With A Hug, This Brave Man May Have Saved Hundreds From An ISIS Bomber

An near unbelievable act of courage.

Iraqi activists have identified Najih Shaker Al-Baldawi as the man who reportedly helped stop a suicide bombing that killed more than 40 people from being even more deadly.

Last week, ISIS militants stormed through a marketplace in Balad, Iraq and approached the gates of one of Iraq's main Shia shrines before detonating suicide bombs. According to witnesses and locals, Al-Baldawi — a Balad native — stopped a suicide bomber from entering the shrine itself by hugging him tightly just before the bomber detonated. The blast scorched the gates of the shrine but didn't do any damage to the building.

Had the bomber made it inside, the death toll could have climbed into the hundreds.

ISIS' attack on a holy site has some people reminiscing about similar attacks a decade ago that were intended to ignite a Sunni-Shia war. The two groups are notoriously divided across Iraq and the Middle East, with the majority Shia groups suffering at the hands of ISIS attacks and Sunni groups claiming that Shias continue to disenfranchise them, according to The Guardian.

That Al-Baldawi stopped the attack from being larger and more deadly than it was could mean that he helped prevent tensions amongst the two groups from escalating even further. 

In its aftermath, he received praise and remembrance on social media outlets such as Twitter. 

Al-Baldawi's courageous sacrifice is just one reminder out of dozens recently that, contrary to popular belief, Muslims are statistically much more likely to be the victims, not the perpetrators, of terrorist attacks.

They are also, presumably, the civilians most likely to be on the front lines in situations where courage is called for in the face of terror

From Balad to Istanbul, we are lucky to have heroes like Al-Baldawi.