News / Middle East

    Islamic State Widow Shames IS Leaders

    FILE - Militants with the Islamic State group are seen after placing their group's flag on a hilltop at the eastern side of the town of Kobani, Syria.
    FILE - Militants with the Islamic State group are seen after placing their group's flag on a hilltop at the eastern side of the town of Kobani, Syria.

    The widow of an Islamic State fighter has voiced rare open criticism of the terror group's leaders, complaining about the treatment of the widows and families of dead fighters. Her protest letter, posted online, has been circulated widely on pro-IS social media sites.

    Criticism of IS leaders is seldom expressed in public forums by followers of the group. Critics are labeled murtads (apostates) and dissenters receive harsh treatment, including whippings, torture, and are often executed.

    The woman calling herself al-Muhajirahm, apparently a Westerner, laments the meager support given to some widows.

    “Imagine that you’ve helped a sister who requested zakat [charity] two days ago, but you have ignored the sister who has been waiting a month before,” she writes. “She cries every night, concerned about how to feed her children as her husband is martyred. The tears that roll down her cheeks and the pain she suffers will be something you will be asked about and accountable for,” she adds.

    The letter, titled, "A Reminder to the Leaders of the Islamic State," was first posted January 27 on JustPaste.it, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a Washington-based group that monitors jihadist online activity.
     
    “Such criticism is almost never found in such a widely circulated document,” says Anat Agron, a MEMRI researcher. “In the past, IS members have publicly criticized aspects of life in the Islamic State, however, normally such posts were swiftly deleted.”

    IS hypocrisy

    Some male deserters from the terror group recently cited the treatment of IS widows as an example of IS hypocrisy. They expressed disgust to academics from the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism, a U.S.-based research group, about how widows were often forced to marry other fighters quickly after their husbands had been killed in battle.

    “In the case of widows of IS fighters up for remarriage, our informants stated that IS does not follow the normal Sharia practice of iddah - having the widow wait for a period of four months and 10 days to ensure that she was not pregnant by her former husband,” write researchers Anne Speckhard and Ahmet Yayla, in a report the two published in the journal Perspectives on Terrorism in December.

    “Instead, IS widows are expected to remarry quickly, a practice that serves the needs of IS cadres who are often single and sexually motivated.” Iddah is considered also a woman’s right, allowing her time to grieve.

    Women as currency

    Women are used as currency by IS. Foreign and Syrian male recruits are told they will be given wives as well as homes and money. That can be a major motivation for joining, analysts and anti-IS activists say, especially for young men from impoverished communities in North Africa.

    Three Syrian women from Raqqa, considered the de facto capital of the terror group, told The New York Times last year that they fled to Turkey at great risk because they realized they were in effect being treated as sex slaves and rebelled at being forced to marry strangers soon after losing husbands from earlier arranged marriages.

    The women — given the pseudonyms Aws, Dua and Asma by The New York Times for their protection — said they had bartered their lives and agreed to marry in the first place for the benefit of their families and to secure better standards of living.

    Just 10 days after the husband of the woman called Dua was killed on a suicide mission, “Another man from her husband’s unit came to the house. He told Dua she could not stay home alone and would need to marry again, immediately,” according to the paper.

    In her Justpaste.it letter, al-Muhajirah warns IS leaders: “Everything that happens to your subjects is something that you will be questioned about on the Day of Judgement.” She says, “Every wife of a shahid [martyr] from your battalion is under your care...Fear Allah in the way you cater for her needs. She is your responsibility and all her needs now rest on your shoulder…This is your trust, she is under your care, so do not abandon her.”

    She goes on to quote ideologue Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian Islamist theorist respected by jihadist groups. “Sayyid Qutb said, ‘To abandon the duties Allah has assigned to the Muslim community is betrayal of Allah and His Messenger.’”

    A former IS cadre now in the southern Turkey town of Urfa, who asked not be identified, told VOA that the terror bosses may well be withholding charity from widows who are refusing or delaying remarriage. “This is a way to force them to do so — starve or marry,” he said.

    Financial problems

    Because of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, IS may be struggling financially — another possible underlying reason for insufficient support of widows. According to leaked internal documents from inside IS territory, the group has had to slash the salaries of fighters by half.

    An order issued by the terror group’s treasury, and translated last month by Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, an analyst at the Middle East Forum, an American think tank, announced the cuts.

    “On account of the exceptional circumstances the Islamic State is facing, it has been decided to reduce the salaries that are paid to all mujahideen by half, and it is not allowed for anyone to be exempted from this decision, whatever his position.”

    Al-Muhajirah's criticism comes as rifts within the group appear to be on the rise in territory controlled by the terror group in neighboring Iraq.

    IS internal security cadres Tuesday raided the office of the taxation department in the city of Mosul, in the province of Nineveh, and shot dead its head, Saleh Ahmed al-Jabouri, and three of his guards. Media activist Abdullah al-Malla told the independent local ARA News that it wasn’t clear whether the slayings were carried out on orders from IS leaders.

    “Killing al-Jabouri reflects the growing rifts in the ranks of IS,” al-Malla said.

    There were also local news reports recently that IS publicly beheaded 20 of its own militants after they were caught fleeing the battle lines in Nineveh.
     

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora