The story of a man in Iraq has gone viral after news emerged that he reportedly hugged a suicide bomber to prevent him from doing any damage to others when he detonated his suicide belt.
Najih Shaker Al-Baldawi has been hailed a hero with many calling for him to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom following his heroic sacrificial actions.
The terrorist, who was apparently a member of the so called Islamic State, detonated his belt when Najih wrapped himself around him, killing the pair of them instantly but harming nobody else, reports Al Masdar News.
The incident occurred as the terrorist was travelling to the Sayyed Mohammad Shrine in Balad, Iraq, where he was planning to assist in the ISIS attacks against the place of worship.
— Mohammed Al-Hilli (@malhilli) July 8, 2016
But Najih noticed his suicide belt and, without even thinking, approached the man and hugged him to shield others from the effect of the blast.
In total, the attacks on the Shia, Sayyed Mohammad Shrine, resulted in the deaths of 40 people while 74 others were injured as the self-professed Islamic State launched the attack using mortar fire and suicide bombers.
However the extremist group struggled to get into the shrine itself due to a defensive attack by security guards and Iraqi forces, who killed one ISIS member and gave the others no choice but to detonate their suicide belts early.
Jan Kubis, the UN’s top Iraq envoy, said in a statement:
It is clear the cowardly attack on the shrine aims to spark sectarian tensions and drag Iraq back to the dark days of sectarian conflict.
Hopefully in the future the Middle East will be safe enough so that there isn’t a need for heroes like Najih Shaker Al-Baldawi to sacrifice themselves to save others.
Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.