UNITED NATIONS—Iraq’s U.N. ambassador warned Tuesday that Islamic State militants might be trafficking human organs to help fund their campaign of terror.
In a briefing to the U.N. Security Council, Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim said Islamic State was carrying out the most serious of crimes against Iraqi people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds.
“These are, in fact, crimes of genocide committed against humanity that must be held accountable before international justice,” he said.
Many of the crimes of the Islamic State have been well-documented, often by the group itself. But in a shocking new allegation, Alhakim said he had reports that IS militants were dealing in human organs.
The Iraqi ambassador told reporters that the government discovered evidence of the possible organ trafficking in recent weeks in shallow mass graves containing 10 to 20 bodies each.
“When we discover mass graves, we look at the bodies,” he said. “Some of those bodies are killed by bullets, some of them by knives. But when you find pieces of the back is [sic] missing and the kidneys is [sic] missing, you will wonder what it is.”
He said IS has access to airports in Mosul and in the Syrian city of Aleppo, from which it could transport the illicit organs to international middlemen and buyers.
The envoy also alleged that in recent weeks Islamic State militants had executed at least a dozen doctors in Mosul because they refused to remove organs from victims.
The U.N.’s top envoy to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, said his office had seen the reports about the organ trafficking but could not confirm them without further investigation.
Such reports are difficult to confirm, especially with a third of Iraq’s territory in the hands of the militants.
Similar claims were raised five years ago related to possible organ trafficking during the Balkan war in the late 1990s. Allegations were made that the Kosovo Liberation Army ran detention centers along Albania’s border with Kosovo, where captives, including Serbs, were killed and their organs were sold on the black market. Those allegations have never been proved.