An oven burns near a family's reed hut in Chibaish, Iraq. The family moved to this area in search of water, but much of the former marshes remain desolate after years of draining and neglect.
- The Long Road Home
Climate Change and Water Woes Drove ISIS Recruiting in Iraq
Battered by shifting resources, desperate farmers were driven into terror recruiters’ clutches. Can it happen again?
Samarra, IraqIt was a few weeks after the rains failed in the winter of 2009 that residents of Shirqat first noticed the strange bearded men.
Circling like vultures among the stalls of the town’s fertilizer market in Iraq’s northern Salahaddin governorate, they’d arrow in on the most shabbily dressed farmers, and tempt them with promises of easy riches. “Join us, and you’ll never have to worry about feeding your family,” Saleh Mohammed Al-Jabouri, a local tribal sheikh, remembers one recruiter saying.
With every flood or bout of extreme heat or cold, the jihadists would reappear, often supplementing their sales pitches with gifts. When a particularly vicious drought struck in 2010, the fifth in seven years, they doled out food baskets. When fierce winds