Listen to and Obey the Islamic State

62 – Listen To And Obey The Islamic State

Anne Speckhard & Ardian Shajkovci

Listen to and Obey the Islamic Stateis the 62nd counter narrative video in the ICSVEBreaking the ISIS Brandseries. This video features 19-year-old Syrian Ibn Ahmed, who was interviewed in November 2015, in southern Turkey, by Anne Speckhard and Ahmet Yayla. The video clip was video edited and produced by Zack Baddorf and our ICSVE team. 

“Foreign fighters really came [to Syria and Iraq] because they thought it was a true Islamic State and jihad,”Syrian Ibn Ahmed concludes based on his observations and interactions with foreign fighters he met and who streamed into Syria and Iraq, many to fight for ISIS and help establish the so-called “Caliphate.” 

“When they sat with the sheikhs, they were brainwashed with a few passages from the Quran,” Ibn Ahmed explains, further adding, “[ISIS] focused on women captives and fighting the apostates.” And as many Syrians and foreign fighter ISIS cadres have also recalled, ISIS is a “hear and obey” organization. “The moment they sit together, the foreign fighters are told to listen and obey,” Ibn Ahmed explains. He further explains, “‘You will kill when we tell you to kill.’ [they said].”

Ibn Ahmed encountered a number of foreign ISIS fighters, including an American, Tunisian, and Egyptian. He, like many of the Syrian ISIS members, recalls resenting the privileges and power that foreign fighters were granted by ISIS: “Each foreign fighter had a room and a TV. Some even smoked hookah. I saw them. Of course, no one can say that, or you’ll get beheaded. “

Due to his inability to speak any foreign language, coupled with the foreign fighters’ lack of Arabic, Ibn Ahmed was unable to communicate with the foreign fighters he met. “They just say As-Salaam Alaikum[Islamic greeting meaning peace be unto you]. That’s all they know,” he recalls.

Ibn Ahmed explains that since most foreign fighters didn’t speak Arabic, they were confused about who they were fighting, and could be easily commanded by ISIS to kill other Muslims—even other Sunnis. “When they first came to Deir ez-Zor, ISIS claimed they freed it from the [Syrian] regime,” Ibn Ahmed recounts. “When the situation became clear, it turned out [the foreign fighters] were in actuality fighting the Free Syrian Army. In the beginning, they tell you that you’re fighting the [Assad] regime. But the foreign fighters don’t know anything.  They think they are fighting the regime, but really they are killing innocents,” he explains. 

While serving as an ISIS guard, Ibn Ahmed saw foreign fighters pick out Yazidi female captives to rape. “I remember an incident when foreign fighters went to pick [a woman to rape],” Ibn Ahmed recounts.  He further adds, “One of the women spat on them. They took her outside in the hallway and kicked her and stomped on her stomach until she started bleeding, and then they threw her back in the prison.”  He narrates another rape story as well: “Another person, who was a foreign fighter from Tunisia, went in to the room to rape [a girl]. He went in and put his handgun to one side and left the room to wash up. She was in the corner terrified. When he came back, she took the gun and shot him in the head.  She killed him and they said she ran away.” Ibn Ahmed believes that Free Syrian Army cells helped her get away to safety. 

Ibn Ahmed’s video ends with him warning, “[If you join ISIS], they will put you through the training and then you’ll see rape and murder. You’ll see torture and flogging. You’ll see poverty, and you can’t do anything about it.  And if you want to leave, you’ll be killed—or you do what they say. ‘Listen and obey,’ [ISIS says].”

He concludes by invoking the name of Allah, and stating, “ I advise you not to join ISIS. ISIS kills the innocent and rapes women. I advise you not to come. If you think you can come back, you can’t. You will die.

Discussion Questions:

What do you feel when watching this video?

Do you believe Ibn Ahmed is who he says he is?

Do you believe the stories of abuse that Ibn Ahmed is telling?

Do you believe that lack of languages (Arabic in this case) complicated the prospect of navigating and understanding the realities of a complex environment such as Syria and Iraq, as was the case for most foreign fighters coming to Syria?

What do you think of the ISIS practice of raping women they hold captive? Do you think there is any Islamic justification for this?

Ibn Ahmed states that ISIS is a “hear and obey” organization. Is  it ever right to simply turn over your personal responsibility and decision-making capacities to others?

Islamic Scriptures Related to this Video:

In Islam each individual carries the responsibility of his/her own actions, Allah says: “And to every human we have fastened to him his bird of deeds upon his neck; and on the Day of Resurrection We shall bring forth to him a book spread open wide.” Al-Isara’ (the night journey), Ayah No. 36. Allah also says: “Everyone is pledged for what he has earned.” Surah al-Tur (the mount), Ayah No. 21.

Raping is against Islam. There is no condition in which this brutal action is allowed. In fact Islam punished over such things as it is regarded as adultery. The punishment for rape is to be killed if the rapist is married, and 100 lashes if unmarried. Protecting people, especially women, is one of the five major purposes behind every Islamic legislation.

Timed transcript of Listen to and Obey the Islamic Statevideo:

Listen to and Obey the Islamic State

0:02     Foreign fighters really came because they thought it was a true Islamic State and jihad

0:07     When they sat with the sheikhs they were brainwashed with a few passages from the Quran.

0:14     [ISIS] focused on women captives and fighting the apostates. 

0:21     The moment they sit together, the foreign fighters are told to listen and obey. 

0:41     ‘You will kill when we tell you to kill.’ [they said].

0:47     Ibn Ahmed said he encountered a number of foreign ISIS fighters, including an American, Tunisians and an Egyptian.

0:52      IBN AHMED

Syrian Former ISIS Soldier

19-years-old

Each foreign fighter had a room and a TV. 

0:56     Some even smoked hookah. I saw them. 

1:01     Of course, no one can say that, or you’ll get beheaded. 

1:05     [The foreign fighters] speak foreign languages. You can’t understand them. 

1:09     They just say As-Salaam Alaikum[Islamic greeting meaning peace be unto you]. 

1:12     That’s all they know. 


1:15      Ibn Ahmed said since most foreign fighters didn’t speak Arabic, they were confused about who they were fighting, and could be easily commanded by ISIS to kill other Muslims—even other Sunnis.

1:20     When they first came to Deir ez-Zor, ISIS claimed they freed it from the [Syrian] regime.

1:31     When the situation became clear, 

1:34     it turned out [the foreign fighters] thought they were fighting the regime,

 1:37    but they were really fighting the Free Syrian Army. 

1:43     At the start they tell you that you’re fighting the [Assad] regime. 

1:47     But the foreign fighters don’t know anything.  

1:49     They think they are fighting the regime, but really they are killing innocents. 

1:53     For example, they bring in a civilian and say he’s a ranking [regime] official and he has to be killed. 

2:04     But he is actually an innocent person.  

2:08     That’s a huge mistake.

 2:11    While serving as a guard, Ibn Ahmed saw foreign fighters pick out Yazidi female captives to rape.

2:17     I remember an incident when foreign fighters went to pick [a woman to rape]. 

2:24     One of the women spat on them. 

2:27     They took her outside in the hallway and kicked her and stomped on her stomach 

2:33     until she started bleeding and then they threw her back in the prison. 

2:40     Another person, who was a foreign fighter from Tunisia, went in to the room to rape [a girl]. 

2:53     He went in and put his handgun to one side and left the room to wash up. 

3:01     She was in the corner terrified. When he came back, she took the gun and shot him in the head.  

3:18     She killed him and they said she ran away. There was a story I heard, which I believe is true,

3:27     that there were Free Syrian Army cells that helped her get away to safety. 

3:33     [If you join ISIS], they will put you through the training and then you’ll see rape and murder. 

3:42     You’ll see torture and flogging. You’ll see poverty, and you can’t do anything about it. 

3:50     And if you want to leave, you’ll be killed—or you do what they say. 

3:54     ‘Listen and obey,’ [ISIS says].   

3:57     In the name of Allahthe Most Graciousthe Most Merciful

4:00     I advise you not to join ISIS. ISIS kills the innocent and rapes women. 

4:08     I advise you not to come. If you think you can come back, you can’t. You will die.

4:16     The Truth Behind the Islamic State

4:19     Sponsored by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism

            www.ICSVE.org

4:24     See more at www.TheRealJihad.org

About the authors:

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D., is Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) and serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. She has interviewed over 600 terrorists, their family members and supporters in various parts of the world including in Western Europe, the Balkans, Central Asia, the Former Soviet Union and the Middle East. In the past two years, she and ICSVE staff have been collecting interviews (n=101) with ISIS defectors, returnees and prisoners, studying their trajectories into and out of terrorism, their experiences inside ISIS, as well as developing the Breaking the ISIS Brand Counter Narrative Project materials from these interviews. She has also been training key stakeholders in law enforcement, intelligence, educators, and other countering violent extremism professionals on the use of counter-narrative messaging materials produced by ICSVE both locally and internationally as well as studying the use of children as violent actors by groups such as ISIS and consulting on how to rehabilitate them. In 2007, she was responsible for designing the psychological and Islamic challenge aspects of the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq to be applied to 20,000 + detainees and 800 juveniles. She is a sought after counterterrorism expert and has consulted to NATO, OSCE, foreign governments and to the U.S. Senate & House, Departments of State, Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, Health & Human Services, CIA and FBI and CNN, BBC, NPR, Fox News, MSNBC, CTV, and in Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, London Times and many other publications. She regularly speaks and publishes on the topics of the psychology of radicalization and terrorism and is the author of several books, including Talking to Terrorists, Bride of ISIS, Undercover Jihadi and ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate. Her publications are found here: https://georgetown.academia.edu/AnneSpeckhard and on the ICSVE website http://www.icsve.org Follow @AnneSpeckhard

Ardian Shajkovci, Ph.D., is the Director of Research and a Senior Research Fellow at the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE). He has been collecting interviews with ISIS defectors and studying their trajectories into and out of terrorism as well as training key stakeholders in law enforcement, intelligence, educators, and other countering violent extremism professionals on the use of counter-narrative messaging materials produced by ICSVE both locally and internationally. He has also been studying the use of children as violent actors by groups such as ISIS and how to rehabilitate them. He has conducted fieldwork in Western Europe, the Balkans, Central Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, mostly recently in Jordan and Iraq. He has presented at professional conferences and published on the topic of radicalization and terrorism. He holds a doctorate in Public Policy and Administration, with a focus on Homeland Security Policy, from Walden University. He obtained his M.A. degree in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University and a B.A. degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from Dominican University. He is also an adjunct professor teaching counterterrorism and CVE courses at Nichols College. 

Anne Speckhard

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. is Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine and has also taught the Psychology of Terrorism for the Security Studies Department in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She is the Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism. Dr. Speckhard has been working in the field of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since the 1980’s and has extensive experience working in Europe, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union.