Islamic State massacre survivor who faked death speaks about harrowing escape

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
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FILE - This file image posted on a militant website on Saturday, June 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leading away captured Iraqi soldiers dressed in plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. Human Rights Watch released a report Friday, June 27, 2014 that based on analysis of the photos and satellite imagery, the militants killed between 160 to 190 men in two locations in Tikrit between June 11 and June 14.(AP Photo via militant website, File)

The survivor of a recent massacre by Islamic militants in northern Iraq has given a graphic, harrowing account of his escape from captivity.

In a video interview with the New York Times, Ali Hussein Kadhim, a 23-year-old Iraqi soldier and Shiite, says he was captured by Islamic State with hundreds of other soldiers in June and held captive in Saddam Hussein's former palace in Tikrit.

Sunni soldiers were allowed to repent, but Kadhim and the other Shiites were "marked for death" and lined up before a firing squad.

“I just pretended to be shot,” he said.

After realizing the bullet passed by his head, Kadhim fell forward into a ditch, where he stayed still for four hours. He eventually made it to a riverbank, where he ate insects and plants for three days alongside a badly injured soldier, who never made it out alive.

“It was three days of hell,” Kadhim said.

He spent the next three weeks in an "underground railroad-style journey through insurgent badlands, relying on sympathetic Sunnis to deliver him to safety," the paper said.

Islamic State claims it killed 1,700 Shiite soldiers during the massacre, which would likely make it the deadliest sectarian killing spree in Iraq's history. Kadhim identified himself in a video of the rampage released by the militant group.

The interview and video report below contains graphic images of part of the Islamic State massacre. Viewer discretion is advised.