Sulayman Khalid (aka Abu Bakr) is an Australian of Iraqi and Italian decent, aged 20, from Regents Park a suburb in Sydney’s western suburbs. He has just been charged with offences related to an immanent terror attack in Australia.
Like many Wahhabi Salafi’s Mr Khalid, prefers to show his religious piety by calling himself Abu Bakr after father-in-law of Islam’s prophet Mohammed. Also like many Australian born Muslim boys he is drawn to the glory promised by militant Wahhabi Salafi extremist groups like Al Qaeda and its offshoots like Al Nusrah and ISIS. The narrative of the Wahhabi Salafi ideologues paints a picture of the global suffering of Sunni Muslims at the hands of the US and its allies (Israel and the West) and its Muslim ‘puppets’ in the Middle East. The narrative ignores the US-NATO intervention in Kosovo against Christian Serbia and also the antipathy the West has with the Assad regime (and the likely indictment of that regime’s leaders for war crimes absent Al Qaeda and ISIS involvement in the civil war) and its Russian supporter. No matter. Truth cannot get in the way of a good terrorist narrative.
Khalid appears to be a thoroughly brainwashed by the militant Wahhabi Salafi ideology and is a self-professed ISIS supporter. He arms himself with illegal weapons and dreams of creating with his Wahhabi brothers a Caliphate to humble the Zionist Crusader alliance. He appears to be prepared to see Australia and his fellow countrymen who are not Wahhabi Salafi’s as his enemy because they are enemies of his God. It is to be sure a political form of radicalism but one with a religious base. One cannot in the Wahhabi Salafi world separate religion (as they interpret Islam) and politics (which can only be legitimate if expressed religiously through Sharia, Allah’s law). In the Wahhabi Salafi mind there is no separation of Church and State. God is sovereign over all. Accordingly all acts in society must be measured by their version of religion. No acts are barbaric if the means justify the ends of making the world submit to God and His rule though His servants who obey His word as revealed by their prophet as interpreted by the strong men of the Sunni (only true) Muslims. All opposition to God’s laws as so revealed and interpreted are untewrmensch and to be eliminated without mercy just as the Nazi’s who gained control of the German State viewed the peoples they conquered and subjugated. Also like Nazi thugs militant Wahhabi Salafi men in the West like the power of their gangs and are prepared to use intimidation and threats and violence to protect their honour or that of their group or religion.
So it was that during an Australian national television show ‘Insight’ about why Aussie Muslims wanted to abandon their land of milk and honey and go and fight in the deserts of Syria and Iraq (aired on the SBS channel on 12 August 2014) he wore an ISIS flag (of the type fellow Wahhabi Salafi, Man Haron Monis called for during his siege in Martin Place Sydney). Khalid stormed off the set with his Muslim lawyer Zali Burrows. Ms Burrows, treated the TV chat show like a court room and stopped the TV presenter asking her client questions when ISIS brutality was raised and advised Khalid to not answer certain questions about whether he supported ISIS brutal inhuman methods (1)
Apparently Channel 7 (the station that appears to have been the original target for Wahhabi Salafi “Brother’ Monis(2) was going to air a television show in which Australian Sunni’s like Khalid was going to be featured but the show was stopped by an injunction brought by Zali Burrows. It would be interesting to know what was going to be shown in that show.
Khalid was also charged for in August this year for threatening and intimidating 43-year-old Christian Iraqi cleaner Petrus Matlub at Bankstown (Sydney) shopping centre as part of an alleged ‘religious hate crime’. Apparently the cleaner challenged Khalid’s wearing an ISIS motif. Given what ISIS has been doing to Christians in Iraq this is not surprising. Rather than react with dialogue Khalid became aggressive and threatening. Khalid’s lawyer Ms Burrows told Daily Mail Australia that Khalid is simply a ‘young kid who is passionate about injustice’. The Bankstown Court back in September granted bail but ordered that he stay away from the shopping centre and not go out at night unaccompanied by a parent. It is unclear whether those charges have ever been heard as the new terrorism charges (and no doubt soon to be added illegal weapons charges) have overtaken this young Australian man whose heart is set on pursuing the ISIS path.(3)
Culturally in some parts of Sydney dominated by Wahhabi Salafi’s it has become common practice to display radical jihadist motifs such as the black flag associated with militant Jihadism since the 1990’s by groups such as Al Qaeda. This prompted the Australian Prime Minister to say on radio in September that the Muslim community should join ‘Team Australia’ and fight extremism as represented by ISIS and their radical ideology as symbolized by their motifs (including not only the ISIS flag but also the white on black Shahada that represents radical militant Islam), propaganda and brutal methods of political and religious violence.(4) Tragically it’s what Australians saw earlier this month when frightened hostages in Martin Place were forced by another Wahhabi Salafi to hold up the black Jihadist flag.
It may be time for Australia to follow what has happened here in Europe recently when Austria enacted new laws banning ISIS glorification. As a result of the Wahhabi terror grooming, funding and propaganda campaigns by the likes of Misrad Omerovic aka ‘Imam Ebu Tejma’(5), the Austrian Parliament on 10 December 2014 passed wide sweeping Anti-Terror laws(6) that included banning ISIS and AL Qaeda flags as terror symbols and takes away Austrian citizenship from Austrian Muslims who go to Syria to join ISIS. These laws mirror similar laws passed in Germany on 5 September 2014 that were based on the 1960 anti-Fascism laws called Abzeichengesetz (Badge Law)– which outlaws Nazi symbols, flags, uniforms and insignia. Other European countries like Denmark are said to be following suit.(7)
As an aside it is interesting to note that Khalid’s new lawyer Zali Burrows also represents 39 year old Hamid Alqudsi a Sunni Muslim man from St Helens Park SW Sydney who is charged with 7 counts of organizing Australian Sunni Muslims to join ISIS and other Wahhabi Salafi terrorist organizations in Syria like Al Qaeda offshoot Al Nusrah and Dawla Islamieh. He is on a disability pension paid for by the Australian government and allegedly has two wives.
Alqudsi was alleged to have had communications with notorious Australian (now deceased) terrorist Mohammad Ali Baryalei.
Alqudsi’s case is being heard in the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney. One of his co-accused is Fatima Elomar (wife of notorious ISIS fighter who proudly posed for photos of him holding up decapitated heads of ISIS victims in Syria and Iraq, Mohamed Elomar).
Mrs Elomar She was stopped at Sydney Airport earlier this year as she was boarding a plane with her four children and allegedly found to have terrorist materials on her.(8)
Some of the Australian fighters the late Ali Baryalei allegedly recruited include, Amin Iman Mohamed, Mehmet Biber, Tyler Casey (from Redcliffe and husband of Gold Coast private school girl Amira Karroum, both of whom are now deceased), Khaled Sharrouf (who took a picture of his 9 year old son holding up the severed head of an ISIS victim), Mohammed Elomar, Yusuf Ali, Amira Karroum and the late Caner Temel. (9)
It is also alleged that he was in regular phone contact with Guildford apprentice Omarjan Azari, 22, and he was allegedly intercepted in one phone call telling Azari to behead a random member of the public in Sydney’s CBD sometime before Christmas this year in an act intended to “shock, horrify and terrify the community”. Azari was arrested during counter-terrorism raids in Sydney in September (2014) and charged with conspiring to commit a terrorist act. The pair met through the Street Dawah movement (pictured here with Ali Baryalei), a volunteer initiative in which Muslims proselytise on the streets of Sydney. Many of the men detained during the September counter-terrorism raids knew each other through the group.” (10)
Hamid Alqudsi is no stranger to controversy. In 2010 Alqudsi as husband of Muslim woman Carnita Matthews (one of his two wives) was seen in a melee outside a court-house in Sydney Australia. Carnita was convicted (and sentenced to 6 months jail) for making a false statement that a NSW police officer was a racist and tried to remove her veil during a random breath test (the Magistrate saying the lady was acting maliciously in making the false allegations). (11)
The group of men acted in a most aggressive and violent manner toward media outside the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney. Notice the cordon of male supporters (who appear to be Wahhabi Salafi) surrounding Carnita Matthews in a militia style and chanting ‘Allahu Akbar” as they scuffled with reporters and police outside the courtroom.(12)
Zali Burrows has received praise even from supporters of (Jabhat Al Nusrah) Al Nusrah Front the Australian extremist political group Hizb ut Tahrir. One of their leadership Ulthman Badar on his Facebook page he and many fellow travellers like Rayan Yaqub Al Bikaadi from Auburn NSW who works for UNSW Global Institute in Kensington and Randwick, Abdur Rehman, Ahmed Annous, Hafiz M Wassem Naeem, several Abu Hamza’s (meaning Muslim ‘lion’) Doureihi, Ibrahim Salih, Razwann Ahmed, Umm Asad, Laelaaha Ellal Laah and Bilal Baydar bemoan the unfairness of the travel bans on Australian Sunni men wishing to fight the Assad regime in Syria (not necessarily joining ISIS to do so but rather groups like Al Nusrah). Presumably they (or the real men behind the Facebook pseudonyms) all wish to do so.
Zali Burrows (also a political aspirant) like many Muslims who oppose the Syrian Regime has challenged the Australian government’s anti-terror laws(13) and especially those that prohibit Sunni men fighting against the Assad regime in Syria. Under the Autonomous Sanctions Act 2011(14) and Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Act 2014(15) and the it’s illegal for any person in Australia or any Australian citizen (including dual citizen), anywhere in the world to provide any kind of material support to any armed group in Syria government or opposition; Syrian or foreign. This includes providing weapons or raising funds to support armed groups active in Syria, offering to fight, or recruiting or training others to do so.
Mr Khalid’s passport was cancelled by the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) in December 2013 because of his likelihood of breaching those Acts. ASIO has had him and 20 other extremists on a watch list.
Following counter terrorism raids around Australian as part of as part of a large Counter Terrorism investigation that has been ongoing since 2013, ‘Operation Appleby’. 11 individuals with a jihadist ideology were charged with terrorism related offences after the September 2014 raids.
‘Operation Appleby’ is the largest counter terrorism probe in Australia. It is investigating the conveyor belt from fanaticism to terrorism. It commenced with ASIO’s surveillance of Alqudsi and revelations that came from them of the ‘terror tourism’ that was happening between Australia and Syria via Turkey. It continued after his arrest as there was a ring of about 17 alleged co-conspirators including 24 year old Marsfield man Milad Bin Ahmad-Shah Al-Ahmadzai(16) and 23 year old Amin Iman Mohammed involved in this terror tourism. “But the group’s recruitment efforts were frustrated by ASIO, which on several occasions cancelled the passports of the person Azari’s group was trying to recruit, preventing them from leaving Australia… Then, early last month, came the game-changer. As Islamic State was conducting its murderous rampage through northwest Iraq, the group received a phone call from Baryalei in which he asked the group to carry out an attack in Australia. Authorities listened in as some of the group discussed packing a vehicle with explosives and detonating it. One of those to visit the group in Sydney was Omar Succarieh, 31, brother of Australia’s first suicide bomber in Syria, Ahmed Succarieh. Succarieh, from Logan, south of Brisbane, was arrested on raids across southeast Queensland (in September this year) authorities monitored a call between Baryalei and Azari in which Baryalei allegedly demanded that Azari go out and kill a random non-Muslim as a demonstration of Islamic State’s intent…. In the intercepted conversation the actual word “behead” was not used but it was allegedly implied by a suggestion that a flag be draped around the victim’s head and that their death be videoed and placed on social media, similar to the recent beheading executions by Islamic State of two US journalists and a British aid worker… They discussed the murder by Islamic extremists of British soldier Lee Rigby on a London street in May last year. It was clear they could not guarantee there would be no repeat of such an attack on the streets of Sydney. There really was no choice; they had to go in immediately. In barely 24 hours, about 870 police officers were mobilised and raids were planned on more than 27 homes in two states with the aim of detaining and questioning 17 men.”(17)
Islamo-Fascism seen as a type of Nazi sickness by European parliaments
Just this month in Austria similar nationwide raids as those that happened in September in Australia netted a huge Wahhabi Salfi terror ring. (18) The Austrian police and national security officers (WEGA) have been conducting mass nationwide raids to weed out Wahhabi extremists who have been funding ISIS and luring hundreds of young Muslims aged between 15 and 30 either as Wahhabi concubines to ISIS fighters or to their death as cannon fodder in Syria and Iraq. There are estimated to be 150 Austrian citizens who have gone to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS fighting or sex brigades. The Austrian anti-terror sweeps were the culmination of a 2 year investigation and involved 900 police and intelligence operatives in which they allegedly monitored phone calls between Misrad and the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The nationwide raids were the biggest in Austria since WWII. Many centres of Wahhabi extremism were uncovered in mosques, so called ‘prayer rooms’, private homes of Wahhabi’s and Islamic Centres in key Austrian cities like Graz, Linz and Vienna.[xv] The raids found proof of recruitment for ISIS, terrorist propaganda, cash and other terrorist paraphernalia. 13 arrests were made.
Khalid was arrested Tuesday 23rd December 2014 on Terrorism charges after a raid on his house on Thursday 18 December. This was only days after the Lindt chocolate shop siege in the centre of Sydney where it is alleged Ali Baryalei had ordered a kidnapping and beheading should take place for ISIS.
In the process of executing the search warrant, the Australian Federal Police seized:
• a rifle,
• a shortened shotgun and
• a double-barrelled shotgun and
• significant documents that police allege were “designed to facilitate a terrorist attack” (on government buildings).
Khalid, appeared in Parramatta Local Court Wednesday 24 December with another (un-named 21 year old man who had allegedly breached a control order) and (given what ‘Brother’ Man Haron Monis (pictured) did whilst he was out on bail), Khalid was unsurprisingly refused bail.(19)
- See December, 11, 2014 http://www.thelocal.at/20141211/austria-passes-anti-terror-law
- See December, 11, 2014 http://www.thelocal.at/20141211/austria-passes-anti-terror-law
- Ironically, the Magistrate could not identify the woman as the same woman who made the complaint because she would not unveil and so the conviction had to be ultimately overturned on a technicality. What should have been a victory dance however turned to ugly violence due to the extreme nature of the groups reactions to reporters.
- Zali Burrows, lawyer for Hamid Alqudsi is trying to challenge the constitutional validity of the legislation but International law expert Ben Saul said there were no obvious avenues to challenge the legislation because it is covered by the “external affairs power”, a robust and broadly applied power to legislate matters involving governments outside Australia or to implement international obligations. http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/alleged-jihadist-recruiter-alqudsi-to-mount-high-court-challenge-against-foreign-incursion-laws-20141014-115pb5.html
- Ahmadzai, who has been under ASIO surveillance for four years, has also been convicted of stealing $100,000 during an ATM ram raid. Senior police sources have expressed concern money stolen from ATM raids has ended up being transferred to Syria to fund terrorism. Born and bred in Sydney, Ahmadzai is associated with Bukhari House, a bookstore and prayer hall in Auburn and is believed to be passing on directives to the group from inside jail. http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/terror-raids-target-family-homes-of-convicted-criminals-20140919-10jhw9.html
Turkey begins the return of ISIS fighters to Europe
Today, Turkey started sending ISIS fighters back to Europe, as it promised last week.
Europe needs to take responsibility for its ISIS fighters. US President Trump is right on that.
As Turkey’s minister of internal affairs said last week, Turkey is not a hotel for foreign terrorists. Europe’s jihadists are its own problem to deal with.
What is interesting however is that Turkey has been releasing ISIS fighters from the region that it held in custody. But not when it comes to European jihadists.
With this move, Turkey’s aim is to actually punish Europe. Erdogan is doing this out of spite because he knows that this is what Europeans fear the most. It is not Erdogan’s priority to try ISIS, as he has shown previously. To piss off the Europeans, yes, that’s a different story.
This recent development comes to remind us that Western Europe has a big problem to deal with. The evidence from conflict zones will not hold in European courts which means that authorities might have to let ISIS fighters that still have their citizenship walk free. That is a European nightmare.
This serves to remind French President Macron that France not Bosnia is the biggest jihadist force in Europe. Macron called Bosnia a jihadist ticking bomb in that unfortunate Economist interview but France is the real problem. No other European country has such a high number of jihadist fighters in the Middle East.
Today a Greek ISIS fighter whose citizenship had been stripped was not allowed in Greece upon return from Turkey. We will see that a lot in the coming weeks. The situation of no citizenship will create a legal question of statelessness which will make the return of ISIS fighters also a human rights question.
The Rise OF ISIS and its Aftermath in Afghanistan
“I will see you guys in Newyork”.Abu Du’a, the leader of ISIS, whose nom de guerre (war name) was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, told his American captors as he was released from a brief detention during Iraq war. After American invasion of Iraq in 2003, Al Baghdadi joined the Arms Resistance against the U.S led coalition troops in Iraq but he was captured and detained in a US. – run Iraqi prison in 2006. Following al Baghdadi’s release in the late 2000s, he joined the predecessor to ISIS: the Islamic State of Iraq(ISI). This group initially affiliated themselves with AL- Qaeda, but was later rejected by AL Qaeda due to their brutal acts and it became Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). IN 2010, al Baghdadi became the leader of ISI and changed the name of the organization to Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2013.
On 29 June 2014, ISIS declared the worldwide caliphate under the leadership of “caliph Ibrahim” with publishing a statement of supporting al Baghdadi’s designation as caliph. This concept of caliphate is mainly based on the universal religion and its ultimate goal is the establishment of Islamic state. This political idea of Islamic state is embodied in the concept of the ummah (community) which says that all the Muslims wherever they reside are bounded by a common faith which transcends all geographical, political or national boundaries.
Many other groups had pledged allegiance to ISIS like the Boko haram in Nigeria, the bait al Maqdis in Egypt, the Islamic movement in Uzbekistan, andthe previous leader of TTP Hafiz Saeed, also pledged allegiance to al Baghdadi in Oct, 2014 renaming themselves as the Islamic state of Khorasan (ISK) in Afghanistan. IS-K’s early membership included a contingent of Pakistani militants who emerged in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province around 2010, just across the border from the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. Many of these militants were estranged members of TTP and Lashkar-e Islam, who had fled from Pakistan to escape pressure from security forces.
ISK emerged in different provinces of Afghanistan bordering Pakistan but outnumbered in the eastern province of Ningarhar, Achin district, due to some specific reasons. Achin district is one of the backward, underdeveloped and illiterate regions of Afghanistan which makes its population vulnerable to recruitment as new militants. Moreover, peopled welling in this district joined and supported this new group not only for their Islamic ideology but also for the high salaries of $500 paid by this organization.In the beginning of their journey in the region, ISK dealt people in a soft manner and always refrained from offensive language to encourage and inspire the people to join this militant group.
But with the passage of time, ISK changed its behavior and started the forceful imposition of sharia law. People were prevented from the cultivation of opium which was the main source of revenue for the locals of that region, seized drugs and sentenced drug addicted people, however, majority of their own militants were drug addicts and sold drugs seized from the locals to meet their own financial needs. They introduced numerous fabricated laws that were neither in conformity to national, Islamic nor in conformity with the locals laws. The militants of the group were indoctrinated to such an extent that they were willing to sacrifice everything for the interest of the group. One of their militants, involved in a robbery case, accepted his crime in front of the group’s judicial committee. As per the Islamic rules, anyone involved in the robbery would have their hands cut off. Therefore, When the militants were cutting hands, he was chanting ‘’Allah ho Akbar’’-Allah is the greatest.
Taliban and Afghan forces have attacked the Achin district many times but no one of them succeeded in retaking the district from ISK. This region was completely monopolized by this group and they ruled the people according to their own so called sharia law. People started displacement from the region towards Jalalabad, the provincial capital because they were unable to abide by these brutal laws and tolerate the atrocities. Following is a short story which a person told in anonymity about the excessive brutalities perpetrated by ISK in Achin.
“We all flocked outside after Friday prayer, according to announcement in sermon. They brought seven detainees belong to Emirates a Taliban group, Afghan national Army member and spies. All were covered with black ski masks. Meanwhile, an ISIS militant rode on a trained horse, having sharp sword in hands and reached to the spot. He decapitated all of them and shouted “Allah ho Akbar”. With the sound of Allah ho Akbar, we all scattered like flies in the air and no one knows what happened. But later on it was realized by people who delivered us to hospital that the place was targeted by a US drone. Many people were injured, and the ISIS militant who was beheading the prisoners was burned by drone attack. I still have the scene in my mind which has really affected me mentally and can’t take out those thuds of the sword from my mind when he was beheading those innocent people”.
Furthermore, they knelt innocent elders of the Shenwari nation belong to the same district on the bombs accused of in affiliation to the Taliban. A gruesome video also uploaded by them to the YouTube. These kind of brutal acts were the routine of everyday in Daesh or ISK controlled areas.
Afghan Commando assisted by US special forces have been fighting with the ISK in Achin for the last few years and have made significant progress contributing to the liberation of some villages but there are speculations that united states itself is assisting this militant group and supplying food and weapons to them through helicopters which has put the Afghans in doubt. US dropped the ” mother of all bombs” – the most powerful conventional bomb in the American arsenal formally known as GBU-43/B massive ordnance air blast on 13 April 2017 on ISIS Khorasan cave complex in Achin district, Ningarhar. According to a statement from the United States military in Afghanistan, the bomb hit a tunnel complex but they didn’t say how many militants were killed or whether the bombing caused any civilian casualties. The fact is that it was only an experience of their conventional bomb which is clear from the following statement of the Ex-president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai:
“This is not the war on terror but the inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country as testing ground for new and dangerous weapons”. This claim of Ex-president was further forged by the locals of Achin who stated that there was neither weapons depot nor any single ISIS fighter in the targeted region.
Currently Achin district has been cleared by Afghan Forces from this group but there are opportunities of their return to the region. Afghan Forces should show their strong presence, build the region and rehabilitate former militants. We are the veterans of many regions where US and Afghan forces have operated and lost hundreds of their soldiers for clearing the region but have left the region vulnerable to the insurgents return. Moreover, America should equip Afghan forces with sophisticated weapons to counter these threats. Afghan National Directorate can play a vital role in the dissolution of this group by infiltration of their own spies in disguise.
Moreover, in comparison to ISIS in Iraq and Syria, which have oil resources of about $2 billion and financed by different Arab states, this group is very much dependent on local revenues and neighboring state Pakistan. Pakistan may not be able to support two insurgent groups-Taliban and ISK-simultaneously for a single goal. And the so called jihad vacuum is also filled by Taliban which never want any rival jihadi group in Afghanistan.
Imprisoned ISIS Wives and Children Have Nowhere to Run To, Nowhere to Hide
The guards have said if the war comes close, then they will leave here,” a Western ISIS wife texted me today from Camp Roj in far northeastern Syria, a detention center that houses 500 ISIS wives and 1,200 of their children. “What to do if we are left alone?” she asks. “There’s nowhere to go and too risky to get caught by Bashar [al-Assad].”
As she writes, I’m in Belgium sitting next to an FBI agent. I ask him what she should do, but amid all of this chaos, he doesn’t have an immediate answer.
The ISIS wife continues: “I like how America thinks it’s too dangerous for them [the U.S. military] to be here but safe for us to remain with Assad.”
Over the past two years I’ve been in and out of the northeastern territory of Syria held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) six times with staff from the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE). We have conducted in-depth interviews with 217 ISIS men and women, 100 of them in SDF held territory, for our project countering the ISIS brand, which the SDF has supported fully.
The woman texting me today gave us an interview last year and has managed to stay in touch via illicit phones other detainees allow her to use.
At the same time she is texting me, our Kurdish translator texts that they are living under the sound of bombs and troops advancing. Assad’s troops are marching eastward, while Turkey is barreling in from the north. Which soldiers will reach Camp Roj first and what the women should do if the Kurdish YPJ-Women’s Protection Units guarding them decide it’s too dangerous to remain in place, is something the guards have told the inmates to think about.
The female inmates of Camp Ain Issa, farther west, faced a similar dilemma earlier in the week when the Turks began shelling. Until Sunday, Ain Issa Camp housed a total of 12,000 women and children, but according to one Belgian woman, it descended into “complete chaos” as fires broke out, the guards left, and the women escaped in the hundreds.
Among the women housed there, 265 were wives of foreigner terrorist fighters, alongside 1,000 of their children. On the second day of the Turkish air assault, Belgian ISIS wives Bouchra Abouallal and Tatiana Wielandt decided it was better to go on the run with their small children than remain in place to learn what next disaster might befall them.
We interviewed Bouchra Abouallal in September 2019. Completely exhausted from her experience with ISIS, she said that life inside the Caliphate was “the best possible deradicalization program ever.” Already prosecuted in absentia and facing a five-year sentence in her home country of Belgium, she told ICSVE researchers she would prefer to return home even to serve a 20-year sentence rather than remain in the camp under the menace of the cruel ISIS-inmate enforcers who threatened all European women who no longer wanted anything to do with the ISIS Caliphate.
Now Bouchra Abouallal is on the run with her three small children. In audio messages punctuated in the background by shelling she told a Belgian journalist that she was headed toward the front lines in hopes she could make it to safety in Turkey, where she wishes to turn herself into the Belgian consulate and make her way home.
While European officials here in Brussels have stated that Turkey agrees to help any escaped ISIS cadres that end in their hands to be returned to their homelands, up until recently, Belgium was refusing to let her come back. Instead of seeing her as someone victimized by the Islamic State’s propaganda and lies, and fooled by the “Shariah for Belgium” group that had radicalized many in her native city of Antwerp, Belgian politicians see her as a threat.
But it is not difficult for Belgian authorities to turn past posts on her social media accounts against her.
“Your system has failed oh Belgian state,” Bouchra’s Facebook page read after she slipped out of Belgium to go live under the Islamic State. Referring to the way the Belgian police had hassled her upon her first return home from Syria, her posts taunted them, saying “You were watching us 24/7 and you still haven’t managed to stop us. Why? Because Allah is the best planner (…)” Her threats continued with, “We have left because we believe that it is a duty for every Muslim. To the policeman who threatened to take our children away, I can say that my children will turn yours into orphans, with the will of Allah.”
Bouchra claims that it wasn’t she, but one of her ISIS husbands, who authored these hate-filled posts. She says he used to lock her up at home and post on her Facebook page without her permission. Indeed, when we interviewed Bouchra in September she spoke gently as she denounced ISIS, giving us permission to use both her image and her name in a counter narrative video—this, while knowing the ISIS enforcers in the camp would likely punish her for it.
The woman texting me today from Camp Roj does so fearing that if it becomes known it was her texting she will be punished by her YPJ guards. Yet pure terror drives her to try to stay connected with the outside world as she makes wrenching decisions for herself and her young child.
Americans are also in this camp. We have interviewed two American passport holders—Canadian dual-citizen Kimberly Pullman and disputed American citizen Hoda Muthana.
When I ask today’s texter about Americans in the camps, she tells me there are five in all, two more in Camp Roj and another in Camp Hol. She states that there are also two American children in Camp Roj. We’ve met one of them, Adam, the two-year-old son of Hoda Muthana. Both times we interviewed his mother, Adam was struggling with chronic bronchitis. Today the woman texting me from Camp Roj tells me that the air is thick with fumes from the bombings, which is causing many of the children to have breathing difficulties.
“Going to jail right now won’t be great,” this woman writes as she imagines her future in the West—if she can ever manage to get home. Then she envisions another future: “I could get lost among all of this trouble.” Then again she realizes that fleeing the camp, if her guards do abandon their posts, might also prove disastrous.
“Please let the governments know that we are not happy with the escape of the women [who have left the camps]. We are actually scared and want to just be safe in our own embassies,” she texts. “We don’t want to keep running away. We want to be tried. I’ve already had the chance to run away before and I decided to be tried in my own country.”
Now the pressing question, amid all of this chaos unleashed by Trump greenlighting the Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria: Is anyone going to do anything to get these former ISIS wives and their children back home where they can face justice and live in safety or do we just leave them to face whatever fate turns up as hostile armies converge?
Author’s note: first published in the Daily Beast
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