On August 3, 2014, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), under the notorious leadership of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi attacked and captured Sinjar area in northern Iraq, which has been a Kurdish-controlled town predominantly inhabited by Yazidis. During this attacks, Yazidis in Iraq were subjected to cruel massacre, abuse, kidnapping, murders, theft, rape, land grabbing, burning and demolition of houses, selling of women and children, and forceful religious conversion of youths. One of the most significant part of the ISIL or later Islamic State (ISIS) notoriety that had missed the attention of the media. And that is, Iranian regime, from the very beginning of the emergence of ISIL or ISIS were playing the role of backers and patrons, as the Iranian mullah regime saw Islamic State as an effective tool in terrorizing the Middle Eastern nations as well as Iran’s key enemies, the Western nations.
Yazidis, an ethnoreligious minority group of about 550,000 people, mostly reside in northern Iraq, an area also populated by Kurds and Arabs.
ISIS regards the Yazidis as “devil worshippers” who must either renounce their religious views or die.
According to international organizations, ISIS was responsible for the killing and abduction of roughly 9,900 Yazidis and destroying 68 Yazidi shrines in 2014.
When the terrorist group entered the Yazidi ancestral city of Sinjar on Aug. 3, 2014, they murdered roughly 5,000 men and boys and enslaved thousands of women and children.
Islamic State was not only targeting Yazidis in Iraq and the Middle East, they also had targeted Yazidis, including children from other nations. According to Daily Beast report, two weeks after she was rescued from alleged ISIS supporters in a camp in Northern Syria, a little girl who was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, explained that she was all alone in the world—and knew nothing of her parents.
“I only know that my mom died, and my dad died,” the girl, Aminah, said in an American accent. Her little face is inscrutable, like a mask hiding the trauma of being the sole survivor of an aerial bombardment that killed her mother, at least one of her little brothers, and another of her stepfather’s wives.
Ellie Hall from BuzzFeed News discovered that Aminah had been rescued from Camp Roj, located in Northeast Syria, and alerted the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE). The rescue operation was launched after a tipoff received by ICSVE adviser and former Ambassador Peter Galbraith, who has been working to repatriate ISIS family members for years. One of the women he is helping return to Canada had told him that an American child was languishing in the camp, in the care of a group of women still loyal to ISIS.
BuzzFeed News reported that Aminah’s birth certificate shows that she is 8 years old, but the girl says she is 6, perhaps demonstrating the way that time has blurred for her since 2014, when her mother, Ariel Bradley, a U.S. citizen, traveled to join ISIS’s so-called Caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Bradley’s Iraqi husband was living in Sweden before taking the family with him back to the Middle East to join ISIS.
At some point after that, Bradley remarried to an Australian doctor after her first husband died. Aminah later fell into the custody of one of her stepfather’s other wives, after her mother was killed in what was likely a coalition airstrike, according to BuzzFeed News.
Amina was unresponsive when asked if she could understand Arabic, and clearly preferred to speak in English. She said she did not go to school in the camp, a result of the alleged ISIS stepmother’s efforts to hide the American child from the Kurdish guards at the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)-run camps in Northeast Syria. On July 17, SDF soldiers raided and safely brought Aminah out of an enclave in Camp Roj. Such operations have been dangerous in the past, as the ISIS women are often armed with cooking knives, and many have been violent in the camps.
Earlier this year, another young Albanian girl whom ICSVE had been working to repatriate from al Hol went into hiding rather than accept repatriation efforts. Another detainee said the girl had been threatened by an ISIS enforcer inside the camp who said she would be killed before she could be rescued if she accepted repatriation.
While Yazidis continue to suffer from the nightmare of ISIS atrocities, years after the so-called defeat of the jihadist group, with the latest news about rise of jihadists outfits flexing muscle in Afghanistan and Iranian proxies Hezbollah, Houthis and Hamas signaling of fresher war against the non-Muslims, situation in the Middle East in particular may turn extremely dangerous in the coming days.
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