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

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora