This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

ISIL Enslavement

"I told her: 'They can't understand Kurdish, so listen carefully. If you can find a way to get out of that house, I'll try to find someone to bring you back."
"Once a family had to pay $6,000 for 30-day-old baby."
"For IS women and girls are nothing more than goods and our only option is to trade them like you would trade goods and products over the border."
"I told him: 'OK, give me some time and I'll send the money to you. But don't touch my niece'." 
"Sometimes they call and tell us to come and pick up some Yazidis. But when we send someone into IS territory, they are captured and killed." 
Abdullah, Iraqi Kurdish businessman

"There are still too many people being held by IS and we haven't got enough money to pay smugglers to bring all of them back."
Noori Osman Abdulrahman, Kurdistan Regional Government co-ordinator for Yazidi affairs

"I waved down a taxi. The driver asked me where I was going. At first he said he was scared, because if he was seen with me, IS would kill both of us."
"But in the end he agreed to take me to another part of town, where there were good people who could help me."
"When I get upset, I get panic attacks and can't breathe. I get flashbacks about what happened to me and all the other girls." 
Marwa, 22, Iraqi Kurd, former ISIL captive
Marwa, a released Yazidi woman
Marwa was held at a house in Islamic State's headquarters of Raqqa in Syria : BBC News
Abdullah is an Iraqi businessman. At one time, his business involved buying agricultural products from Syria. He is now heavily involved in another kind of trade; paying ransom to enable him to have Islamic State captives released back to their families.He focuses on attempting to free some of the thousands of Yazidi women and children from their Islamic State captors. For ISIL, everything has a price. And tribal people representing ethnic minorities targeted by Islamic State are anxious to be reunited with their families.

Abdullah has dedicated his time to helping to fund their release. There is the instance of 35-year-old Khatoon, with her four children aged between four and ten who were captured by Islamic State terrorists after their village in Iraq's Sinjar region was taken by storm in August of 2014. Khatoon, her children and the other women and children were taken to the Syrian city of Raqqa, purported capital of the caliphate declared by ISIL. "It was horrible," she says. "They didn't give us enough food or water, or let us wash. Sometimes they beat us."

When Islamic State terrorists attacked and captured Yazidi villages, the men and older boys were mostly rounded up and killed. The women were viewed as valuable prizes. They would become slaves to be sold to the highest bidder, particularly young women and teen-age girls; even pre-teen girls. Their value lay largely in the premise that as captured non-Muslim slaves, ISIL men could have sex with them since passages in the Koran gave that legitimacy as pleasing to Allah, and reflective of what the Prophet Mohammad had counselled.

Abdullah's niece Marwa was captured along with 55 of her relatives, a year ago in Sinjar, a Yazidi-majority-populated area in Iraq. She managed to contact her uncle by telephone to inform him that she was living in captivity in Raqqa, Syria. Soon afterward, Marwa stole a key to the house in which she was being held and made her escape. A taxi driver was persuaded to take her to a different area of the town where kind people gave her a place to stay.

From there she attempted, as instructed by her uncle, to call him but by then her ISIL captor had discovered where she was staying and threatened the family who had given her shelter. They were to return her or be prepared to hand over to him $7,500, her purchase price. At the same time, he made contact with her uncle who agreed to raise the money to free his niece. And they were reunited, but Marwa can't be happy, since she is the only one of the 55 of her family members taken by ISIL who managed to escape.

Since the mass abductions, in the space of a year, a network of contacts and smugglers has been established across Syria, Turkey and Iraq, and with their help Abdullah has been able to free over 300 mainly Yazidi women and children from their ISIL captivity. The cost ranges between $6,000 and $35,000 to buy back people held by Islamic State. The price is highest for young girls, valued as sex slaves, although even babies are tagged with a high price.

Khatoon and her children were freed once her father-in-law, Mardan, paid the required $35,000 to achieve their freedom. "I sold everything I had. I had to go door-to-door borrowing money. Now I have to pay it all back, but I'm penniless and 17 members of my family are still being held by IS" he explained in a BBC interview. When Mardan managed to raise another $35,000 for the release of his other daughter-in-law and her two children, the Kurdish smuggler acting as trusted go-between was killed and the $17,500 he had with him was lost.

Now Mardan is being warned that if he has any aspirations to see his daughter-in-law and her children again, it will cost him an additional ten thousand dollars. For Abdullah, confirmation that ISIL contacts are genuine and negotiations will lead to the release of those who have been held by them, is a complex and difficult procedure. Moreover, four of the 23 smugglers Abdullah relies upon to help him free the captives, have been killed by Islamic State terrorists.

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