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Marrying Over The Internet Into The Islamic State

Marrying over the Internet into the Islamic State

by Anne Speckhard & Ardian Shajkovci

Interpreting Scriptures in the Islamic State Caliphate is the 109th counter narrative video in the ICSVE Breaking the ISIS Brand Counter Narrative series. This video features 29-year-old Belgian Abu Usama al Belgique, who was interviewed by Anne Speckhard and Ardian Shajkovci in August of 2018 in a detention facility in northern Syria run by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The video clip was video edited and produced by Zack Baddorf and our ICSVE team.

In this video clip, Abu Usama tells a story of ISIS corruption and lack of fealty among the ISIS cadres.  He begins by saying, “A German [ISIS] guy, he’s originally from Morocco. He wanted to marry a German wife. Maybe they were married on the Internet, because in ISIS, many people married on Internet, Skype and Facebook like this. She wanted to come to ISIS, to join her husband. When she came to the border [of ISIS territory, she said] ‘I came for my husband or for one man I want to marry.’”

“In ISIS, you know, Iraqis have powers,” Abu Usama states, referring to the fact that most of the ISIS leadership was Iraqi or Syrian. “Iraqi [ISIS] people, they have Glocks and Hilux Toyota [trucks]. And he sees this wife from the West, from Europe, he says, ‘It’s better for me.’ Maybe he saw the woman as beautiful. And when she says, ‘Where is my husband?’ And they say, ‘Your husband is dead.’ But he’s not dead,” he adds.

“After a few days, the German man goes to the border,” Abu Usama continues, “and he says, ‘I heard my wife, she came. I want to know where she is.’ They say, ‘She is gone. She is married to an Iraqi guy.’ ISIS has many mafias like this. You have so many stories [like this]. Even inside ISIS, there is not friendship, like brother, like we are one. You have many stories [where they] stole from each other, you know.” 

Abu Usama continues with his stories of ISIS mistreatment: “Like, I know one Belgian guy,

he was in prison. They torture him. They torture him, because he says, ‘You are a spy. You are working for the crusaders against us. You kill Hanani. You kill many people.’  But he has nothing to do [with that]. He never saw Hanani in his life. And they beat him, they beat him, they beat him, for 30 days. And he was maybe 52 days in prison. Then [ISIS] knows after 52 days, he was innocent. After they know he is innocent, he gave him a sak

[a document]

to say, ‘We are sorry.’”

“And all these radical groups, I now understand from my mistake that these people want only power and this new religion from 300 years ago, Wahhabi religion,” Abu Usama states. Abu Usama, like many who came to Syria radicalized and with Islamic ideals in their mind, has gradually come to terms with the un-Islamic, corrupt, and highly brutal nature of the ISIS Caliphate.  He now understands how extremists in his home country of Belgium and ISIS leaders in Syria and Iraq, respectively, manipulated Islamic scriptures to support their movement. He adds, “After a few years, I understand all these texts are not in its place. You have one Quran. You have one verse in the Quran, you can make 10 interpretations or 20. The groups, like Sharia4Belgium, they make interpretation to understand you it’s like this. Not to look the story [in the Quran] and the details and everything.”

“You live like in the darkness and scared,” Abu Usama says of life in the ISIS Caliphate. “You must be with them. But inside, in your heart, you say, ‘I’m not with these people. I don’t want to be like these people, ” he shares.

Likewise, he now understands, “This Islam is not going to bring you to Paradise. It’s going to bring you to hell, killing innocent people, kidnapping journalists and making terror attacks and killing children.

Discussion Questions:

What do you feel watching this video?

Do you believe Abu Usama is telling the truth about his experiences and observations living under the ISIS Caliphate?

What do you think of the story Abu Usama tells of an Iraqi leader telling a woman who has travelled all the way to Syria to marry that her intended spouse is dead, and marrying her instead?

Do you believe there was true friendship among ISIS cadres, or that everyone was afraid and suspected one another?

What do you think of someone being accused of being a spy and tortured and then suddenly told it was all a mistake?

What do you think of a group that tortures confessions out of innocents and brutally punishes some mistakenly?

Do you believe that groups like Shariah4Belgium and ISIS manipulated Islamic texts and left out key elements of the context of these scriptures to entice people into following them?

Do you know how to judge and learn if a hadith is considered authentic or not?

What are the requirements of a true Islamic scholar who can teach and advise well about Islam?

Do you believe killing innocents on behalf of Islam can ever be justified?  Why or why not?

Do you agree with Abu Usama’s conclusion that ISIS leaders manipulated religion and simply wanted power?

Do you believe that it is possible to build a just Islamic Caliphate?

Provided it was just, would it rely on terrorism and brutal tactics like ISIS used to create that Caliphate?

Islamic Scriptures Related to this Video

Marriage in Islam happens with the consent of the man and woman. When the husband dies, the woman has to practice the “Iddah”, a period of 4 lunar months and 10 days in which the woman mourns her husband and observes whether she is pregnant from her now deceased husband.  As the Quran instructs on such matters: “And those of you who die and leave wives behind such wives shall wait by themselves for four months and ten (nights).” Surah al-Baqarah (the cow), Ayah No. 234. Following this waiting period, the woman has the right to marry again. In the case of a marriage over the Internet, as Abu Usama describes, if a woman’s husband was not dead, and she married another man, and her new husband knows that her real husband is alive, then he is committing adultery, and the marriage contract would not be considered legitimate.

Torturing is haram, meaning forbidden, in Islam. According to Islam, when torture is carried out against an innocent person, the tortured has the right to do the same to those who torture him, as the Quran says: “If any one aggresses against you, so aggress against him with the likeness of that which he has aggressed against you. Fear Allah, and know that Allah is with the cautious.” Surah al-Baqarah (the cow), Ayah No. 194. This verse is often used and manipulated by terrorists. For instance, they often claim they have the right to target westerners in response to torture carried out against fellow Muslims in Guantanamo Bay or by dressing Western hostages (e.g. journalists) in orange jumpsuits and torturing them as well. However, this verse refers to harming only those who harm, and not the members of public at large, as terrorists try to argue. Torturing people, in any case, is against the Islamic law. If a person dies due to torture, then the relatives of the deceased have the right to kill the killer, as the Quran says: “Believers, retaliation is decreed for you concerning the killed. A free (man) for a free (man), a slave for a slave, and a female for a female.” Surah al-Baqarah (the cow), Ayah No. 178.  Again, it should be emphasized that these verses do not condone generalized revenge against a whole society or civilians for the acts of their military or intelligence, for instance.

ISIS, and other groups like it, manipulate the sacred religious texts in order to recruit people, or to appear as though they are the holders of Islam in their time. Also apparent in their conduct, they don’t possess a real knowledge to understand the texts and to derive the needed laws and contemporary practices out of it. The scholars of Islam, such as Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim and others, have made enormous efforts to collect the authentic hadiths of the Prophet and have compiled many books that contain these hadiths. True Islamic scholars  understand which are authentic hadiths that can be trusted and will always discuss and interpret verses in the context of when they were written, and what else the Quran and hadiths say on the same subject, versus cherry picking texts to support terrorist violence.

Killing innocents cannot ever be justified in Islam under any pretext, as the Quran states: “It is not for a believer to kill another believer, except that it is by error. Whosoever kills a believer in error, let him free a believing slave, and ransom is to be handed to his family, unless they forgo being charitable. If he belonged to a people who are your enemies and is a believer then, the setting free of a believing slave. If he belonged to a people in which there is between you and them a treaty, then a ransom is to be handed to his family and the setting free of a believing slave. But, if he does not find (the means) let him fast two consecutive months in repentance to Allah. And Allah is the Knower, the Wise. The recompense for he who kills a believer deliberately is Gehenna (Hell), he is eternal there. Allah will be angry with him and will curse him and prepare for him a great punishment.” Surah al-Nisaa (women), Ayah No. 92-93.

The proverbial saying holds that “power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” ISIS leaders are no exception to this. As also discussed through the lens of this ISIS insider testimony, and others like him, ISIS leaders have a lust for power. While running their so-called Caliphate, they were tyrants killing and beating innocents into submission under their rule.

Transcript of Marrying over the Internet into the Islamic State

A German [ISIS] guy, he’s originally from Morocco.

He wanted to marry a German wife.

Maybe they were married on the Internet, 

because in ISIS many people married

on Internet, Skype and Facebook like this.

She wanted to come to ISIS,

to join her husband.

When she came to the border [of ISIS territory],

[she said] ‘I came for my husband

or for one man I want to marry.’

In ISIS, you know,

Iraqis have powers.

Iraqi [ISIS] people,

 they have Glocks and HiLux Toyota [trucks].

ABU USAMA

al BELGIQUE

29-year-old Belgian

Former ISIS Soldier

And he sees this wife from the West, from Europe,

he says, ‘It’s better for me.’

Maybe he saw the woman as beautiful.

And when she says, ‘Where is my husband?’

And they say, ‘Your husband is dead.’ 

But he’s not dead.

After a few days, the German man goes to the border

and he says, ‘I heard my wife, she came.’

‘I want to know where she is.’

They say, ‘She is gone. She is married to an Iraqi guy.’

 ISIS has many mafia like this.

You have so many stories [like this].

Even inside ISIS, there is not friendship,

 like brother, like we are one.

You have many stories

[where they] stole from each other, you know. 

Like, I know one Belgian guy,

he was in prison. They torture him.

They torture him,

 because he says, ‘You are a spy.’

‘You are working for

the crusaders against us.’

‘You kill Hanani. You kill many people.’ 

But he has nothing to do [with that].

He never saw Hanani in his life.

And they beat him,

they beat him, they beat him, for 30 days.

And he was maybe 52 days in prison.

Then [ISIS] knows after 52 days,

 he was innocent.

After they know he is innocent, he gave him

a sak [a document] to say, ‘We are sorry.’

And all these radical groups,

I now understand from my mistake

that these people want only power and

this new religion from 300 years ago, Wahhabi religion.

After a few years,

 I understand all this texts are not in its place.

You have one Quran.

You have one verse in the Quran,

you can make 10 interpretations or 20.

The groups, like Sharia4Belgium,

they make interpretation to understand you it’s like this.

Not to look the story [in the Quran]

and the details and everything.

You live like in the darkness and scared.

You must be with them.

But inside, in your heart,

you say, ‘I’m not with these people.’

‘I don’t want to be like these people.’

This Islam is not going to

 bring you to Paradise.

It’s going to bring you to hell,

 killing innocent people,

kidnapping journalists and

making terror attacks and killing children.

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=169) with ISIS defectors, returnees and prisoners, studying their trajectories into and out of terrorism, their experiences inside ISIS, as well as developing the 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. 

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