Few Americans are paying much attention to the growing epidemic of feral hogs in this country. Their numbers are increasing dramatically, and the pigs pose a legitimate danger to property. They also pose a threat to humans, as thee Islamic State fighters in Kirkuk, Iraq found out on Sunday.
The three fighters aren’t fighting any more. They were killed by feral hogs. Few details are known at this point. It is unclear if the three died as a result of direct contact with the pigs, though that isn’t uncommon.
Feral swine are deadly. The larger domesticated breeds of pigs have interbred with their wild cousins. The result is a large tusked beast that may or may not have a natural fear of humans.
For the Jihadists, though, there is another layer of irony. The Islamic faith has a long standing prohibition on pork. The practice stems back more than three thousand years, and is seen in many of the ancient religions:
“He has made unlawful for you that which dies of itself the blood and the flesh of the swine and that on which the name of any other than God has been invoked. But he who is driven by necessity, being neither disobedient nor exceeding the limit, then surely, God is Most Forgiving, Merciful.” Quran, Al-Baqara 2:173
While the death of the three Islamic State fighters may not have appeared merciful, the local news outlets in Iraq are reporting that the surviving fighters were anything but merciful to the offending pigs. They are rumored to have sought revenge and hunted down the herd en mass.
Roving bands of hogs in the Middle East are not altogether common, at least not when compared to the plague of swine in Texas or many other parts of the American South. Yet Kirkuk is a desolate place. Many of the locals have been relocated to refugee camps. The farms in the area are not well tended, and that has made food scarce.
The most prosperous and well fed in the area are the Islamic State fighters. The swine, seeking food, may become an even bigger problem for the insurgents in the future.