Twisted fates

Three former members of ISIS’s morality police recount their experiences in Raqqa

Aws, Bua, and Asma lived in Raqqa, Syria as part of a generation of Syrian women living more independent lives than ever before. But after ISIS took control of the city in 2014, foreign fighters flooded in and the local Syrians found themselves reduced to second-class citizens. Aws and Bua, who are second cousins, were approached by foreign fighters for marriage and accepted for their families’ sakes. Inspired by their new husbands, they would later join the morality police. Asma, who had many relatives working for ISIS already, joined the morality police without coercion, in search of greater autonomy.

Soon the women found themselves witnessing executions and enforcing brutal whippings for improper attire, sometimes on women they knew. Amsa, who missed her former freedoms terribly, spent her free time with the blinds closed watching TV between intermittent blackouts, and listening to Evanescence on her phone. She eventually escaped to Turkey with the help of a friend from within ISIS.

Dua and Aws were somewhat content, at least in their marriages. But their husbands went on to complete suicide missions, and within days of their husbands’ deaths ISIS officials demanded they remarry. Seeking to escape remarriage, Dua utilized connections in Turkey to facilitate her escape. Four months later, Aws would contact Dua for help planning her own escape. The three women currently reside in a city in Southern Turkey, where they take language classes in English and Turkish.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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