Tikrit, Iraq — Darkness descends upon the massacre memorial at the water’s edge, where gutted concrete buildings – the remains of a Saddam Hussein palace – are smeared with graffiti that evokes loss and calls for revenge.
The Tigris River flows wide and silent here, as it did on that June day in 2014 when it was stained with the blood and floating corpses of Iraqi Shiites, victims of the single most deadly event in Iraq since the US invasion of 2003.
Even by the high atrocity standards of the so-called Islamic State (IS), the slaughter of some 1,700 people in the Camp Speicher massacre reached a new level. It was designed, filmed, and broadcast both to shock and terrorize Iraqi security forces – which duly disintegrated as IS militants swept across northern Iraq that summer – and to hammer a permanent sectarian wedge between Sunnis and Shiites.
But instead of Tikrit …