The woman told aid workers it was an accident. Her 14-year-old daughter had slipped and fallen, she said. There was nothing they could have done. But the body told a different story. The girl’s neck had been broken in three places, doctors said, and she died with eyes open, biting her lips and struggling to breathe. Photos and medical records suggested she had been beaten about the torso, then strangled. It was murder, not a misstep, the Washington Post writes.
The teen, an Azerbaijani girl who had lived until earlier this year with her mother under the Daesh’s rule, had run afoul of the die-hard ISIS adherents who have come in the past few months to dominate parts of the al-Hol displacement camp here in northeastern Syria, according to camp residents. They said she had suggested dispensing with her black niqab, the face covering worn by ultraconservative Muslim women.
Half a year after the territorial defeat of Daesh, the vast sprawl of tents at the al-Hol camp is becoming a cauldron of radicalization. About 20,000 women and 50,000 children who had lived under the caliphate are held in dire conditions at the camp, which is operated and guarded by 400 U.S.-supported Kurdish troops.
With the men of ISIS imprisoned elsewhere, the women inside the fences of al-Hol are reimposing the militant group’s strictures, enforcing them upon those deemed impious with beatings and other brutality and extending what residents and camp authorities call a reign of fear, Washington Post highlights.
Several guards have been stabbed by women who concealed kitchen knives in the folds of their robes. Women are threatened for being in contact with lawyers who might get them out of the camp or for speaking with other outsiders. A pregnant Indonesian woman was murdered, medical officials say, apparently after speaking to a Western media organization. Images of her body suggest she might have been whipped.
“It’s happening at night and it’s happening in the shadows, but no one informs on who did it,” said a senior member of the camp’s intelligence department. “They’re afraid of each other here.”
Fourteen people with direct knowledge of camp conditions described in interviews the mounting anger, violence and fanaticism growing amid the squalor. These people, including camp residents, aid workers and Kurdish officials, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of security concerns, the Post adds.
Kurdish security officials, affiliated with the U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), say they have the troops to guard the facility but do little else. “We can contain the women, but we can’t control their ideology,” the intelligence official said. “There are many types of people here, but some of them were princesses among ISIS. There are spaces inside the camp that are like an academy for them now.”
In a report last month, the Defense Department’s inspector general, citing information from the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS, warned that the SDF’s inability to provide more than “minimal security” at the camp has allowed for the “uncontested” spread of ISIS ideology there. In some places, children, including an estimated 20,000 born in the caliphate, are literally a captive audience.