Wednesday November 20, 2019
Home World Life is no di...

Life is no different for Refugees who fled Islamic State Terrorist Group, Trail of Ghastly Trauma Continues

Across this camp of more than 30,000 displaced people, families had stories of ruined relationships and lives, property destroyed and ghastly trauma

0
//
At this camp about 50 kilometers away from the nearest fighting, families say they fled Islamic State militants sometimes several times, and when they arrive at camps like this, there is a long wait for shelter in Iraqi Kurdistan, Oct. 20, 2016. VOA

Without prompting, 10-year-old Maha rattled off her story as if she had told it several times before: Her father is in jail now, she said, after he was attacked by Islamic State fighters and later accused of joining them.

“He was beaten so bad he couldn’t walk,” she said to anyone who would listen.

Across this camp of more than 30,000 displaced people, families had stories of ruined relationships and lives, property destroyed and ghastly trauma.

NewsGram brings to you current foreign news from all over the world.

On Thursday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said forces are moving faster than expected toward Mosul, where Islamic State (IS) militants have been in control of the country’s second-largest city for more than two years.

Already short of food, clean water and medical care, camps surrounding the Islamic State controlled areas are bracing for a wave of people that could turn this humanitarian crisis into a humanitarian disaster, in Iraqi Kurdistan, Oct. 20, 2016. VOA
Already short of food, clean water and medical care, camps surrounding the Islamic State controlled areas are bracing for a wave of people that could turn this humanitarian crisis into a humanitarian disaster, in Iraqi Kurdistan, Oct. 20, 2016. VOA

Despite fears that a million more people may soon flee the city, cracking an already strained aid system, displaced families here said, for them, the final battle cannot come soon enough.

“We hear from the people we know still in Mosul, that they just want Islamic State militants to be gone at any cost,” said Umar, a former autoworker who went back into IS territory when the militant group demanded that residents working out of town return or their families would be killed. He gathered his children and fled.

“They are ready for the militants to get out, at any cost,” he repeated, about ridding Mosul of IS.

NewsGram brings to you top news around the world today.

Layla, a mother of three, has been living at the camp for three months. Her two daughters, ages 15 and 16, are being held by IS after they were kidnapped, and her son, accused of being an IS member, is in prison.

“When Mosul is free, I will go on camera and tell everything,” she said.

Without any natural shelter, the sweltering summer will soon turn into a cold winter and aid workers say they don’t have enough housing for the expected influx into the region of approximately one million people, in Iraqi Kurdistan, Oct. 20, 2016. VOA
Without any natural shelter, the sweltering summer will soon turn into a cold winter and aid workers say they don’t have enough housing for the expected influx into the region of approximately one million people, in Iraqi Kurdistan, Oct. 20, 2016. VOA

Unprepared

The Debaga camps, about 50 kilometers from the nearest battleground, are filled to capacity, said Rzgar Abed, a senior manager with the Barzani Charity Foundation at the camps.

The displaced keep coming, Abed said, and the camps are not prepared to handle a large influx of traumatized, desperate people. Many wait days, or even a week, just to get a tent or a mattress after they arrive, he added.

However, delaying the rush of people by leaving IS in place would be worse than the looming crisis, he said.

Check out NewsGram for latest international news updates.

“As long as the operations drag on, there will be more displaced families,” Abed said. “Winter is soon coming, and it will be a big problem. We can’t provide homes for all of them.”

His organization and others are scrambling to get funding for emergency camps, he added.

“The Mosul campaign, in a worst-case scenario, is expected to be the largest and most complex humanitarian operation in the world in 2016 due to mass forced displacement of people fleeing military operations,” the International Organization for Migration said on its website Thursday.

Over the next 45 days, the organization is planning on overseeing the building of 7,500 plots to house displaced families. Initially, these structures will only offer the most basic services, such as shelter, water and sanitation, the organization said.

Children here readily describe horrors, like loved ones being kidnapped or beaten by IS and later being arrested and imprisoned in suspicion of supporting the group by the militants’ enemies in Iraqi Kurdistan, Oct. 20, 2016. VOA
Children here readily describe horrors, like loved ones being kidnapped or beaten by IS and later being arrested and imprisoned in suspicion of supporting the group by the militants’ enemies in Iraqi Kurdistan, Oct. 20, 2016. VOA

But with no where left to run, residents of the camp insist the only way out of the disaster is not more aid, but for IS militants to be defeated.

Outside an old schoolhouse, now packed with newly arrived women and children, 27-year-old Ibrahim explained that for families like his, there will never be a resolution.

His 19-year-old brother joined the IS militants for reasons he didn’t understand and later threatened to kill his family. Their father was livid, shouting at his son for even considered joining the group.

“If he is killed in the battle, I will cry,” Ibrahim said. “But he went willingly.” (VOA)

Next Story

Facebook Asked to Take Down Auto-Generated Al-Qaida Pages

Facebook likes to say that its automated systems remove the vast majority of prohibited content glorifying the Islamic State group and al-Qaida before it's reported

0
facebook, Al-qaida, terror, islamic state, pages
Monika Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook, joined at right by Nick Pickles, public policy director for Twitter, testifies before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Sept. 18, 2019. VOA

In the face of criticism that Facebook is not doing enough to combat extremist messaging, the company likes to say that its automated systems remove the vast majority of prohibited content glorifying the Islamic State group and al-Qaida before it’s reported.

But a whistleblower’s complaint shows that Facebook itself has inadvertently provided the two extremist groups with a networking and recruitment tool by producing dozens of pages in their names.

The social networking company appears to have made little progress on the issue in the four months since The Associated Press detailed how pages that Facebook auto-generates for businesses are aiding Middle East extremists and white supremacists in the United States.

On Wednesday, U.S. senators on the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will be questioning representatives from social media companies, including Monika Bickert, who heads Facebooks efforts to stem extremist messaging.

The new details come from an update of a complaint to the Securities and Exchange Commission that the National Whistleblower Center plans to file this week. The filing obtained by the AP identifies almost 200 auto-generated pages, some for businesses, others for schools or other categories, that directly reference the Islamic State group and dozens more representing al-Qaida and other known groups. One page listed as a “political ideology” is titled “I love Islamic state.” It features an IS logo inside the outlines of Facebook’s famous thumbs-up icon.

facebook, Al-qaida, terror, islamic state, pages
Facebook auto-generating Al-Qaida, terror group, pages. Pixabay

In response to a request for comment, a Facebook spokesperson told the AP: “Our priority is detecting and removing content posted by people that violates our policy against dangerous individuals and organizations to stay ahead of bad actors. Auto-generated pages are not like normal Facebook pages as people can’t comment or post on them and we remove any that violate our policies. While we cannot catch every one, we remain vigilant in this effort.”

Facebook has a number of functions that auto-generate pages from content posted by users. The updated complaint scrutinizes one function that is meant to help business networking. It scrapes employment information from users’ pages to create pages for businesses. In this case, it may be helping the extremist groups because it allows users to like the pages, potentially providing a list of sympathizers for recruiters.

The new filing also found that users’ pages promoting extremist groups remain easy to find with simple searches using their names. They uncovered one page for “Mohammed Atta” with an iconic photo of one of the al-Qaida adherents, who was a hijacker in the Sept. 11 attacks. The page lists the user’s work as “Al Qaidah” and education as “University Master Bin Laden” and “School Terrorist Afghanistan.”

Facebook has been working to limit the spread of extremist material on its service, so far with mixed success. In March, it expanded its definition of prohibited content to include U.S. white nationalist and white separatist material as well as that from international extremist groups. It says it has banned 200 white supremacist organizations and 26 million pieces of content related to global extremist groups like IS and al-Qaida.

facebook, Al-qaida, terror, islamic state, pages
An Islamic State flag is captured in this photo illustration. VOA

It also expanded its definition of terrorism to include not just acts of violence attended to achieve a political or ideological aim, but also attempts at violence, especially when aimed at civilians with the intent to coerce and intimidate. It’s unclear, though, how well enforcement works if the company is still having trouble ridding its platform of well-known extremist organizations’ supporters.

But as the report shows, plenty of material gets through the cracks and gets auto-generated.

The AP story in May highlighted the auto-generation problem, but the new content identified in the report suggests that Facebook has not solved it.

ALSO READ: U.S. Media Industry Going Through A Bad Phase

The report also says that researchers found that many of the pages referenced in the AP report were removed more than six weeks later on June 25, the day before Bickert was questioned for another congressional hearing.

The issue was flagged in the initial SEC complaint filed by the center’s executive director, John Kostyack, that alleges the social media company has exaggerated its success combatting extremist messaging.

“Facebook would like us to believe that its magical algorithms are somehow scrubbing its website of extremist content,” Kostyack said. “Yet those very same algorithms are auto-generating pages with titles like `I Love Islamic State,’ which are ideal for terrorists to use for networking and recruiting.” (VOA)