The loud knock on the family’s farmhouse door was at midnight as they got ready for bed. Outside, five Islamic State fighters, Kalashnikovs hung on their shoulders and faces hidden by black scarves, were searching for girls to kidnap.
‘We opened the door and they saw my wife’s teenage sisters Sabiha and Sajida. The fighters told us they were going to steal them because they were beautiful,’ says Kafi Osman, anger still burning in his eyes at the memory.
‘We cried and the girls wept as they were led outside and driven away in an open truck. We have heard nothing of them since.’
The girls’ kidnap in the northern Iraqi town of Makhmur came as jihadis from Islamic State (also known as IS and Isis) took control of it street by street. They beheaded men, raped women and then captured their trophies of war — virgins to be sex slaves or jihadi brides.
The Osman family now believe that Sabiha, 18, and Sajida, 16, are prostitutes in Raqqa, a seven-hour drive across the Iraqi border in Syria and the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed capital, awash with jihadi fighters.
It is a place of medieval barbarism, terror, torture, abuse and odious controls over the 100,000 women who live there. Some women are trapped in the city against their will.
They did not escape before IS marched in two years ago, building a Sharia court on the football pitch and imposing a regime where grisly public executions take place by stoning and crucifixion in the main square after mosque prayers on a Friday.
Others are radicalised jihadi brides from the West, including three pupils from Bethnal Green, East London, who were pictured last week walking in the town with a woman minder in a burka holding a Kalashnikov.
The third group of women are the unfortunates kidnapped in enemy territory by IS fighters, taken to Raqqa, and imprisoned in a life of sex slavery.
Whatever the reason for living in this hellish place, all women are prohibited from going outside or travelling without a male relative. Islamic State imposes a strict dress code demanding all females from puberty upwards wear two gowns to hide their body shape, black gloves to cover their hands, and three veils so their faces cannot be seen, even in direct sunlight.
Women have been publicly buried alive in sand for breaking the code. One former Syrian schoolteacher trapped in the city told Channel 4 in a documentary, Escape From Isis, to be aired next week: ‘We have no freedom. We cannot go out on the balcony or look through the window. They will arrest a woman if she wears perfume or raises her voice. A woman’s voice cannot be heard.’
The teacher told of her horrifying capture by the city’s ruthless all-women police unit, the Al-Khansa brigade, created to enforce IS rules. ‘They said my eyes were visible through my veil. I was tortured. They lashed me. Now some of them punish women by biting. They give you the option between getting bitten or lashed.’
As many as 60 British women, including Aqsa Mahmood, the 20-year-old Glaswegian woman who left her family to become an Islamic State apparatchik last year, are thought to be members of the brigade. They are paid up to £100 a month, a fortune in the Islamic State bad-lands.
One former Al-Khansa enforcer, a young Syrian woman called Umm Abaid, told the filmmakers how she had led a normal life until the arrival of IS and the imposition of Sharia law in Raqqa, once a cosmopolitan city where the sexes mixed freely.
‘I went to school, to coffee shops,’ she said, ‘but slowly, slowly my husband [a Saudi Arabian IS fighter killed in a suicide bomb attack] convinced me about Islamic State and its ideas. I joined the brigade and was responsible for enforcing the clothing regulations.
‘Anyone who broke the rules, we would lash. Then we would take her male guardian, her brother, father or husband, and lash him, too.
‘Even when I was off duty, if I was with my husband in the car and we saw a woman dressed wrong, he would stop and tell me to deal with her.
‘I remember one woman walking with her husband wearing a robe with images on it. We arrested her and took her to the Al-Khansa base. I lashed her with my own hands.’
Umm fled to Turkey after IS tried to force her to remarry within weeks of her husband blowing himself up.
The terrifying brigade even stops buses to check women passengers. If one is found breaking the code, all the passengers are forced to get off and the bus is refused permission to proceed. The driver can be lashed because he let the woman on board.
Some of the Al-Khansa members operate undercover, posing as housewives, mingling in the crowds to listen for any dissent.
They also run brothels where kidnapped girls, like Sabiha and Sajida, are expected to satisfy fighters returning from battle. Those who have escaped, by a miracle, say they have slept with 100 different fighters in a few weeks.
Even girls who have gone willingly to Raqqa, thinking they were going to marry one fighter, have found they are expected to spend a week with their new ‘spouse’ before they are ‘divorced’ by an Islamic cleric and married to another fighter for a week.
And so the marriage merry-go-round goes on.
Yet, incredibly, still more Muslim girls and women from Europe, and notably the UK, are arriving in Raqqa to join IS. What can possibly induce them to run away to join its ranks?
Read more: dailymail.co.uk
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