ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Sulaimani police said on Friday that they had arrested a man who was recently seen in a video degrading, threatening, and pistol-whipping a baker. Though the exact location of the filming has yet to be confirmed, the video has caused outrage among social media users.
“Aras Othman, who is the leader of a gang, was arrested on Sep. 13 after he was injured in an armed exchange with our security forces,” director of the media and communication office of Sulaimani Police, Captain Sarkawt Ahmed, told Kurdistan 24.
After being posted on social media, the video quickly went viral on websites used by Kurdish users, many expressing shock and anger at the behavior of Othman, who at first is seen speaking with the baker, seeming to know him.
Shortly after, furious, Othman pulls out a pistol, raises it, and smacks the baker once in the face and again over the head until he is bleeding. He cocks the pistol and then Othman's accomplice, who is off-camera and appears to be the one filming the incident, asks him to stop.
But, the gang leader who has allegedly carried out armed robberies, auto thefts, and extorted multiple people, goes on to force the baker to apologize and then insults his family. Othman continues to hurl degrading insults at the baker and seems to threaten to kill him, “if you do not do what I asked you in a week.”
The video ends with Othman telling the baker, "Now, go back inside before I put a bullet in your head."
Groups of gangs are known to extort varying sums of money from local businessmen in Sulaimani by using violence and the threat of further violence to merchants or their families. Those victimized have complained that such gangs can only operate with the protection of influential parties, tribes, or officials.
Capt. Sarkawt went on to say that there had been multiple arrest warrants against Othman and claimed that the man was unaffiliated to any political entity.
After the police announcement, a local media outlet interviewed Othman in jail and said he refused to express any regrets for his actions and claimed he did nothing wrong.
Editing by John J. Catherine