On the evening of 13 January, unidentified gunmen abducted and subsequently killed the Mazraha Village Mukhtar, east of Fallujah City. Security forces later discovered the beheaded body in the Nuaymiya area. According to an unverified source, the mukhtar was a member of the Jumayalah tribe and identified as Faisal Hussien Muslim. IS swiftly claimed responsibility, citing IS fighters kidnapped the Mazraha Village Mukhtar and subsequently killed him in the Nuaymiya area. Further verification from named security sources remained absent, as officials are often reluctant to comment on such security setbacks.
IS authored attacks targeting mukhtars and other local stakeholders is an established element of an overarching murder and intimidation campaign, designed to increase IS freedom of movement and degrade the relationship between residents and local security units. Arguably, attacks of this nature are becoming an increasingly common reporting thread in Anbar Province, with two attacks reported in late 2018. As illustrated by the attacks reported in late 2018, favored target areas were rural population centers vulnerable to IS staging grounds in proximate desert areas. However, the 13 January attack occurred in an area close to Fallujah City, illustrating a notable shift from previous targeting trends and the enduring flexibility of IS attack planning.