It’s widely known at this point that ISIS rapes and enslaves captive women. Stories about it have been making their way into the newspapers for years. Today Reuters has an interview with a captured ISIS soldier who confirms this behavior was encouraged and considered “normal” as ISIS seized territory. What’s disturbing here is not only that this happened but that someone involved considers it so routine he would defend it when speaking to journalists:
Islamic State militant Amar Hussein says he reads the Koran all day in his tiny jail cell to become a better person. He also says he raped more than 200 women from Iraqi minorities, and shows few regrets…
Hussein said his emirs, or local Islamic State commanders, gave him and others a green light to rape as many Yazidi and other women as they wanted.
“Young men need this,” Hussein told Reuters in an interview after a Kurdish counter-terrorism agent removed a black hood from his head. “This is normal.”
Hussein said he moved from house to house in several Iraqi cities raping women from the Yazidi sect and other minorities at a time when Islamic State was grabbing more and more territory from Iraqi security forces.
Hussein’s Kurdish captors say they have evidence he raped women but don’t know the scale of his crimes. Reuters can’t confirm his story given that his victims are scattered across a war zone, but there is little doubt that what Hussein describes could be true. In August 2015 the New York Times reported on ISIS’ “theology of rape” which was being used by the group as a recruiting tool:
A total of 5,270 Yazidis were abducted last year, and at least 3,144 are still being held, according to community leaders. To handle them, the Islamic State has developed a detailed bureaucracy of sex slavery, including sales contracts notarized by the ISIS-run Islamic courts. And the practice has become an established recruiting tool to lure men from deeply conservative Muslim societies, where casual sex is taboo and dating is forbidden.
A growing body of internal policy memos and theological discussions has established guidelines for slavery, including a lengthy how-to manual issued by the Islamic State Research and Fatwa Department just last month. Repeatedly, the ISIS leadership has emphasized a narrow and selective reading of the Quran and other religious rulings to not only justify violence, but also to elevate and celebrate each sexual assault as spiritually beneficial, even virtuous.
“Every time that he came to rape me, he would pray,” said F, a 15-year-old girl who was captured on the shoulder of Mount Sinjar one year ago and was sold to an Iraqi fighter in his 20s.
In addition the hundreds of rapes he says he committed, Hussein claims he killed as many as 500 people, “seven, eight, ten at a time.” He says he and other ISIS soldiers led captives into the desert and shot them. Last August the Associated Press identified at least 72 mass graves, the smallest of which had 3 bodies while the largest may have had thousands.