A TV show has sparked outrage in Iraq after featuring fake ISIS fighters who ‘kidnap’ celebrities, strap fake suicide vests to them and tell them they will be executed.
In the prank show Tanneb Rislan, terrified celebrities are taken to visit Iraqi families who they believe have been displaced after fleeing from extremists.
But once there, the duped participants are ambushed by fake jihadists and told they will be killed – until ‘troops’ come to the rescue and bring their ordeal to an end.
In one example, an Iraqi actress passed out with fear after being fitted with a fake suicide vest and was only brought round when the presenter poured water on her face. In another episode, a footballer was blind-folded and filmed begging for his life.
What looks like a close shave is, in fact, a candid camera-style television show airing during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that takes tricking celebrities for laughs to a new level. And it’s causing a scandal in Iraq, along with accusations of bad taste.
A TV show in Iraq has sparked outcry over fake ISIS fighters ‘kidnapping’ celebrities and telling them they will be executed. In one episode, an actress in her 50s named as Nessma, is blindfolded and fitted with a fake suicide vest
The actress is led by two men after having a fake suicide vest strapped to her
A camera follows a celebrity visiting an Iraqi family displaced by conflict, when they’re ambushed by jihadists
The actress Nessma (pictured) passed out when she thought she was wearing a suicide vest
International footballer Alaa Mhawi (pictured on the floor) pleads with his apparent captors as they point a gun in his face
The footballer begged for his life as he believed he was about to be executed by terrorists in the TV show
Mhawi, a professional footballer and father-of-one, has been capped 44 times by Iraq and plays in the Iraqi Super League and believed he had signed up for a charity show
In each episode, a celebrity, invited for a charitable project, visits the home of a family said to have escaped the clutches of the ISIS.
Once inside, actors disguised as jihadists pounce. The jihadists may be fake, but the pleas of the trapped celebrities are very real.
In one show featuring Nessma, an actress in her fifties, she enters the home of a family she believes has been forced to flee from conflict before a fake explosion goes off, forcing everyone to run inside screaming.
While she panics with a group of actors in on the prank, gunshots are heard and one of the supposed producers on the show picks up a gun in view of Nessma.
Car loads of gun-wielding and ISIS flag waving jihadists then arrive and surround the home as gunshots appear to ricochet off the walls.
They eventually storm the home and tie up Nessma and blindfold her while she cries and screams for help and starts to pray.
Nessma fainted after being blindfolded, tied up and strapped to a suicide vest after being ambushed by the terrorists
She had to be awoken by water being splashed on to her face but the prank continued despite her fears
She passed out again outside after she believed she was walking through gunfire and explosions
The actress screamed as she woke up and the prank was revealed and the actors and crew started to applaud
The terrorists attach a suicide vest to her, prompting her to pass out on the floor with fear.
She stays unconscious for several minutes until the presenter, in Hashed uniform, empties a bottle of water on her face before dragging her outside to continue the horrifying prank.
Still blindfolded, she believes she is walking through gunfire while her suicide vest is about to explode.
At the last second, her vest and blindfold is removed and she faints once again, needing water thrown at her face to rouse her as the cast and crew gathered around her applaud her and reveal the prank.
When the Iraq international footballer Alaa Mhawi appeared on the show, he found himself on his knees, blindfolded, begging for his life.
‘I’m your brother, I’m Iraqi and I represent the whole nation,’ he shouts, on the verge of tears.
But once the ruse is revealed, the celebrities can’t complain too much.
The series is underwritten by the powerful state-sponsored Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary coalition.
The terrified actress, pictured with a fake suicide vest, is left so terrified by the ordeal that she passes out
What looks like a close shave is, in fact, a candid camera-style television show airing during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that takes tricking celebrities for laughs to a new level
The scene is the same every time: a celebrity, invited for a charitable project, visits the home of a family said to have escaped the clutches of the Islamic State (IS) group. Once inside, actors disguised as jihadists pounce.
Its fighters were central to a grinding military campaign that by mid-2017 had dislodged IS from the string of cities it seized three years earlier.
And these paramilitaries, still armed, have their own role in the show, saving the day.
At the end of the episode featuring Mhawi, the international footballer also had to suffer a professional putdown.
‘You fly the Iraqi flag on the football pitch, but the Hashed, the army and police, they do it by sacrificing martyrs,’ the presenter said.
The series is underwritten by the powerful state-sponsored Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary coalition
‘This isn’t entertainment,’ Bilal al-Mosuli, a resident of Mosul, the self-proclaimed ‘capital’ of IS in Iraq from 2014 to 2017, wrote on Twitter
‘This isn’t entertainment,’ Bilal al-Mosuli, a resident of Mosul, the self-proclaimed ‘capital’ of IS in Iraq from 2014 to 2017, wrote on Twitter.
Another Iraqi, Ahmed Abderradi, expressed disbelief at the show on Facebook.
‘Next year, we’ll have Saddam’, he joked bitterly, referring to the dictator who terrorised Iraqis from 1979 to 2003, Saddam Hussein.
‘Or we can throw guests into a river like the victims of Speicher,’ he wrote, referring to the 2014 Camp Speicher massacre, when IS executed 1,700 Shiite conscripts and dumped their bodies in the Tigris.
For years, entrapping stars has become a staple of primetime Ramadan shows on Arab satellite channels.
But this is the first time an Iraqi programme has combined the formula with ‘terrorism’, which is still a real threat in Iraq.
The programme also broadcasts mock executions and shootings ‘with blanks’, according to a disclaimer at the start
‘I don’t see what pleasure you could get watching these people being tortured in this way,’ another viewer wrote on social media.
The programme also broadcasts mock executions and shootings ‘with blanks’, according to a disclaimer at the start.
For others, however, the show salutes anti-IS fighters.
‘But it’s possible to show the bravery of the Hashed and Iraqi troops without introducing terrorism,’ tweeted Noor Ghazi, an Iraqi living in the United States.
Jihadist violence is still a fact of life in Iraq.
The home of the so-called displaced family in the show is located in the agricultural belt outside Baghdad where IS sleeper cells still intimidate and extort locals.
According to social media user Hamed al-Daamy, ‘the show is giving free advertising to IS and other terrorist groups’.
A writer of the show, Dargham Abu Rghif, has sprung to its defence.
‘The scenes are harsh but… if IS had won, artists would have had a far harder life, and all Iraqis too,’ he wrote on Facebook.