they in the first of a five-part sequence of accounts exploring what life was like for girls dwelling under the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS) in Syria and Iraq, two ladies who labored as torturers for ISIL’s spiritual police share their tales.
Aisha a women story – Raqqa, Syria: ‘That was our job, torturing individuals’
My identify is Aisha. In ISIL, they known as me Um Qaqaa. I lived in Raqqa.
I went to ISIL to clarify my state of affairs to them. My husband was a martyr. I had no extra money. I had no selection however to work for them.
I began the paperwork to hitch however they mentioned first I wanted coaching in Sharia regulation. Throughout the coaching, they taught us to recite the Quran. There have been about 30 or 40 ladies. The mosque was filled with trainees. And also you needed to recite it repeatedly till you handed the examination. It took me three months to cross.
A few of the ladies had been illiterate. They didn’t know the right way to learn or write. They flogged them to make them study. A few of them by no means succeeded in order that they saved them in jail.
Sooner or later, two males from ISIL got here to my home and mentioned: “Tomorrow you begin working.”
Once we signed up, they gave us weapons. My unit consisted of 10 ladies. Three had been assigned to the van, and the different seven had been at the station in the torture room. They selected tall, large, imposing ladies to scare individuals. They selected the cruellest ladies. Women who had no mercy for anybody.
If a lady walked down the avenue unaccompanied, she was arrested. She needed to be accompanied by her brother or husband. If a lady walked alone or took a taxi with out them, she was arrested.
We had been speculated to patrol the neighbourhoods, the markets, to search for ladies whose garments didn’t conform to ISIL’s legal guidelines.
All of this was so ISIL might promote their very own garments. They arrested ladies and compelled them to purchase a set for six,000 or 7,000 Syrian kilos [$12 to $14]. Solely then would they allow them to go.
Even little ladies needed to put on Sharia-compliant clothes.
Once we signed up, they gave us weapons. My unit consisted of 10 ladies … They selected tall, large, imposing ladies to scare individuals. They selected the cruellest ladies. Women who had no mercy for anybody.
We had been supposed to return to the police station with the bus full of girls. Typically we had 30, 40 ladies, typically 10 or 20. It trusted the variety of violations. However we by no means got here again empty.
As soon as they arrived at the station, the ladies had been flogged. They had been saved in jail for a couple of days. Then they made the ladies purchase regulation clothes from them earlier than releasing them.
Sooner or later, we arrested a lady who was sporting nail polish. They used a pair of pliers to tug out her nails.
My worst reminiscence was once we arrested a lady who was not sporting a niqab. It turned out she was a mute. She couldn’t speak. She was tortured. I felt particularly unhealthy for her. They found she was mute whereas they had been torturing her.
Some ladies had been in the early phases of being pregnant. The torture brought on them to miscarry. A lady gave start in the places of work of the spiritual police. She was on the option to the hospital along with her mom as a result of she thought her child was coming. She had not coated her eyes, in order that they arrested her. She gave start at the station whereas they had been torturing her. Lots of ladies had miscarriages there. They’d no mercy.
That was our job, torturing individuals. We tortured lots of people. I can not even let you know what number of.
We had been under surveillance. There was a colleague whose job was to observe us.
If I did not arrest an individual as a result of I knew her or him, that colleague would instantly report it. There was nothing I might do.
Sooner or later, considered one of the ladies noticed her cousin or neighbour, somebody she knew. She requested us to behave as if nothing had occurred. However the one who was answerable for monitoring us reported her. They punished my colleague and fired her. She was imprisoned, flogged and tortured.
The ladies who had been members of ISIL banned everybody from smoking, however they themselves smoked. In reality, I might purchase their cigarettes for them. They banned alcohol however they drank. It was positive for them, however a sin for everybody else.
The hottest type of torture was flogging.
The head of the spiritual police would come to see the lady and, if he appreciated her, he would supply her marriage. If she agreed, he would signal the marriage ceremony papers and take her residence. If not, she would keep in jail and be tortured.
It was brainwashing. They’d not let individuals go till they satisfied them. There are ladies who joined them in battle. Actual ladies fighters who took up arms and had been on the entrance traces like males. They held on as a result of they had been there with their husbands. They mentioned to themselves: ‘My husband went into battle, so I will struggle alongside him.’
There have been additionally widows of martyred fighters. They took up arms to avenge their males. Different ladies had been satisfied that they might go to heaven.
I finished working when the bombing began in Raqqa. My colleagues continued working however I took my youngsters and left due to the air raids.
I might inform individuals to not make the errors I made. I tortured individuals. Don’t make that mistake.
[Illustration by Jawahir Al-Naimi/Al Jazeera]
Um Farouk a women story – Deir Az Zor, Syria: ‘She bit a lady’s chest and didn’t let go till she died’
I’m Um Farouk, I stay in Deir Az Zor, ‘the Province of Lots’. I’m 45 years outdated. When ISIL arrived, I swore allegiance and labored with them in the spiritual police.
We had been comfortable after they arrived. We hoped that faith would enhance the nation. That all the pieces would return to the approach it was. They handled individuals effectively. So we stayed and labored with them for some time.
Bay’a is the oath you’re taking to swear allegiance. That’s the way you grow to be considered one of them. Mere supporters weren’t thought of a part of the group. They feared they might betray them. Whereas those that swore allegiance grew to become full members.
I used to be known as and needed to go to court docket. Abu Omar was the one answerable for the oaths. I mentioned: “I am with you, brother. I’ll do no matter it takes.” That’s how I swore my allegiance. So simple as that.
We needed to put on a large abaya with a canopy on high. At first, they allowed the eyes to be uncovered. However they modified their minds. You needed to be totally coated and even put on gloves. These had been their guidelines. Anybody who didn’t comply and wore an abaya that was too tight or had one thing sparkly on it broke the guidelines.
Sooner or later, slightly lady about 10 years outdated, was sporting pyjama bottoms and her prayer garments on high. She went right into a retailer to purchase one thing. As quickly as they noticed the little lady, the automobile of the spiritual police stopped. They noticed that she was sporting pants and a sweater and her prayer garments on high. A person bought out of the automobile. He was a Kuwaiti or a Saudi. I recognised his accent. He mentioned: “Why did you exit in these garments, you whore?” The little lady was so scared she peed herself.
For many who had dedicated minor ethical offences, there was the so-called ‘biter’. She would chew ladies. As soon as, she bit a lady’s chest, and she or he didn’t let go, didn’t cease torturing the lady, till the lady died.
They view ladies with contempt. It is sort of a jail. Whether or not she is a civilian or a member, the lady lives in a jail, suffocated. Whether or not at residence or exterior, it’s a jail. Women are oppressed.
There was additionally the story of this lady who had simply given start. Her son had a fever. She went out in a panic to get medication at the pharmacy. A spiritual police automobile drove by, they arrested her. They mentioned, “Why did you exit, you whore?” Utilizing that type of language. “Why did you exit in that outfit?” It was a Lycra abaya. She shouldn’t have worn Lycra. They confirmed no mercy. She mentioned, “I simply had a child”, so the biter would solely use her enamel. The biter would typically use her enamel, different instances electrical pliers.
They view women with contempt. It is sort of a jail. Whether or not women is a civilian or a member, the women lives in a jail, suffocated. Whether or not at residence or exterior, it’s a jail. Women are oppressed. It’s unimaginable to breathe. Even at residence, she must be cautious what she says. In the spiritual police too, we knew nothing about one another. I used to be not allowed to know something about my colleagues, they usually had been to not know something about me. Everybody labored in secrecy.
I noticed unusual issues after I labored with them there. As soon as I used to be advised that there was a midwife coming. I went with them to get her. She was supposed to assist their wives give start. She helped give start a couple of instances. Then I found she was not coming to ship their wives’ infants. She was coming for the feminine prisoners of struggle; they may very well be the spouse of a member of the Free Syrian Military or his daughter or the spouse of an “infidel”. Males got here to rape them. They had been getting pregnant, and so the midwife had come to manage abortions.
After I came upon about this, I swear it drove me loopy. I didn’t know something about that. These individuals haven’t any humanity or faith.
I’m not simply drained mentally. They tore our hearts out. We had been compelled into it. God alone will choose.
I advised them that my husband had coronary heart illness and that he had gone to Iraq for surgical procedure, to run away from them.
I handle all free ladies who worry God: Don’t be a part of this organisation. They’re unjust and merciless. They don’t worry God. They don’t have anything to do with Islam. They’re criminals.
These accounts had been gathered for the documentary ‘Women of ISIL’ by filmmaker Thomas Dandois. They have been edited for readability and brevity.