skip to Main Content

ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. & Ahmet S. Yayla, Ph.D. speaking at New America, July 22, 2016

Watch here

Little is known about ISIS’ rule in Syria and Iraq and even less about its internal organizational dealings. In ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate, Dr. Anne Speckhard and Dr. Ahmet S. Yayla provide an unparalleled examination of the internal workings of the group through 32 interviews with ISIS defectors. The defectors were fighters and commanders, wives of fighters—living and dead, female enforcers, and Cubs of the Caliphate, including a child who volunteered and almost got sent as a suicide bomber at age thirteen. They discuss motivations for joining and defecting, and delve into news-making topics: coercing children to become suicide bombers; brides of ISIS and the brutal female morality police; Yazidi and Sunni sex slaves held in massive compounds where fighters use them at will; privilege bestowed on foreign fighters; prisoners kept for the sole purpose of beheading by new inductees. 

Follow the discussion online using #ISISDefectors following @NewAmericaISP. 

Copies of the book will be available for purchase by credit card. 

Participants: 

Dr. Anne Speckhard 
Director, International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) 
Co-Author, ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate 
@AnneSpeckhard 

Dr. Ahmet Yayhla 
Deputy Director, International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) 
Co-Author, ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate 
@ahmetsyayla 
Moderator: 

Peter Bergen 
Vice President, New America 
@peterbergencnn 

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. is Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University in the School of Medicine and Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE). She is also the author of Talking to Terrorists, Bride of ISIS and coauthor of Undercover Jihadi and Warrior Princess. Dr. Speckhard has interviewed nearly 500 terrorists, their family members and supporters in various parts of the world including Gaza, West Bank, Chechnya, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and many countries in Europe. 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. 

Ahmet S. Yayla, Ph.D. is the Deputy Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE). He is also Adj. Professor at the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University and formerly served as Professor and the Chair of the Sociology Department at Harran University in Turkey. Dr. Yayla earned both his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Criminal Justice and Information Science from the University of North Texas in the United States. Dr. Yayla served as the Chief of Counter-terrorism and Operations Division for the Turkish National Police. 

More: http://www.newamerica.org/international-security/events/isis-defectors/

ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate

Buy the book on Amazon.comISIS Defectors

Read the Reviews

Released July 1, 2016 by Advances Press, LLC

The authors hadn’t intended to put themselves in danger but that’s what happened as they interviewed an unprecedented thirty-two battle-hardened defectors about the gritty details of life inside ISIS. With unparalleled breadth, depth and access, ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate offers a compelling view of ISIS from men, women and teens now in hiding, having escaped the most brutal terrorist group in recent history.

They were fighters and commanders, wives of fighters—living and dead, female enforcers, and Cubs of the Caliphate, including a child who volunteered and almost got sent as a suicide bomber at age thirteen. They discuss motivations for joining and defecting, and delve into news-making topics: coercing children to become suicide bombers; brides of ISIS and the brutal female morality police; Yazidi and Sunni sex slaves held in massive compounds where fighters use them at will; privilege bestowed on foreign fighters; prisoners kept for the sole purpose of beheading by new inductees. The defectors shared a startling array of photos and videos from personal cell phones and many are included in the digital version of this book.

An unexpected subplot unfolded when Dr. Yayla found himself tailed by ISIS, and Dr. Speckhard barely missed two suicide attacks. But the authors are not deterred. As counter-terrorism experts with specialties in research psychology and law enforcement, they see ISIS as more than a terrorist group. ISIS is a brand that falsely sells dignity and purpose, justice and the restoration of glory—to vulnerable recruits—masterfully recruiting some 30,000 members online. It’s the biggest influx of foreign fighters to a terrorist haven in history.

Using the defectors own words, the authors intend to break the ISIS brand. They have videotaped these interviews to edit them into short clips, memes and tweets for an online counter-offensive. Speckhard and Yayla state that disillusioned ISIS defectors are the most influential tool for countering ISIS propaganda. The persuasive voices of these defectors and the resulting videos will soon invade ISIS chat rooms where their propaganda thrives. With over one thousand active investigations in the U.S. across all 50 states, discrediting ISIS ideology is essential to stopping it.

See advance reviews or order the book here.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

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.

Back To Top