Tens of thousands of ISIS members are re-radicalizing inside Kurdish prison camps

Islamic State womenTens of thousands of supporters of the Islamic State, many of them women and children, are re-radicalizing inside vast Kurdish-run prison camps with inadequate security and almost no infrastructure or provisions. In a shocking report published last week, The Washington Post exposed the dire conditions at the al-Hawl prison camp in northern Syria, which the paper described as “a cauldron of radicalization” and “an academy” for captured supporters of the Islamic State (known also as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS). Over 70,000 people are being held at the prison camp, of which 20,000 are believed to be women and 50,000 are children. Male members of the Islamic State are being held separately. Most of the 70,000 inmates in al-Hawl are Syrian and Iraqi citizens. An estimated 10,000 consist of Africans, Asians, Europeans and Arabs from countries other than Syria and Iraq. They are held in a separate annex of the prison camp and are believed to be the most radical of all the inmates.

The inmates of the al-Hawl prison camp are guarded and provided for by no more than 400 Kurdish fighters of the Western-supported Syrian Democratic Forces, according to The Post. The paper cited fourteen people, including inmates, Kurdish officials and aid workers, who claimed that the 400 guards are unable to enter the camp or provide even a semblance of law and order. Instead, law and order inside the prison is maintained by the women, who remain fully committed to the principles of the Islamic State, said the paper. They continue to follow the strict rules of the Islamic State and impose brutal punishment on those women and children who do not follow these rules. Women who speak to people from outside the prison camp, including journalists and lawyers, are later beaten and tortured; some have even been executed as a form of punishment, said The Post. Many of the Kurdish guards have also been attacked by the women and have been stabbed with makeshift weapons or had their arms and legs broken by them.

Islamic State paraphernalia, including black flags and pro-ISIS banners, are regularly confiscated from inmates. The latter have even managed to smuggle video messages to the outside world. In one such video message, a group of veiled al-Hawl inmates are seen holding the banner of the Islamic State and urging the group’s male members to “light the fire of jihad and free us [women] from these prisons”. The women in the video call themselves as “women of the mujahedeen” and issue a warning against “the enemies of Allah”: “you think you have imprisoned us in your rotten camp. But we are a ticking bomb. Just you wait and see”, they say. Responding to these messages, a Kurdish intelligence official told The Post that the Syrian Democratic Forces could “contain the women, but we can’t control their ideology”.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 12 September 2019 | Permalink

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