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Life Under Islamic State Rule: Abu Yousef’s Story, who was Held Captive by the Terrorist Group

Abu Yousef is a former resident of a town near Mosul – a region which Islamic State fighters held for nearly two years

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Islamic State
(Representational Image) On the day Abu Yousef, his wife and their four children arrived at the Khazir camp, a sand storm hit, forcing the exhausted refugees to race into tents, Iraqi Kurdistan, Nov. 1, 2016. VOA

– by Heather Murdock

Khazir Camp, Iraqi Kurdistan, November 11, 2016: A week ago, Abu Yousef arrived at this camp during a dust storm, with his wife and four small children in tow. Relaxed and now without the scruffy beard he grew while living under Islamic State rule, he settled into the relative safety of a camp that has gone from empty to overflowing in just two weeks. A former resident of a town near Mosul – a region which IS fighters held for nearly two years – he told VOA his story, translated here from Arabic:

I was a police officer when Mosul fell to Islamic State militants. When they captured my town, Bashiqa, they made us – police and other government workers – go to Mosul to meet with IS officials and promise to be good Muslims.

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I was surprised, I had been a Muslim for all 30 years of my life. But they said, “You worked for the Iraqi government which is against Islam.” They cursed at us and demanded we give them our weapons.

Islamic State
Islamic State militants have left tunnels and buildings in rubble in all the villages and towns they have been pushed out of, near Khazir camp, Iraqi Kurdistan, Nov. 7, 2016. VOA

They told us to say “There is no God but the one God and Mohammad is his Prophet” as we often do as Muslims. We didn’t know why we needed to say it at that moment.

[bctt tweet=”But then the militants hugged us and said, “You just became a Muslim.” ” username=””]

How did I just become Muslim?

Arrested

Two months later IS militants came to my house. They said, “Are you Abu Yousef?” I said, “Yes.” They handcuffed me and forced me into a car. After about a 30-minute drive they put me in a cage about a square meter large and left me there for the night. In the morning they took me to a room and sat me in a chair. Sitting opposite to me was a bearded man wearing all white. They called him Sheik Abu Deema – The Father of Blood.

“Why are you an infidel?” the sheik asked me.

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“I’m not, I’ve been a Muslim my whole life, and lately I even renewed my faith with you all,” I said, and then lied to them. “I was with government police before because I needed a salary. It’s the only reason.”

“No, you are an infidel,” said Sheik Abu Deema, “We will cut off your head.”

For the next seven days I was kept in the cage, blindfolded. They took me outside for whippings and beatings and fed me only once a day, a bowl of soup and bread.

Islamic State
Outside Khazir camp, thousands of people wait in line to register in Iraqi Kurdistan, Nov. 5, 2016. More than 45,000 peoplea are said to have been displaced since the Mosul offensive began more than three weeks ago. VOA

‘Don’t lose this bullet’

At the end of the week, a soldier put a bullet in my pocket, and said, “Don’t lose this bullet. Tomorrow, we will kill you with it.”

The next day someone else approached my cage and demanded the bullet back. “No, take this bullet instead,” he said. “Tomorrow we will kill you with it.” This went on for three days, every day a new bullet. On the fourth day they said “This, yes this, is the day we will kill you.” I believed them.

They brought me back to Sheik Abu Deema and forced me on my knees. They blindfolded me and I heard the sheik bark, “Kill him.” I felt the gun on my head and heard them pull the trigger. But there was no bullet.

Islamic State
An Islamic State document certifies its holder (name blurred out) has pledged to be a true Muslim, according to IS standards. The document is not a pledge to join or work with the group. Khazir camp, Iraqi Kurdistan, Nov. 8, 2016. VOA

The sheik gave the order again. “Kill him,” he said. The barrel touched my head, and the soldier pulled the trigger. Again there was no bullet. He did this three times.

Then they removed my blindfold, helped me up and said, “Sorry, you are not an infidel. You are our brother.”

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They gave me 10,000 Iraqi dinars (about $9) and I left. But the psychological punishment stayed with me. (VOA)

Next Story

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Defames The United States as “Head of Global Terrorism”

Minutes after the announcement from the White House on the designation Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated the IRGC “organizes and executes terror campaigns around the world.”

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Iran
In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a ceremony marking "National Day of Nuclear Technology," in Tehran, Iran, April 9, 2019. VOA

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani denounced the United States Tuesday as the actual “head of global terrorism,” one day after the U.S. designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization.

The move was the first time the U.S. designated part of another government as a terrorist organization.

“This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft,” President Donald Trump declared in a statement. “The IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign.”

The U.S. action, which takes effect next week and includes the IRGC’s elite secretive Quds Force, means it will be a federal crime to provide any type of support to the IRGC.

Rouhani said the U.S. designation would only bolster the reputation of the Revolutionary Guards and promote harmony among Iranians.

“This mistake will unite Iranians and the Guards will grow more popular in Iran and in the region,” Rouhani said. “America has used terrorists as a tool in the region while the Guards have fought against them from Iraq to Syria.”

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed a group of guards Tuesday, describing the U.S. action as a “vicious move” that “will bear no fruit.”

In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks at a meeting with a group of Revolutionary Guards and their families, in Tehran, Iran, April 9, 2019.
In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks at a meeting with a group of Revolutionary Guards and their families, in Tehran, Iran, April 9, 2019. VOA

After Iran’s legislature convened for an open session in Tehran Tuesday, lawmakers dressed in paramilitary uniforms chanted, “Death to America.”

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani criticized the U.S. decision as the “climax of stupidity and ignorance.” Supreme National Security Council spokesman Keivan Khosravi warned without elaborating that “any unusual move by American forces in the region will be perceived as the behavior by a terrorist group.”

China, an economic partner of Iran, urged countries outside the Middle East to promote peace and stability in the region and to avoid any acts of aggression.

“We oppose power politics and bullying by any countries,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.

U.S.
The move was the first time the U.S. designated part of another government as a terrorist organization. Pixabay

Minutes after the announcement from the White House on the designation Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated the IRGC “organizes and executes terror campaigns around the world.”

U.S. officials, in comments to reporters, are also referring to the IRGC as a “death cult” that, they say, is the true face of Iranian foreign policy.

Also Read: The Key Elements To Look For in Mueller’s Report

Pompeo declined to say, when asked by a reporter, whether the terrorist designation means that the U.S. military will target IRGC leaders the same way it does those of the Islamic State group.

Iran responded Monday to the U.S. action by putting U.S. military forces on its list of terror groups. (VOA)