Najih Shaker Al-Baldawi reportedly saw a suicide-bomb strapped terrorist preparing to enter a shrine in the town of Balad and made a split-second decision that would sacrifice his life to save dozens of others.
The Iraqi man reportedly took quick action on Thursday night, running up to the bomb-carrying terrorist and hugging the man to prevent him from entering the busy shrine, Al Masdar News reported. The bomb-strapped exploded as Al-Baldawi held the terrorist, killing them both.
The story of Najih Shaker Al-Baldawi went viral worldwide over the weekend, with coverage in the U.K.’s Metro and a post about his sacrifice that became the most popular submission on Reddit. His picture and story were also shared across social media and he earned praise for the split-second sacrifice.
The sacrifice made by Najih Shaker Al-Baldawi is reminiscent of another story of bravery in the face of terrorism. In December, a Kenyan Muslim man shielded a group of Christians during an attack from the terrorist group al-Shabab. The terrorists had stormed a bus and demanded that the Christians identify themselves to be killed, but Salah Farah refused to help identify them and later shielded the Christians from the attack, CBN News reported.
As the report noted, Farah was defiant in the face of certain death and in doing so became a national hero.
“Farah reportedly told the gunmen to kill all 62 bus passengers or flee. The gunmen panicked but did not leave before gravely wounding him. He died Monday after being airlifted to a Nairobi hospital to treat gunshot wounds to his arm and hip.
“The Kenyan government saluted Farah, a teacher, as a true hero and beacon of hope.
“Al-Shabab jihadists purposefully single out Christians as prime targets in their terror attacks. By not allowing the terrorists to target Christians on the passenger bus, Farah has become a symbol of unity.”
The terrorist attack that claimed the life of Najih Shaker Al-Baldawi was part of a series of attackers in the town close to 50 miles away from Baghdad. ISIS suicide bombers reportedly dressed like local militia and stormed one of the largest Shia shrines in Iraq.
The Guardian reported that ISIS gunman helped a series of suicide bombers fight their way to the Sayyid Muhammad bin Ali al-Hadi mausoleum in Balad, but security forces engaged them to prevent them from actually entering.
The ISIS militants ended up detonating the bombs at the main gate in an attack that left 40 people dead. More could have been killed had the bombers been able to enter the sacred space, local authorities noted.
The attacks game just a week after a massive bombing Baghdad left close to 300 people dead, the deadliest attack since the war that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.
It comes as ISIS has been slowly losing its grip in Iraq as coalition forces push back the terrorist group. Local leaders said the recent attacks in Balad are an attempt by ISIS to stir up violence among sectarian groups.
“They aim to restart sectarian violence,” noted tribal leader Sheikh Abu Salam Saede (via the Guardian). “And this is because of the Saudi ambassador and it shall be war to the judgment day if they don’t remove him. This is 100 percent because of their defeat in Fallujah.”
“It is clear the cowardly attack on the shrine aims to spark sectarian tensions and drag Iraq back to the dark days of sectarian conflict,” added Jan Kubis, the UN’s top Iraq envoy.
Local leaders said the sacrifice made by Najih Shaker Al-Baldawi to stop the suicide bomber likely saved countless more lives inside the shrine.
[Image via Twitter]