Fight ISIS on the Ideas Front, too

A new human-rights report exposes the group’s horrific crimes.

Fight ISIS on the Ideas Front

Former congressman Frank Wolf released yesterday an important new human-rights report on Iraq’s religious minorities, aptly entitled “Edge of Extinction.” Detailing some of the Islamic terrorists’ cruelest practices, particularly with respect to women and children, this documentation should serve as the opening salvo in the long-neglected battle of ideas over Islamic extremism.

Mr. Wolf, who stepped down from his congressional seat last month, just returned from Iraq with the new Christian human-rights group, the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, where he is a distinguished senior fellow. In Kurdistan, less than two miles from the front line, he and his team interviewed Christians and Yazidis persecuted by the Islamic State, banished from their homes, and now huddled with hundreds of thousands like them in abject misery in Iraq’s northernmost province.

One Christian woman, whose family could not flee the city of Qaraqosh when the Islamic State invaded on August 6 because her husband is blind, told Wolf, “We could hear ‘Allah akbar!’ in the streets. ‘Christians, go away or we will kill you.’ After that they came to our house. ‘Convert or we will kill you.’” The next thing she knew, the jihadists had snatched her three-year-old daughter from her lap, and took the baby away.

A Yazidi teenager called Du’a told Wolf that she was captured by the Islamic State near Sinjar and taken to Mosul where she was held with 700 other girls. One of the kidnapped girls was a seven-month-old child. The report recounts their experience in Mosul: “The girls were separated according to eye color, and members of IS were allowed to choose the young women according to their personal preference.” The left-over girls were then “separated into ‘pretty’ and ‘ugly’ groups with those deemed most beautiful transported elsewhere.” After this humiliation, Du’a was forcibly “married” to a Muslim man. Deeply traumatized, she nevertheless later managed to escape.

What has become of the other kidnap victims? Some were killed, committed suicide, or trafficked as sex slaves. The Wilberforce team was not able to find out the specific fates of most. The Qaraqosh family’s toddler girl is still missing, as is the Yazidi infant.

But in a report of February 4, 2015, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child sheds some light on the fate of the Islamic State’s kidnapped children. It states that “markets” have been set up by the group, “in which they sell abducted children and women attaching price tags to them.” It notes that the former Badoush prison outside Mosul is now used as a “makeshift prison” for “the sexual enslavement of children.”

The Committee also reports on the systematic killing of minority children by the Islamic State, including “several cases of mass executions of boys, as well as reports of beheadings, crucifixions of children and burying children alive.”

Foreign fighters continue to stream into Iraq and Syria in unprecedented numbers to join the Islamic State and other terrorist groups, Nick Rasmussen, chief of the National Counter Terrorism Center attested yesterday at a House Homeland Security hearing. Committee chairman Representative Michael McCaul (R., Texas) called the influx “the largest convergence of Islamist terrorists in world history.” At least 20,000 foreigners from 90 different countries have flocked there so far. U.S. intelligence officials fear this is creating a worldwide security problem, creating the conditions for more terror attacks like the one recently carried out in Paris, which was led by a French Muslim who reportedly trained with Al-Qaeda in Yemen.

The military and security measures being discussed on Capitol Hill are inarguably necessary but there is also an important battle of ideas that should be taken seriously. The establishment of a caliphate in the heart of the Arab world has evoked a positive vision of an earthly utopia for some young radical Muslims, even for some born and raised in the West. The sickening injustices and cruelties of the Islamic State, the genocide of religious minorities, as the Wolf report terms it, needs to be publicized. After a flurry of media reports last August, human-rights reporting on the Islamic State has slowed. It must be sustained. Reports such as these give the lie to any dream that the Islamic State’s marauding is anything but an un-holy war.

Originally published:

Nina Shea is the director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom and a co-author of Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians.

A Report from the Field by Dr Sarah Ahmed

Erbil, Kurdistan

FRRME continues to provide relief for the displaced Christians, Shabak, Yazidi, and Muslims in northern Iraq. We [have] helped with the needs of many refugee camps. The needs of the camps range from water, ice and water coolers, to mattresses, blankets and pillows. Our journey started at 7 a.m., when we delivered 3,000 [loaves] of bread to “Mazar Mart Shamoni,” which hosts 2,650 displaced people, 650 of [whom] are children. The bread was served during the breakfast meal and again during dinner.

Then, we left for Al-Hikma School, where 650 displaced people have been living in classrooms for the past week. We delivered 150 kg of chicken, 60 dozen eggs, and 50 kg of potatoes and onions that were cooked and served during lunch. As we were leaving the school, we took a couple of pictures to document the misery of the people so our donors and supporters could see what the people have been going through. Suddenly, a lady cried, “Stop taking pictures. We used to live with dignity in our houses that look like palaces. But we were forced to leave because we feared the brutality of ISIS”. We assured her that the pictures are going to be used for fund-raising purposes. We really felt bad and then said sorry to her, and she excused us when we showed her the pictures; she knew we didn’t mean to demean her or the situation.

We were then contacted by Father Emanuel, who is managing Mazar Mart Shamoni. He asked us to get air [conditioners] that are needed to cool the tents, in which the displaced families were living; the air [conditioners] were for about 80 families. So we moved to the old part of Erbil where home appliances are sold to get the [A/Cs]. After finding a reliable type of cooler and paying for it, we bought 100 mattresses, 100 pillows, and 100 blankets to be provided for a new shelter that has been opened recently for Christian refugees from Mosul, in which about 70 families were living.

Around noon we received a call from the carpenter who had been making cradles for about 40 families, letting us know that they were ready. The cradles were provided for the kids from the Shabak minority in a distant camp. We took the cradles, and we headed to the camp which was 30 minutes away. As we moved, it became very windy and rained heavily for around five minutes. It was not a big deal for us. However, when we got to the camp, we were shocked by the impact the short storm had caused to the camp. The camp is located in an open, dusty area and consists of tents that are poorly supported. So when the short storm occurred, the tents were blown away, and some of them fall on the elderly and the children and caused the death of a woman, leaving all her kids behind. The refugees rushed to rescue whoever was impacted and took them to a safer place. Some of the refugees had arrived recently to the camp, so they were placed in shelters that were open [at the top], so when the storm occurred, their stuff got wet and their food got spoiled.

There are so many medical problems, and apparently, because they are living in the desert where there is no electricity, the canned food they are getting is spoiled. So many people came to us complaining of diarrhea, and vomiting. They said, “Even the food they get us is spoiled, Doctor. This is not a life.” The situation is devastating, and [we] can’t even put into words what we saw. People are dying, people are suffering, and we didn’t see any major help provided by the UN as we heard. The tents were UN-provided, but after the rain… Can’t even thank them for [that].

It was a really hard day, hearing that Amo [an elderly man who needed a wheelchair] died, this young lady died [when the tent fell on her], and seeing so much suffering. However, we were happy that we had some relief for them. We distributed the cradles and provided bags of food for more than 300 families. What made our day were the smiles that were drawn on the faces of the disabled people when we gave them the wheelchairs. One of the older disabled [persons who] never left his tent before we saw as we were leaving the camp, sitting on his new wheelchair in the main area of the camp with some friends enjoying a conversation.

We ended our day by delivering more bread for about 2,000 families for dinner. Also, making more plans for the day after.

There are so many things needed, and people are getting tired of no one doing anything. I have heard that there is so [much] aid coming in to the north, but I haven’t seen any. I have seen camps, and their misery. I have seen people dying. I have seen women who are due, and can’t even go check. I have seen everything bad, but not much good to equal it. I am hoping that more aid will come in the coming weeks. I’ll keep helping as much as I can meanwhile. I’ll keep providing for all the Christians and all the other religious minorities: Shabak, Yazidis, Ifailies, and Shia Muslims. As the representative and the Director of Operations for the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, I WON’T STOP UNTIL THE LAST DISPLACED FAMILY IN ANY OF THE CAMPS IN THE NORTH OF IRAQ IS EITHER BACK TO THEIR HOME, OR IN A BETTER PLACE. THAT IS MY PROMISE.