Iraq Insurgents Reportedly Praise Lionel Messi, Invite Him to Do Jihad

Lionel Messi, the Argentine soccer superstar, reportedly got online accolades for his World Cup heroism this weekend from the Islamic militants rapidly taking over Iraq—along with an invitation to "join the jihadist call," according to news reports.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, an umbrella group for Sunni jihadists who have gained control of much of the Iraqi state in recent weeks, supposedly congratulated Messi on Twitter and Facebook accounts for his late heroics in the Argentina-Iran match last Saturday, where he scored the game's only goal in injury time to defeat the Shi'ite Islamic Republic.

There's plenty of reason, however, to greet the report with skepticism. Reported in English last night by the Brookings Institution, it's based on a Farsi report by Mehr News, an Iranian government-controlled media agency that backs the pro-Shi'ite Iraqi government in Baghdad against the Sunni Islamists.

The Messi story also cuts against the grain of an earlier report by Mehr that ISIS militants were beating World Cup soccer fans in Iraq because the jihadis "[consider] watching football matches as levity which is a sin."

But who knows? The name Lionel supposedly comes from the French for "young lion." And the Arabic for lion is "Osama." So, you know, insert Sharia conspiracy theory here.

[Image via AP]