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Revenge In The Islamic State

Revenge in the Islamic State

Anne Speckhard & Ardian Shajkovci

Revenge in the Islamic Stateis the 69th counter narrative video in the ICSVE Breaking the ISIS Brandseries. This video features 22-year-old Abu Valid, a Syrian defected ISIS fighter. Abu Valid was interviewed in December of 2015, in Southern Turkey, by Anne Speckhard and Ahmet Yayla. The video was produced and edited by Zack Baddorf and ICSVE staff.

When the Syrian uprising occurred, Abu Valid, like many other Sunni Syrians, joined the Free Syrian Army (FSA). He was captured and tortured by ISIS, and, as he claims, forced under the threat of death to join and serve them. 

In this video, Abu Valid tells about being imprisoned by ISIS and finding out that, “One of the guys who was affiliated with [ISIS] … knew one of the people with me.” Their ISIS captor had tried to marry Abu Valid’s friend’s sister. “He wanted to marry her even before the war started,” Abu Valid explains, adding, “He proposed many times, but the family rejected him many times. He even proposed during the war and the siege. The rejection came from her brother and from the whole family.”  He further explains how the ISIS man now “found a good opportunity for revenge” upon the man whose family had rejected him.

“He used various ways [for revenge],” Abu Valid recalls. “He used to isolate him and flog him. He used to cuss at him. It scared us all.”

After some time, Abu Valid was taken before an ISISshariahjudge, who happened to be a foreign fighter. The ISIS judge promised to re-unite Abu Valid with his family provided he would identify the hiding place of a Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander in order to kill him. Abu Valid recounts, “The foreign [judge] came, and I told him, ‘I don’t know those people.’ ‘I just heard about them but I never met them. I’m from Deir ez-Zor. Those people are from FSA.’”

“Confess and tell us where they are,” Abu Valid recounts the judge demanding. “You should tell us the truth, [otherwise] your fate is to be beheaded,” the judge fiercely threatened.  Abu Valid states that he was tortured into joining ISIS and threatened with death if he refused, so he and other FSA captives  gave in and joined. 

ISIS tortured and threatened Abu Valid and the other Free Syrian Army captives with death if they didn’t join ISIS. Through direct and indirect accounts, Abu Valid recounts that he knew that ISIS killed at least 13 people who “were innocent of those charges.” Abu Valid explains that, “ISIS would never vacate a place leaving behind an opponent alive or someone who knows anything about the reality of [ISIS]. So [ISIS] wanted to liquidate everyone.” 

Abu Valid was aware of secret collaboration between ISIS and Bashar al Assad’s government. “There was an agreement and a truce with the Syrian regime,” he states. “[ISIS] would leave the area and get what in return? I don’t know.”

Abu Valid’s video ends with his conclusion, “ISIS is not righteous. It doesn’t have anything to do with Islam.”

Discussion Questions:

What do you feel watching this video?

Do you believe that Abu Valid is telling the truth about his experiences in ISIS?

What do you think of ISIS forcing FSA fighters to join their ranks or be killed?

Do you believe that ISIS was able to lure some FSA fighters into its ranks given it was a well-resourced organization(i.e. best-equipped, financed, motivated to spread its territory, appearing religious in nature, etc.), if not the most resourced organization at the time?

What do you think of Abu Valid’s claim of ISIS making business and political deals with Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s government?

What do you think the advantages were for each party in these dealings, if they in fact happened?

Do you believe ISIS created an Islamic State?  Why or why not?

Islamic Scriptures Related to this Video

Hurting people cannot be justified in Islam, it is against shariah law. The Quran and Sunnah forbid hurting animals, so how could anyone justify hurting a human being? Likewise, prison sentences are not normally meted out under shariahlaw as Islam favors direct punishments that teach the offender and are immediately over. Torture of a prisoner, of course, is never permitted. Allah said: “If you punish, let your punishment be proportionate to the punishment you received. But if you are patient, it is better for the patient. Be patient; yet your patience is only by the help of Allah.” Surah al-Nahl (the bees), Ayah No. 126-127. The Prophet (PBUH) was known for his deep patience and his loathing to punish.  Often he sent offenders who attempted to confess to him away to reconsider the confession and simply change their lives for the better without ever being punished. Lastly, in Islam, it is considered unjust to punish innocent people for the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Beware of the prayer of the maltreated, for that prayer has no veil to reach Allah”, this means that the unjust should be careful, as Allah is the defender of the maltreated and he will certainly know of their maltreatment.

Transcript of Revenge in the Islamic Statevideo:

Revenge in the Islamic State

ABU VALID

Former ISIS Soldier

22-year-old Syrian

One of the guys who was affiliated with [ISIS],

he was standing next to the emir. He knew one of the people with me.

This guy wanted to marry the sister of the guy I know.

He wanted to marry her even before the war started.

He proposed many times, but the family rejected him many times.

He even proposed during the war and the siege.

The rejection came from her brother and from the whole family.

So he found a good opportunity for revenge.

TEXT: Abu Valid saw the ISIS soldier take revenge on the man while they were both imprisoned by ISIS.

He used various ways [for revenge]. He used to isolate him and flog him.

He used to cuss at him. It scared us all.

TEXT: After some time, Abu Valid was taken before an ISISshariahjudge, a foreign fighter.

TEXT: The ISIS judge promised to re-unite Abu Valid with his family, if he would identify the hiding place of a Free Syrian Army commander in order to kill him.

The foreign [judge] came, and I told him, ‘I don’t know those people.’

‘I just heard about them but I never met them. I’m from Deir ez-Zor. Those people are from FSA.’

‘The whole city is [from al-Sham].’

‘The citizens of the city are from there, but I am originally from the east side of Syria.’ 

‘I only live there.’

‘So I don’t know them. The other people who are with me might know them, but I don’t.’

‘Confess and tell us where they are,’ [he said]. ‘When did you last see them?’

‘You should tell us the truth, [otherwise] your fate is to be beheaded.’

TEXT: ISIS tortured and threatened Abu Valid and the other Free Syrian Army captives with death if they didn’t join ISIS.  

TEXT: ISIS also tried to test Abu Valid by demanding that he denounce his former, beloved FSA commander.

It turned out that the [ISIS] judge knew where the commander was.

He knew where he was, but he was just testing us to see if we knew his location.

But how would I know?

TEXT: Abu Valid worried that ISIS would execute him and the others.

While he was gone for 2.5 months, they killed about 13 people.

And, we knew very well that those people were innocent of those charges,

but ISIS would never vacate a place leaving behind an opponent alive or someone who knows anything about the reality of [ISIS].

So [ISIS] wanted to liquidate everyone.  

TEXT: Abu Valid learned about secret ISIS collaboration with Bashar al Assad’s government.

There was an agreement and a truce with the Syrian regime.

[ISIS] would leave the area and get what in return? I don’t know.

ISIS is not righteous. It doesn’t have anything to do with Islam.

The Truth Behind the Islamic State

Sponsored by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism

            www.ICSVE.org

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 https://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.

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