There will forever exist a surplus of great mysteries that confound the limitations of the human mind. How a man with his own gravitational pull could elude Iraq security forces for so long counts as one.

ISIS mufti Abu Abdul Bari, who also went by Shifa al-Nima, was taken into custody this week following a raid by the Nineveh Police Command’s SWAT regiment. But this was no routine arrest. To transport the suspect, police required a pickup truck with a bed and tow capacity that could miraculously accommodate his impressive girth.

In related news, the upcoming series premiere of TLC’s “My 600-lb Caliphate” has been canceled.

A religious leader in the ISIS ranks, Bari is responsible for issuing numerous fatwas — Islamic religious orders — to carry out the executions of clerics and scholars who refused to join the caliphate, Iraq’s Security Media Cell reported.

He was also at the helm of the terror group’s 2014 push to eradicate the country’s cultural history, which included the destruction of a mosque that was constructed where the biblical prophet Jonah is believed to be buried.

Jonah, as the story goes, survived for three days inside the belly of a whale that was no bigger than Bari.

The arrest of the man who never once turned down Cold Stone’s “Gotta Have It” size sent ripples of elation through the anti-terrorism community.

“I’m delighted to say that the Islamic States very own Jabba the [Hutt] has been captured in Mosul,” human rights activist and anti-ISIS campaigner Macer Gifford tweeted. “[He’s] responsible for the execution of men, women and children. This animal raped and murdered. Good luck hanging him Iraq.”

Maajid Nawaz, the head of a British counter-extremist organization, was especially jubilant.

“It is good that Syrians, Iraqis and others witness the debasement of this scum,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “That he is this obese, this immobile & this humiliated is yet another blow to ISIS imbeciles who thought God was with them. ... 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.

“And that he issued rulings to fighters to both kill & be killed en mass, while justifying every manner of atrocity in the name of Islam, this hippo quite obviously had little intention of exerting his body beyond bowel movements. ... Today was a good day for the Force & a bad day for evil.”

A good day for security, perhaps, but a bad day for Iraq’s delivery food service industry.

As the war-torn country deservedly celebrates a noteworthy arrest, it is ultimately the truck we should be thanking.

Ford commercials inundate viewers, as Denis Leary screams, with unrealistic imagery of trucks meandering through desert or post-apocalyptic hellscapes with a tow load the size of Delaware. Yet nothing Ford — or any other American company, for that matter — has produced can compare with the real-life accomplishment of the Iraqi little engine that could.


Observation Post is the Military Times one-stop shop for all things off-duty. Stories may reflect author observations.

Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.

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