By Abdulrahman al-Rashed
3 March 2015
One Arab writer argues that the three British schoolgirls of Asian origin - Kadiza, Shamima and Amira - who left their homes and sneaked into Syria to join the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are victims of negative propaganda.
He writes that it is slanderous to describe the girls’ journey as “sexual jihad,” the aim of which is to distort the reputation of jihad! He then quotes ISIS’s statement that girls can establish a “perfect family” and life, and that the organization will grant them free housing and this is why a 15-year-old girl leaves her house in Manchester and goes to Raqqah in Syria!
Of course it is naive to believe this narrative of a “perfect family” amid the destruction in Syria and the immoralities of ISIS beasts. I do not know if it is more important to clean up the language of the news of these shameful and embarrassing terms such as “sexual jihad,” or if we have to deal with the reality of an unprecedented phenomenon whereby dozens of teenage girls leave their parents’ homes to join battlefields.
If we deal with the situation and describe it as it is, we see young girls with young men who take up arms and brag about their relations with these girls, some of whom have been raped for being “infidels” or captives. Numerous videos are proof of these shameful crimes. We know of tens - some say thousands - of women who left their homes in the Gulf, Morocco, Tunisia, Europe and the United States to join ISIS in Syria and Al-Qaeda in Iraq before that.
Any observer can thus conclude that the aim of these fighters is to control women and use them within the context of war pleasures and tools. Strange cases have been documented on the matter. One is that of a Saudi woman who, during the U.S. occupation of Iraq, divorced her husband and agreed with an Al-Qaeda member to smuggle her and her two children to Syria and then to Iraq.
Her aim, as she conveyed it via the internet, was to meet her role-model Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who led Al-Qaeda in Iraq and whose teachings inspired ISIS after he was killed. Although security forces arrested her during her first attempt to leave Saudi Arabia, she later succeeded via Yemen.
She went to Syria then Iraq, where she met Zarqawi and married him for a few days before he divorced her. Another jihadist married her, and then a third. She was later killed in a military raid in Baghdad. DNA tests revealed that a son who was thought to be conceived by one of her later husbands, who was caught in Afghanistan, was actually Zarqawi’s.
There are many cases of such lost women who were deceived by preachers or recruited via the internet to join fighting organizations in Syria. At the beginning, many commentators said these stories were lies because they were unreasonable. Some said they were part of a propaganda war aimed at distorting the reputation of militant groups there.
However, there is no longer any doubt as there is documented evidence, including videos and information from parents who report their daughters missing. It is thus a must to deal with these facts.
These gatherings of young fighters consider that getting women, whether through the areas they seize or through voluntary recruitment, is only for the purpose of marriage. In fact, it is not marriage in its traditional meaning, but exploitation of young girls. Militants themselves have described it as “sexual jihad.”
Given news of ISIS fighters’ scandals regarding women - either by enslaving them or marrying them - some are trying to cleanse the reputation of what is described as “modern jihad.” They do so by saying news of atrocities committed by ISIS are lies, that videos of such atrocities are fake, and that “sexual jihad” is also a fabrication. The aim is to embellish ISIS crimes.
How is it possible to establish a “perfect family” in a war zone, and how would ISIS grant women a home in areas where most houses are destroyed? None of this makes sense, and no sane person would accept it.
We have seen footage of men dragging women like sheep, humans being burnt to death, women and children slain in Iraq, and Egyptian Copts executed in Libya. All this falls within the context of fulfilling the pleasure of murder.
How can we believe that these criminals will establish perfect families with these teenage girls who were deceived into joining them?
The truth is clear: these girls have been recruited for the sake of pleasure, not to fight or to establish perfect families.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.