BAGHDAD (AP) â The Islamic State group wanted to send a warning against anyone who might plot against its rule.
Back when the extremists took over the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in June, police Col. Mohammed Hassan was among some Sunnis in the security forces who surrendered, handed over their weapons and pledged to cut ties with the police. In return, the militants gave them "repentance badges" granting them some safety. But now, the Islamic State group suspected Hassan was engaging in activities against it.
So last week, IS fighters stormed Hassan's house at night. Hassan and his son fought back, killing three attackers before they were gunned down. The militants then hung his mutilated body from a fence for several days near his home as an example, according to two residents who witnessed the battle and were aware of the events leading up to it. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
The past few weeks, the Islamic State group has been hunting down former policemen and army officers in areas it controls, apparently fearing they might join a potential internal Sunni uprising against its rule.
While world attention has been focused on the battle to fend off the extremists' assault on the town of Kobani across the border in Syria, the group has killed dozens of its opponents this month in Iraq. In several instances, Sunnis have been lined up in public squares and gunned down or beheaded as a warning.
The aim is to prevent the Baghdad government and the U.S.-led alliance from finding Sunni allies against it at a time when Kurdish fighters and Shiite militias backed by U.S.-led airstrikes have made some gains, taking back several towns from the militants.
The campaign of killings adds a new bloody chapter in the Islamic State group's legacy. In its blitz capturing a swath of Iraq and neighboring Syria, it gained a grisly notoriety for butchering its opponents and members of sects it considers heretical.
Human Rights Watch on Thursday said that the extremists carried out a mass killing of around 600 Shiite Muslim inmates being held in Mosul's main prison when the group captured the city in June. The Shiites were separated from several hundred Sunni and Christian inmates who were set free, then the Shiites â along with a number of Kurds and Yazidis â were forced to kneel on the edge of a nearby ravine and were mowed down with automatic weapons, Human Rights Watch said in a report, based on interviews with survivors.
But killings of former police are of a new, different sort â a campaign to eliminate those who the extremists fear could become the nucleus of a revolt against their control.
In new killings, the militants on Wednesday paraded 30 Sunni tribal fighters through the western city of Hit then shot them all to death on a main street, according to a provincial official and other residents. Their bodies were found later that day, followed by another mass grave of 48 tribal fighters discovered on Thursday. The fighters, mostly from the Al Bu Nimr tribe, were captured when the extremists overran Hit earlier in the month.
Mosul, the largest city in the group's self-styled "caliphate," has seen increased killings. Last week, Mosul's governor, Atheel al-Nujaifi, who was driven out of the city in the militant takeover, said pro-government Sunni militias were being formed in the city, made up of mainly of former army and police officers.
Soon after, Islamic State group militants rounded up 20 former police officers from villages south of Mosul. Hours later, their bodies â all with gunshots to the head â were handed over to the morgue, according to morgue officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
In a separate incident, the militants shot to death police Col. Issa Osman after parading him through Mosul's streets. Osman's battalion was the last unit to give up fighting in Mosul during the June takeover, and afterward he also renounced ties to the security forces, receiving a "repentance badge" from the extremists.
Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Saad Maan Ibrahim also said anti-IS militant groups have been formed in Mosul. Whether they are part of armed groups or not, former police and army officers are a potential threat to the militants because they "have the expertise on how to plan an armed uprising and they have good knowledge of weapons and military operation," Maan told AP.
There have been similar slayings elsewhere under the extremists' domain the past week. Three days ago, IS fighters shot to death two former army officers and three policemen in a public square in the northern city of Beiji, residents said. They announced to a crowd that the men had carried out mortar attacks on the militants' positions in the city, according to the residents.
At the same time, about 20 former policemen and army officers were rounded up by IS fighters in the town of Shurqat and taken to an unknown location, with no word since on their fate, said an official in Salahuddin provincial council.
On Wednesday, IS fighters beheaded policeman Bahjat Salman in a public square in Ana, a town west of Bagdad, proclaiming him a "traitor," residents said. The residents of Ana and Beiji and the Salahuddin official spoke to AP on condition of anonymity for their own safety.
So far, there has been little sign of an armed revolt in Mosul or other parts of northern and western Iraq under IS control. But the killings could be a sign the extremists' confidence has been shaken by the air campaign.
The group was able to expand with lightning speed across Sunni-dominated regions of Iraq starting in June, in large part because of the minority community's deep hatred of the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad. Sunnis have long complained the government discriminates against them and marginalizes them. Government forces collapsed as the extremists swept over Mosul, then south toward the capital, capturing towns and cities along the way.
But there has been resentment among some Mosul residents fueled by the group's enforcement of its extremist interpretation of Islamic law, a lack of public services and stagnation in business.
"Most Mosul people want to get rid of this savage organization," said a resident speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. "We are waiting for any effort to save us."
WASHINGTON, Pa. (AP) — Two "Stop the Violence" organizers allegedly beat one of their colleagues so severely that he vomited blood and was left unconscious in critical condition.
Nikole Ardeno and Emanuel Velez, both 30, accused their former roommate of stealing their property, and allegedly punched and kicked him in the street until he had seizures. Arrested moments later, Ardeno was still wearing the same "Stop the Violence" T-shirt she had on the night before when she coordinated a march protesting two recent shootings, Washington Police Chief Chris Luppino said.
The victim, Joshua Magraff, also is a community organizer with the anti-violence group, and shared an apartment with the suspects until recently.
Online court records don't list lawyers for the defendants, who face a preliminary hearing Nov. 10 on charges of aggravated assault, conspiracy, simple assault and disorderly conduct.
Local "Stop the Violence" leader Suzanne Kelley said she hopes to hear from Ardeno, and insisted that "we don't promote violence at all."
"I can't believe this is going on. I don't want the community to get a negative effect from this because they back us," Kelley said.
Police believe Ardeno and Velez attacked Magraff on Tuesday because he had gone to the apartment they had shared to collect his belongings. Ardeno and Velez had come to a police station about 20 minutes earlier, accusing Magraff of burglary, but police said he appeared to be taking only items that belonged to him as he moved out, Luppino said.
Magraff was still unconscious and in critical condition Wednesday at UPMC Mercy hospital in Pittsburgh, Luppino said. A hospital spokeswoman declined to provide an update Thursday, citing a policy against releasing information about crime victims.
STOCKHOLM (AP) — Sweden on Thursday became the biggest Western European country to recognize a Palestinian state, prompting a strong protest from Israel, which swiftly withdrew its ambassador from Stockholm.
The move by Sweden's new left-leaning government reflects growing international impatience with Israel's nearly half-century control of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and its blockade of the Gaza Strip. It also comes during increased tensions between Arabs and Jews over Israel's plans to build 1,000 housing units in east Jerusalem.
Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said Sweden, fulfilling a promise it had made when the Social Democratic-led government took office earlier this month, believes the Palestinians have met the criteria under international law for such recognition.
"There is a territory, a people and government," she told reporters in Stockholm, adding that Sweden was the 135th country in the world to recognize a Palestinian state.
It is the third Western European nation to do so, after Malta and Cyprus. Some Eastern European countries recognized a Palestinian state during the Cold War.
Israel was quick to condemn Sweden's announcement, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman describing it as "a miserable decision that strengthens the extremist elements and Palestinian rejectionism."
"It's a shame that the government of Sweden chose to take a declarative step that only causes harm," he added.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson said Israel's ambassador to Sweden was being recalled for consultations but declined to say how long he would remain in Israel.
Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, welcomed the move by Sweden, a European Union member, as "a principled and courageous decision."
"It is our hope that other EU member states and countries worldwide will follow Sweden's lead and recognize Palestine before the chances for a two-state solution are destroyed indefinitely," Ashrawi said.
Israel says Palestinians can gain independence only through peace negotiations, and that recognition of Palestine at the U.N. or by individual countries undermines the negotiating process. Palestinians say Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu isn't serious about the peace negotiations.
The latest round of U.S.-brokered talks collapsed in April. American officials have hinted that Israel's tough negotiating stance hurt the talks, and Netanyahu has continued to settle Israelis in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
More than 550,000 Israelis now live in the two areas, greatly complicating hopes of partitioning the area under a future peace deal. The two territories and the Gaza Strip are claimed by Palestinians for a future state.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. supports Palestinian statehood but added it can only come through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians that resolve status issues and end their conflict.
"Some countries (are) responding to the lack of a resolution of a peace process out there," she said.
While the U.S. and European powers have so far refrained from recognizing Palestinian independence, they have become increasingly critical of Israeli settlement construction. The 28-nation European Union has urged that negotiations to achieve a two-state solution resume as soon as possible.
In a symbolic move, British lawmakers earlier this month voted in favor of recognizing Palestine as a state.
Some other Western European countries — including Germany, Denmark and Finland — have said they're not planning to follow Sweden's lead.
Associated Press writers Matti Huuhtanen in Helsinki, Karin Laub in Jerusalem and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — If state Sen. Rusty Glover has his way, Sunday will be the last time Alabama residents turn back the clock one hour to standard time.
The Republican legislator from Semmes said people always complain, him included, when the state returns to Central Standard Time because they get home from work and their children get home from school and sports activities in the dark.
"The first week we go back on it, I want to go to bed at 8 o'clock at night," the retired school teacher said.
Glover plans to introduce the bill next legislative session to keep Alabama on daylight savings time year-round once people make the switch in March. Glover doesn't have any opposition in Tuesday's election.
The practice of using daylight savings time in summer months and standard time in winter months has been used since World War I, when it was adopted to save fuel and energy by matching daylight to people's activities. Glover said switching back and forth no longer works for people.
"It doesn't save energy and is a constant source of disruption in business and even school transportation," he said.
A study published by medical researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2012 found that the risk of heart attack increases 10 percent on the Monday and Tuesday after moving the clocks ahead one hour in the spring.
"Sleep deprivation, the body's circadian clock and immune responses all can come into play when considering reasons that changing the time by an hour can be detrimental to someone's health," researcher Martin Young said in the study.
Former Rep. Greg Wren of Montgomery introduced a similar bill in the spring session of the Legislature. He got it approved by a House committee, but it died in the House. Wren resigned from the Legislature in April and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor ethics charge. Since Wren is gone, Glover decided to pick up the legislation for 2015.
If Glover's bill passes, it will put Alabama out of synch with its neighboring states about four months out of the year, but Glover doesn't expect that to last long.
"It may inspire other states to do this," he said.
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police on Thursday shot and killed a Palestinian man suspected of trying to kill a hard-line Jewish activist in Jerusalem, an incident that quickly sparked clashes between masked stone throwers and Israeli riot police, threatening to further enflame the already high tensions in the city.
Jerusalem has seen near-daily clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police, particularly around a contested site in the Old City that is holy to both Jews and Muslims.
Late Wednesday, a gunman on a motorcycle shot and wounded Yehuda Glick outside a conference promoting Jewish access to the site, a hilltop compound known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary.
The gunman approached Glick and spoke to him in "heavy Arabic-accented Hebrew," according to Moshe Feiglin, a lawmaker with the Likud party. The man then opened fire at point-blank range, shot Glick three times and fled the scene.
Glick, an American-born activist and a well-known advocate for greater Jewish access to the site, remained in hospital and in serious condition on Thursday.
In an interview earlier this week with The Associated Press, Glick warned of the growing violence in Jerusalem and said Jews were increasingly being attacked by Muslims.
"The more extreme Islamist organizations are taking over and if we don't stop them early enough, they will take over the entire Jerusalem," he said. "We're calling upon the Israeli government, stop the violence."
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police forces surrounded the suspect's home in east Jerusalem early Thursday. The suspect was holed up in a house in the Arab side of Abu Tor, a mixed neighborhood. He then opened fire and troops responded and killed the man, identified as Moatez Higazi, an Islamic militant recently released from prison.
Shortly after Higazi was shot dead, clashes broke out in Abu Tor, with Palestinians hurling stones at the riot police, who responded with rubber bullets to suppress the demonstration. Residents gathered on rooftops, chanting pro-Palestinian slogans while police set up checkpoints to control access in and out of the neighborhood.
The Jerusalem holy site has been a flashpoint for violence in recent months and has been fraught lately with clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police.
Earlier Thursday, police said it has taken the unusual step of temporary closing access to the site to calm tensions.
Israel maintains that it allows free prayer to all, but Palestinians claim it is unilaterally widening access to accommodate larger numbers of Jewish worshippers. The Palestinians see this as Jewish encroachment on the site, the holiest in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam, while Jewish activists like Glick say they are being discriminated against by limiting their chances to pray atop the mount.
Israel accuses Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of inciting the recent violence. Abbas has recently called for Jews to be banned from the site and urged Palestinians to guard the compound from visiting Jews, whom he called a "herd of cattle."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he has yet to hear a word of condemnation from the world against Abbas' incitement to violence.
"The international community must stop its hypocrisy and act against the inciters," Netanyahu said.
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon also reiterated accusations against Abbas Thursday.
"The assassination attempt of Yehuda Glick is another serious step in the Palestinian incitement against Jews and against the state of Israel," Yaalon said. "When Abu Mazen (Abbas) spreads lies and venom about the rights of Jews to worship in their land the result is terror, as we saw yesterday."
In a statement, Abbas' office did not condemn the shooting of Glick but lashed out at Israel for closing the volatile site. "Jerusalem, including its Islamic and Christian holy places, is a red line and touching it is in unacceptable," the statement said.
Gaza's Hamas rulers praised the attack on Glick.
Clashes have also recently taken place elsewhere in east Jerusalem, the section of the holy city captured by Israel in 1967 and claimed by the Palestinians as their future capital.
The violence erupted in earnest over the summer after three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed by Palestinians in the West Bank. Jewish extremists retaliated by kidnapping and burning to death a Palestinian teenager in east Jerusalem, sparking violent riots. The unrest continued throughout the summer with the 50-day Gaza war that was sparked by heavy Hamas rocket fire toward Israel.