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The Punishments Of The Islamic State

The Punishments of the Islamic State

Anne Speckhard & Ardian Shajkovci

The Punishments of the Islamic State is the 63rd counter narrative video in the ICSVE Breaking the ISIS Brand series. 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. 

In this video clip, Ibn Ahmed details the many brutal punishments that ISIS carried out in his area, including that of three older men brought in to the Islamic State’s courtroom in Raqqa.  “[They were] in their fifties. They didn’t even look like they could carry a rifle,” Ibn Ahmed recalls. “They were being punished. I asked the other [ISIS] guys why they were there. They trusted me, so they told me that these men’s sons were fighting with the Free Syrian Army (FSA).” Ibn Ahmed remembers thinking to himself, “that it wasn’t their fault, and I walked away. Later on, they beheaded them and hung them in the town square. They took photos [of their bodies] and spread them around, only because their sons were Free Syrian Army.”

Ibn Ahmed tells the story of a poor village man who approached a well-fed ISIS emir asking for help to feed his family. “He went to the emir of finance in another village and told him, ‘We’re starving and have nothing,’” Ibn Ahmed recalls. Refusing to offer any assistance, “the [ISIS] emir answered him, ‘The Prophet [Muhammed] used to tightly tie a stone to his stomach and the hunger pains would go away. Why don’t you try that? Allah be with you.’ The old man headed home with tears in his eyes,” Ibn Ahmed recounts.

“I remember one day there was a truck that was going to Iraq through Tartus [in Syria],” Ibn Ahmed states about another horrific incident. “It had six passengers. [ISIS] stopped them at a checkpoint. [The ISIS guys]asked them where they were from. [The drivers] said, ‘We are from Latakia and we’re going to Iraq carrying cargo.’” Ibn Ahmed notes the corrupt dealings that ISIS had with Bashar al Assad’s government; that is, that  ISIS was selling wheat that was transported by similar trucks to the Syrian regime. 

“They were asked to get out of the vehicle and asked if they pray. They said they did,” Ibn Ahmed recalls. Then, Ibn Ahmed describes, a fight broke out, namely, “[The ISIS guys] asked how many times a day they prayed. There was a conflict. They put all six of them on the highway median, then shot and killed them. A car came to take their bodies and [the ISIS guys] stole their truck.” 

Ibn Ahmed, like many of the 101 ISIS cadres ICSVE researchers have interviewed, suffers from the horrors he saw inside ISIS. “I try not to think about [my time in ISIS]. It’ll drive me crazy,” Ibn Ahmed recounts, adding, “I try to forget, even though a nightmare is so difficult to forget. You can’t forget.” 

Discussion Questions:

What do you feel after 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 describing?

What do you think of the ISIS practice of executing fathers because their sons joined the Free Syrian Army?  Should a family member ever be punished for what his or her relative has done?

Do you believe Ibn Ahmed’s reference to the story about the old man only served  to tell the old man to tie a stone around his belly as the Prophet (PBUH) did or was a condemnation of ISIS’s selfish treatment of local populations?

Do you believe Ibn Ahmed is still suffering from posttraumatic recall of his time in ISIS?

What do you believe can be done to help defectors from ISIS recover from their time in the group and to make reparations for the horrors in which they took part? 

Islamic Scriptures Related to this Video

Manipulating an Ayah or a Hadith to go along with your wrong understandings is regarded as a sin, for it is similar to alleging that the Prophet (PBUH) said something, which he has not. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Whoever said a hadith knowing that it is falsified, then he would have a guaranteed seat in hell. 

The hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) putting a stone on his stomach to deal with hunger (Musnad Ahmed, No. 14249) is a hadith which tells us that the Prophet (PBUH)  and his companions and everybody was suffering hunger, and the Prophet (PBUH) putting that stone means that the leader of the nation is suffering the same conditions of his people, unlike ISIS who were eating and drinking the best types of foods while their people were suffering starvation. 

Punishing someone for something which another one made is also a great sin in Islam, as Allah says in the Quran: “Every soul earns only to its account no soul shall bear another’s burden.” Surah al-An’aam (the cattle), Ayah No. 164.

Timed transcript of Punishments of the Islamic Statevideo:

The Punishments of Islamic State

0:02     In the name of Allahthe Most Graciousthe Most Merciful.

0:05     One day, I was about to leave on my motorcycle. There were three older men brought in. 

0:15     [They were] in their fifties. They didn’t even look like they could carry a rifle. 

0:18     They were being punished. I asked the other [ISIS] guys why they were there. 

0:25     IBN AHMED

Former ISIS Soldier

19– year-old Syrian

They trusted me so they told me that these men’s sons were fighting with the Free Syrian Army. 

0:33     I said to myself that it wasn’t their fault and I walked away. 

0:39     Later on, they beheaded them and hung them in the town square. 

0:45     They took photos [of their bodies] and spread them around,

0:49     only because their sons were Free Syrian Army. 

0:54     Another older man had ten members in his family. He was in a poor state. 

1:01     He went to the emir of finance in another village 

1:06     and told him, ‘We’re starving and have nothing.’ 

1:11     The [ISIS] emir answered him, ‘The Prophet [Muhammed] used to 

1:13     tightly tie a stone to his stomach and the hunger pains would go away. 

1:15     Why don’t you try that? Allah be with you.’ 

1:16     The old man headed home with tears in his eyes.

1:21     I remember one day there was a truck that was going to Iraq through Tartus [in Syria]. 

1:27     It had six passengers. [ISIS] stopped them at a checkpoint.

1:34     [The ISIS guys]asked them where they were from.

1:38     [The drivers] said, ‘We are from Latakia and we’re going to Iraq carrying cargo.’ 

1:44     They were asked to get out of the vehicle and asked if they pray. They said they did. 

1:50     [The ISIS guys] asked how many times a day they prayed. There was a conflict. 

1:54     They put all six of them on the highway median, then shot and killed them. 

1:58     A car came to take their bodies and [the ISIS guys] stole their truck. 

2:03     Ibn Ahmed said wheat on such trucks ended up being sold to the Syrian regime in Latakia.

2:07     He suffers to this day from the horrors he saw inside ISIS.

2:11     I try not to think about [my time in ISIS]. It’ll drive me crazy. 

2:22     I try to forget even though a nightmare is so difficult to forget. 

2:25     You can’t forget. 

2:28 The Truth Behind the Islamic State

2:31     Sponsored by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism www.ICSVE.org

2:36     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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