Islamic State fighters in control of an Iraqi town stoned a couple to death after they were convicted in an IS court of committing adultery, a witness said. Instead of treating it like a normal stoning, a punishment that has become a regular occurrence under ISIS, militants took their time with the process in order to ensure maximum torture.
"It is a terrible scene I wish I did not remember," a civil servant who said he was present told NBC News on Thursday.
Eight fighters carried out the execution as a crowd of some 200 residents in Ar Rutbah in western Anbar province stood by powerless to stop the brutal attack.
“They brought the man and the woman, they tied their hands and covered their faces, and started to stone them,” added the witness, whose name has been withheld because he feared for his safety. The claim could not be independently confirmed.
The couple took a longer time than usual to die, as militants used stones "smaller than a baseball” to cause slow and painful death, according to the witness.
“What ISIS did is exactly what had been mentioned in the Quran — to punish married people who commit adultery,” he added. “But look, we are in the 21st century, and those insurgents would like to take us back in time. Who knows, maybe they will issue new laws in future, like it is not allowed to drive a car, and we have to use camels instead.”
The incident happened on Sept. 15, a week before U.S.-led airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The Sunni militants took control of Ar Rutbah on June 22.
“ISIS fighters are supported by some people in my town,” the witness said. “I have to admit that the town is more secure than before when it was under the control of Iraqi security forces, because they pursued sectarian goals.”
This isn’t the first Islamists have executed a couple by stoning. In 2012, a man and woman who had sex outside marriage were buried up to their necks, then pelted with stones until they died in the town of Aguelhok in northern Mali, according to BBC.