Abboud and Khajawah: cannibal couple from the Middle East who ate 100 children

By : Nader – Iraq

Perhaps many have not heard about these couple, even in the Middle East, and I think the reason is that the story is very old , happened during World War I, where the chaos and the smell of death were so pervasive that it overwhelmed the news and stories of the killers.

The city of Mosul experienced a devastating famine in 1917. The previous year saw a low rainfall, thus, the agricultural season failed and prices rose, and people suffered severe drought.

The Ottoman Empire was not in a position to help its citizens (Iraq was part of the Ottoman Empire back then), it could barely feed its forces, which were retreating on all fronts during World War I. The situation has worsened more by the flow of hungry people to Mosul From the countryside and nearby towns and villages, they left everything behind in the hope that they would find some food in a big city like Mosul, but they were disappointed, and soon the roads were filled with those poor people who begged for anything to eat and keep them barely alive. And as more hungry people flocked to the city, prices have gone up, the food disappeared from the markets and the corpses scattered in the streets without being lifted by anyone. Crimes, robberies and killings have also increased in the stricken city.

City of Mosul before 100 year

Hunger has reached the point where people would exchange their silver utensils for one loaf of bread, if they find any, and they started to eat weeds and leaves and chase dogs, cats and rats on the roads to catch and eat them. But there was a couple who decided to stop eating the meat of the stray animals that became scarce, and instead, they decided to experience a kind of meat which was abundant but not eaten by one.. Human flesh! ..

The husband was named Abboud, and his wife was Khajawah. They started by eating an old woman who was a neighbor, but they did not like her taste because of the high fat in her flesh, which led them to vomit.

So they decided to eat a child this time in the hope that the meat would taste better, so the wife kidnapped a child from the street and returned to the house where they killed and cooked him, when they ate his meat they found it savory, which made them kidnap more children, and soon they involved their young son in the kidnapping operations where he would bring children home under the pretext of playing with them and then his parents kill and cook them. After they finish eating the victim, they would throw the skull and bones into a hole inside the house

Abboud and Khajawah

The meat became so abundant to the couple to the point where they opened a restaurant and began to sell a meat soup meal known in Mosul as the “kuliya”.

The discovery of the couple’s crimes happened by chance, as one of the restaurant’s customers found a child’s finger in his soup, which made people suspicious of the couple and so they informed the authorities, especially as child abductions were on the rise in the city.

The police raided the couple’s house and found the skulls and bones in the hole, and so the couple finally fell into the grips of justice.

At that time, the Turkish newspaper “Almdar” quoted excerpts from the couple’s confessions:

Governor: How did you do this work?.

The Woman: We have endured unbearable hunger at the time of the siege, we finally agreed to eat kittens, and so it was, we kept catching cats and eat them until our street ran out of them, so after that we began to eat dogs until they ran out too, and dog’s flesh tasted much better than that of the cat’s. After that when there was nothing left to eat, we tried human flesh.

Governor: Who did you start with first?

The Woman: An old woman who we strangled then cooked in a large pot, but we spent all that night vomiting because the flesh was so fatty, and then we slaughtered a small child and found his flesh delicious and very good.

Governor: And how did you catch children?

The Woman: By our son, each day he would bring us a boy under the pretext of playing with him. We would then strangle him and eat him and bury his bones in a deep hole that we dug inside our house.

Governor: How many boys did you eat?.

The Woman: I do not remember exactly but they can be counted by the number of their skulls.

The authorities reportedly found the skulls of a hundred children in the hole. The court sentenced Abboud and his wife to death by hanging.

On the morning of the execution, they put them on two donkeys and brought them to the “Bab Al-Tob” square where two gallows were waiting for them, people were spitting on them and insulting them and beating them along the way. Abboud returned the insults to the people and added insults to the government because he considered it responsible for what happened.

The couple’s photo as they hanged in the “Bab Al-Tob” square

People gathered in the square to witness their execution. It was said that a woman was mauling the feet of the wife until she cut off her toes and was screaming: “They have ate three of my children.”

The story of Abboud and his wife looks very similar to the story of Sweeney Todd of London, the butcher barber who slaughtered his clients with the razor and then snatched their meat and sent it to his partner, Mrs. Lovett, who put it in her delicious and cheap pies that she sold in a restaurant next to Sweeny’s barbershop. But what distinguishes Abboud’s story is that it is more certain and true than the story of Sweeney Todd.

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