ISIS massacred up to 1,700 Iraqi soldiers in June, in the city of Tikrit. Only one man is known to have survived the slaughter, a former Iraqi soldier named Ali Hussein Kadhim. Now, he tells his unbelievable story in a New York Times video, which you can see, above.
Be warned, however. Kadhim's story, inspirational for his astonishing will to live, is also absolutely horrifying and the video contains upsetting images of graphic violence, depicting the psychopathic savagery exhibited by ISIS, which has since renamed itself The Islamic State.
While ISIS boasts of slaughtering 1,700 Shiite Iraqis in the Tikrit massacre, Human Rights Watch has so far confirmed somewhere between 560 and 770 killed by the Islamic State fanatics.
Kadhim, a 23-year-old father of two small children, was like many Iraqis, flat broke and desperate for a job when he took the only source of employment he could get — joining the Iraqi military.
He signed up on June 1 and was sent to a base in Tikrit right away. But in a matter if a few days, ISIS has overtaken the city of Mosul, about 150 miles from Tikrit and both officers and soldiers fled the base, certain they were next on the ISIS hit list.
ISIS fighters found them almost right away. At first the ISIS militants put on a show of benevolence, promising to take the soldiers to Baghdad. But when the men climbed into the ISIS trucks, they were taken not to the capital, but to Tikrit where they were dumped on the grounds of a palatial estate once owned by deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Over the next few days, the ISIS fighters combed the grounds gunning down hundreds of their captives in cold blood.
Kadhim tells the Times that he survived the massacre after a shot meant for his head somehow missed. But in a mind-boggling example of quick thinking, he collapsed head first into a ditch, along with three fellow Shiite soldiers who were shot along with him.
He played dead — but that's not as easy as it seems. An ISIS footsoldier noticed that Khadim was, in fact, breathing. And in another bizarre but lucky twist of fate, Kadhim survived only because of the ISIS fighter's sadism.
"Just let him suffer," said the terrorist, not realizing that his intended cruelty was actually saving his victim's life. "He's an infidel Shia. Let him suffer. Let him bleed."
Kadhim lay as still as he could for four hours until most of the ISIS killers were gone. Then he crawled to a nearby riverbank where he and another survivor somehow managed to stay alive for "three days of hell," eating nothing but weeds and insects.
ISIS guards stood on a bridge nearby, so for much of those three days, Kadhim was submerged in water, to hide.
But the other man was shot and could not move. Kadhim was forced to leave him there as he spent the next three weeks dodging the marauding ISIS terrorists and living off the kindness of strangers who sheltered him.
Finally, Kadhim found his family and today helps his uncle cultivate a date orchard.
Watch the extraordinary New York Times video mini-documentary for the full story of how one man survived an ISIS massacre.