Syria.. The return of the “ISIS” family collides with the rejection of society
The children of the Islamic State, which invaded Syria and Iraq in 2014 and imposed an extremist and brutal rule for years, are paying the price of their parents’ choices against their will.
Even the children of Marva Ahmed, who lives in a dilapidated house, did not bypass this rule, because this single mother of four says that people look at her suspiciously and refuse to offer her a job, and her children are harassed and beaten. school.
Marwa said in an interview with The Associated Press that she rarely leaves her home in the Syrian city of Raqqa to avoid people’s gaze.
The woman is one of tens of thousands of widows and wives of Islamic State militants who were arrested in the al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria after the US-led coalition and the Syrian Democratic Forces cleared the area in 2019.
Since then, she and a growing number of her family have been allowed to leave, after Kurdish authorities overseeing the camp decided they were no longer affiliated with the armed group and no longer posed a threat to society.
But the difficulty they face trying to reintegrate in Syria and Iraq shows the deep, bitter resentment left over from the atrocities of the Islamic State and the devastation of the long war that toppled the militants, while still fearing dormant Islamic State cells to continue attacks.
Last Monday, ISIS attacked Raqqa, killing six members of the Kurdish-led security forces known as the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces).
The attack followed an escalation of attacks by the US and the Syrian Democratic Forces against the organization’s fighters in eastern Syria.
SDF says 6 fighters killed in ISIS attack.
Near Ahmed’s house, on the wall of one of the dilapidated buildings, he wrote the slogan “Islamic caliphate is coming, God willing.”
That ideology was once believed by Ahmed, who said she and her sister joined ISIS after their brother, another ISIS member, was killed in a 2014 US airstrike.
Ahmed married a member of the group, although she says he was only a nurse, not a fighter. The man is now in custody since 2019.
Marwa says that she now rejects the ideology of ISIS, but society does not believe in her, and claims that this is because she wears a conservative veil that covers most of her face.
Specifically, she said, “Now I have to face people, and many people in this society are affected (by ISIS),” and then continued, “Of course, the organization is not alone responsible for this situation that we live in in Syria, we are affected Free Syrian Army.” And the regime and ISIS, right? But they don’t say that.”
Marwa says the neighborhood bakery sometimes refused to give her bread, and even her father, who disapproved of her joining the extremist group, threatened the shopkeeper who hired her to accuse him of contacting ISIS if he didn’t kick her out.
After ISIS attacked Raqqa, and large parts of northern and eastern Syria and western Iraq in 2014, the organization declared a so-called Islamic caliphate over the region.
“Capital of the Caliphate”
Thousands came from all over the world to join, until Raqqa became the de facto capital of the caliphate.
The US-backed Kurdish authorities have been fighting to defeat the Islamic State for years. Finally, in March 2019, they captured the last piece of territory held by ISIS in Syria.
Syria.. 6 dead in an ISIS attack on a security complex in Raqqa
Six members of the Syrian Democratic Forces, including 3 members of the Internal Security Forces (Asayish), were killed, along with the killing of two ISIS members, in a surprise attack carried out by the latter on Monday on a security headquarters near a military-intelligence prison in the Intifada neighborhood of the western the village of Raqqa, according to a report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
During these events, the Syrian Democratic Forces arrested Marwa’s husband and sent Ahmed and her children to the Al-Hol camp.
Since then, the fate of the women and children in the al-Hol camp has been a mystery to the Kurdish-led authorities. Most of the women are wives and widows of ISIS fighters, while thousands of Syrians and Iraqis have been freed and returned to their homes, in addition to numerous foreigners.
About 50,000 Syrians and Iraqis, half of them children, are still huddled in tents in a walled camp in the arid desert. Several thousand foreigners from dozens of countries also stayed there.
Authorities and Kurdish-led activists blame Islamic State sleeper cells for an increase in violence in the camp, including the beheading of two Egyptian girls, aged 11 and 13, last November.
Commenting on this, Ahmed says that life in al-Hol was similar to life under the Islamic State, “only you are surrounded by a fence”.
Human Rights Watch said in a recent report, citing camp authorities, that ISIS-linked gunmen still control large parts of it.
US Central Command said it conducted 313 strikes against ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq last year, capturing 215 fighters and killing 466 militants in Syria, most of whom are affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Forces.
In addition, Kurdish-led forces announced Thursday that they had launched a new military campaign against the extremist group, dubbed “Operation Thunderbolt,” to target sleeper cells in and near al-Hol in Tel Hamis.
Despite all this, Ahlam Abdullah, another woman released from al-Hol, says life in the camp was better than in her hometown of Raqqa.
– In general, everyone is against us – says this woman, and then adds – We argue wherever we go.
With the support of her clan elders, this mother of five returned to Raqqa in 2020 without her husband, who had been missing for four years.
She says local authorities watched her every move suspiciously and asked for their personal information.
She also said, “We’re afraid, if anyone asks, I’ll just say that my husband died at the Turkish border,” while confiding to The Associated Press that she never told anyone she was in al-Hol.
Local charities and civil society organizations tried to help the children reintegrate into schools and help their mothers improve their skills to find better jobs.
“They remained under the rule of the Islamic State, and many of them are still under their influence,” Helen Mohamed of the civil society organization Women for Peace, which supports women and children, told The Associated Press. They were victims of extremist ideology.
But she believes some women can successfully reintegrate with the right services and support.
Abdullah says she has attended some workshops, but feels that her job prospects have not yet improved.
But she found that she started making money by cleaning carpets and homes and selling pickled or dried seasonal food, known locally as “Mouna”.
ISIS in 2022.. The organization intensifies its attacks during the year of the “loss of the caliph”
The year 2022 is coming to an end, during which we witnessed dozens of operations by international coalition forces against ISIS, while the latter launched many bloody attacks, which resulted in the death and wounding of hundreds.
Meanwhile, Ahmed was rejected from another job, she said she wasn’t given a clear reason, but she believes it was because her husband was with ISIS.
Commenting on the situation, she said: “We have to live with the label of ISIS in this society, no matter how hard we try to be part of it, hug people and be good to them, they still look at us the same way.”