Hutt” memes and mainstream headlines.

A New York Post headline writer set the tone with “Fat-wa: ISIS version of ‘Jabba the Hutt’ captured in Iraq via flatbed truck.”

The arrest of ISIS mufti Abu Abdul Bari, aka Shifa al-Nima, was announced by Iraqi government security forces Thursday. Stars and Stripes reported that according to a police statement, Bari is a preacher known for “provocative speeches against the security forces” and is considered one of the top leaders of “ISIS gangs.”

An ISIS authority on Quranic law, Bari had issued religious rulings, or fatwas, that ordered the execution of scholars and clerics who refused to pledge allegiance to the terrorist group when it occupied Mosul, the police statement said.

Bari also ordered the July 2014 destruction of a mosque built at the site believed to be the burial place of Jonah, the biblical personality who was swallowed by a whale. The mosque was one of many historic and cultural sites ISIS destroyed in Syria and Iraq during the caliphate’s brief reign of terror.

The extremist group has largely been defeated but remains an insurgent threat in the region.

“Gluttony is frowned upon by jihadists. But also, ISIS branded themselves as fighters possessing rare courage & discipline … meanwhile, this walrus was their top religious cleric,” said Maajid Nawaz, founder of counter-extremist organization Quilliam. Nawaz spoke about how the images of the morbidly obese cleric would strike a psychological blow against ISIS, according to Stars and Stripes.

Nawaz also wrote on Facebook, “He was so overweight, maybe from remaining sedentary in his hiding place, that he had to be taken by police in the back of a pick up truck. He was arrested by Iraqi Nineva SWAT police in the Mosul District of Iraq. Most religious justifications provided to ISIS for enslaving, raping, torturing, ethnic cleansing & massacring Iraqis, Syrians & others are from this paltry beast who can’t even stand on his own two legs.”

The trending level of ridicule in social media would be part of the impact being felt by ISIS sympathizers by the arrest of one of their leaders.

The news of Bari’s capture is seen in the area as much more than a curious side note … in fact, it is good news for those seeking justice for terrible crimes that were committed at his command.


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