"I fought [the ISIS fighters], I beheaded them, I cooked their heads,” Wahida Mohamed told CNN. Better known as Um Hanadi, this 39-year-old, self-proclaimed housewife leads a militia of about 70 men against ISIS.
Female fighters are rare in Iraq, especially in Shirqat, the rural town that Um Hanadi recently helped the government take back from ISIS. According to General Jamaa Anad, the government has provided her militia with the weapons to battle ISIS on numerous occasions. She has clearly proven herself to be a valuable citizen fighter.
Um Hanadi began fighting terrorism in 2004 and taught her daughters to do the same. She quickly became the target of Al Qaeda and later ISIS.
According to Um Hanadi, various terrorist groups have tried to bomb her on seven different occasions and assassinate her on several more.
"Six times they tried to assassinate me. I have shrapnel in my head and legs, and my ribs were broken,” she said, showing CNN the scars to prove it. "But all that didn't stop me from fighting."
Although she has escaped death, her family has not been so lucky. ISIS killed her first husband and then when she remarried, her second husband. They also murdered her father and three brothers.
So Um Hanadi got her revenge and proudly flaunted it on her Facebook page. One picture shows her holding a severed head, while another depicts two heads in a cooking pot. Without any way to verify if the pictures are photoshopped, we just have to take her word for it.
One part of me feels deep respect for a woman who does not let her gender stop her from fighting for what she believes in. Another part of me feels sympathy for the human that knows only war and has lost so much. And, of course, a small part of me feels repulsed by the fighter who has resorted to methods just as grotesque as those used by her enemies.
Whether you look at her actions with admiration or disgust, I encourage you to at least feel a little gratitude for your own situation. I will be the first to admit the US is far from perfect. However, I did not grow up in the midst of a war I never asked for. My mother never had to train me to fight. Terrorists do not target me and my loved ones on a daily basis.
In a time when people are being killed on the streets, we’ve lost faith in our government and justice system, and people are more divided than ever, it is important to remember how lucky we are for what we do have.