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May 13, 2020 69 mins

Robert, Jake and Khabat interview ISIS brides and their victims in an attempt to understand how Rojava's utopian dreams can co-exist with the brutal realities of terrorism and justice.

Music: "Bella Ciao" by Astronautalis (feat. Subp Yao & Rickolus)

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to the Women's War, a production of I Heart Radio.
It's July two thousand nineteen, and I'm celebrating the end
of our journey in Rojava by getting a tattoo. Since
arriving in Rojava, I've been surprised by the number of

(00:21):
tattooed folks that I've met. On our first full day
out in kamiche Law, I asked a heavily inked a
Sayish Man for his artists contact information. Kabat called and
set the whole thing up, and so the day after
our visit to the y p J training base, we
headed back to Kamichlow to meet my man Jake, and
I had kind of expected that this would be our
last hurrah in Rojava. We had originally planned to spend
this day visiting Al Hole, the refugee camp slash prison

(00:44):
camp for Isis wives, but that fell through and A
Kabat wasn't sure if it would be possible at all.
With no more work to do, I felt like getting
a tattoo in Rojava would be a worthwhile experience, and
I was right. It turns out there aren't a lot
of tattoo artists in this part of the world. And
the guy that SI each officers set us up with
was the same person who did all the ink for
the y A t or anti terror units the YPG

(01:06):
Special Forces. These folks are the equivalent of Rojava's Navy seals,
and most of them were trained by elite U S
troops to carry out surgical strikes against Isis are contact today.
The guy who's going to take us up to meet
the artist is a soldier in the y A t.
Alon parks his van in the middle of a neighborhood
in Comichelo, surrounded by tall, blocky apartment buildings, and we
wait for our contact to arrive. A van pulls up.

(01:29):
It's similar to Alan's, but newer and festooned with stickers
bearing the face of a de la augelon on its
front and rear. The driver has a fluffy mustache and
tattoos covering his arms and hands. He is easily the
most heavily inked person I have seen in Rojava. His
most prominent tattoo is an M four assault rifle on
his forearm. Oh my god, Chabbat says with a laugh,
he looks like a mafia guy. We park next to

(01:52):
each other outside a nondescript apartment building and we all
shuffle out of our vehicles. The y A T Man
is tall, well built, and wears a glock nineteen strapped
to his hip. He leads us up the stairs and
towards his artist's apartment, and while he does we talk.
He informs me that he got his very first tattoo
in two thousand eleven after being arrested by the Assad
regime for lighting a police car on fire. He spent

(02:13):
three years incarcerated. The artist's apartment is about seven flights up.
It's the only finished home on that floor. The doorway
leading to what would be his neighbor's place is unfinished
and the empty hole is filled with old debris. It
looks like whoever was constructing this building stopped when they
were about eighty percent done and never came back to
finish it. The artist's apartment is nice, though, a simple
and comfortable one bedroom. He has a PlayStation and some

(02:35):
controllers in front of a TV, a swamp cooler, and
a couple of empty beer bottles, surrounded by three floor
level couches that line the walls of the room. He
hands me his phone with his Facebook page loaded up
and I skimmed through dozens of pictures of the other
tattoos he's given. A striking number of them featured devout
Christian imagery. He tells me that a lot of his
customers are local Armenian Christians. There's also a lot of
militant imagery tattoos that would not have looked out of

(02:57):
place in an American legion. Meeting bloody, grizzly bear claw,
soaring eagles, a hanged man, numerous rifles, handguns, and knives.
Our special Forces friend points out his favorite tattoo on
his left arm, of a V for victory sign superimposed
over a Kurdish flag. He rolls up his sleeve and
shows me a very surprising tattoo, an enormous tenage tall
depiction of an American sergeant's rank chevrons. As a member

(03:20):
of the y a t he trained and fought alongside
American soldiers. The marine he worked with the most was
a sergeant, and he got this tattoo to honor his friend.
This soldier will remain the only person I speak with
in Rojava with thoroughly pro American convictions. He considers U
S soldiers to be his friends and battle buddies, and
he deeply admires them. He does not think the United
States will pull out of Rojava, likely because he can't

(03:43):
imagine the soldiers he fought alongside abandoning him. I spent
a large part of this trip debating with myself about
what tattoo to get. In the end, I settled with
something simple, the words bahladan Gianni on my right shoulder.
It means resistance is life, and it's the closest thing
to a national motto this non nation has. I'm not
an expert on tattoo guns, but I have received a

(04:04):
number of tattoos over my life, and my artist's tool
looks new or at least well cared for. His ink
is high quality, and it stood up well over the
course of the last year. At least, he tells me
he has it smuggled in from regime controlled Syria. The
only part of the procedure that's less professional than the
experience you'd have over in the United States is the
fact that he cuts a hole in a cigarette packet
and wedges the cap of a water bottle in there

(04:25):
to use as an ink reservoir. I don't get an infection,
so clearly he took the precautions he needed. Once the
needling starts, Kabbat is fascinated. She's never watched anyone get
a tattoo before it whirre does she finds it. Kabbat
is also clearly intrigued. We beat around ideas for tattoos

(04:47):
she might get. I suggest an illustration of the mama's,
but she says that would look too crowded. Want a
simple tattoo. That's good. And a few months after this,
Chabat will send me a picture on telegram of a
new tattoo she's gotten the name of her brother's anna.

(05:10):
Jake and I sort of expected that this tattoo would
be our last hurrah in Rojava. But later that afternoon,
while Jake and I rest on our porch, Kabat texts
us with some good news. She'd succeeded in getting permission
for us to visit al whole. After all, we would
in fact be able to tour Rojava's most infamous prison
camp and interview some of the Isis brides and turned therein.
On our first full day in country, we visited Judge

(05:31):
Amina and toured one of Rojava's Isis courts. She'd talked
a very good game about the importance forgiveness and humane
treatment of prisoners. This would be our chance to actually
observe the ground level realities of this justice system, and
it would also be potentially dangerous. Ol Hoole is an
awkward mix of refugee camp and open air prison. Thousands
of refugees from the Civil War lived there, alongside a

(05:52):
small concentration of ISIS brides and their children. These inmates
live in a separate, fenced off section of camp. Their
status is noncombatants means that they are given more leniency
than captured fighters. They're allowed to receive guests, gifts, and
even have money wired to them from ISIS supporters abroad.
It would be a mistake to see these women as
less devoted to the dreams of the caliphate than they're

(06:12):
mostly dead husbands. Two weeks before our arrival, and ISIS
bride stabbed an assage guard in the back with a
smuggled in knife. Photos of the wounded man in the
hospital infirmary with a blade shutting out of his shoulder
went viral in the global media. Every new week brought
stories of stabbings, attempted stabbings, and mass stone throwing. By
ISIS prisoners against their guards. We woke up on the

(06:33):
morning of July excited and a little bit nervous to
see the reality for ourselves. Kabat and Alan picked us
up early in the morning, and as we downed coffee
and started our drive, I talked with Kabat about the news.
Did you hear the news yesterday about what Rada one said? Uh,
just that he was gonna like, regardless of what happened

(06:54):
with the negotiations over the borders of the Turkish Army,
was gonna wipe the IPG off the map. Essentially, she
means that he's welcome to try. Kabat is confident in
the ability of her friends in the SDF to protect
their home looking up at the Turkish border fence and myself,

(07:15):
I'm less certain, but Kubat's confidence in this matter is
not based on any sort of ignorance about combat. On
our drive to al Holekbat decides to show us some
footage on her phone from a project still in progress
of her embedded with the female fighters of the YPG.
It's harrowing stuff and it includes absolutely terrifying close footage
of a US air strike. It does not look like

(07:36):
the sort of footage that someone should have been able
to actually record and survive. Kabat explains to us how
she got the shot, how they get something from the already,
so we have to know we have to come of course,
you know. So I don't know, and I just want

(07:58):
to come in out of that kid on the other
side telling She tells us that she almost wasn't able
to set the shut up because the place where she
was positioning her camera was so exposed to ISAs sniper
fire that one of the YPG officers didn't want to
allow her to go out. I have a because you

(08:21):
have to sit down for a child. I have to,
as you was gonna, I have to put the camera.
I'm telling you, I will not stand. Oh I know
there is a fucking sniper. Then, I'm telling you I
was gonna just put the Camira has that I love
that I'm not here for That's the first time I've

(08:42):
heard you say fuck. We drive on through more yellow,
rolling fields, past green orchards, over burned scars, and around
small towns. Finally we reached the camp. Our whole stretches
from horizon to horizon. Seventy tho people live here. It
is in a or misplace, a refugee camp the size
of burning man. As we take it in, Jake calls

(09:05):
it the Islamic state of al Hole. Kabat replies exactly.
Jake hands me his phone and shows me an open
Telegram channel used by many of the Isis brides in
this camp. Telegram is a social media app that allows
for encrypted communication. After Facebook and Twitter successfully purged most
ISIS accounts, Telegram became a popular gathering place. The Isis

(09:25):
brides of al Hole use it to organize fundraising from
supporters abroad and to plan attacks on guards and visiting journalists.
They share pictures of homemade knives with no apparent concern
that they might be busted. Days ago, when we had
visited the Women's Economic Development Council, I had had a
little embarrassing snaffoo with my pocket knife and an assaish guard.
Since then, every time we had entered a military or
police building, Kabat had reminded me to leave my knife

(09:47):
in the car. As a lan parked the van and
we prepared to enter ol Hole, Hobat looked back at
me and said, Robert, I think it would be a
good idea for you to bring your knife. I clipped
my CRKT inside the waistban of my pants and we
hop out of our van and walk up to the
intelligence office, where the Assaysh guards at this facility do
their best to coordinate some form of security for our whole.

(10:08):
We're let into a small trailer with a desk, two couches,
and a mercifully powerful air conditioner. Two items sit on
the desk, a crude, handmade Isis flag and what looks
like a slam fire shotgun built out of PVC and tape.
Jake and I are staring at both when our first
source for the day, a young female Assayish officer, steps
into the room. She explains that the gun was built
by Isis children and has been confiscated. It was more

(10:30):
likely to have been a toy than a serious attempt
at building a weapon, but they took it anyway. The
Assaysh officer tells us that she would prefer we not
use her name, and she does not wish to be recorded,
but she agrees to talk of will abide by those terms.
This is the first time in Rojava that someone has
refused to be recorded, but her reasoning makes sense to me.
She has family in the area. Isis sleeper cells are numerous,

(10:50):
and the Isis families in l whole regularly communicate with
the outside world. The danger to her family is real,
but she herself has been the victim of violence numerous times. Here,
she pulled out her phone and shows us a picture
of an enormous human bite mark on her left arm.
Then she rolls up her sleeve and shows us the
wound itself, partly healed now but still bruised a deep
pinkish yellow. The story behind the injury is harrowing. She

(11:12):
was attacked by a mother, a little girl, and her son.
The mother shoved her to the ground, the daughter bit
down hard on her arm, while the sun grabbed a
nearby fuel can and doused her with gasoline. She managed
to flee before they could light her on fire, but
the whole experience was very traumatizing. After that, she tells
us she refused to meet with any of the families
without armed back up. Always they are beating us, she

(11:33):
tells me. She shows us pictures of wounded internees beaten
by Isis prisoners who essentially act as his Ba or
religious police inside the camp. There are murders here she
tells us, and many attempted murders. Cobbat chimes in at
this point and tells us last time we were here
it was worse than the front lines. The Assaish woman
explains that Isis flags are banned here, but pointing to

(11:54):
the flag on the desk, she informs us that the
guards find ices propaganda almost daily, much of it is
made by the children of Isis brides. Jake shakes his
head and tells her, I don't know how you tolerate this.
She responds, it is because countries don't care about this.
There are sixty four nationalities here. Every day they are
beating us. They throw rocks at us. Always we jump
in the car to protect ourselves. You cannot do anything.

(12:17):
We are obliged to drive in armored cars because they
break the windows on the regular ones. Their countries will
not take them back, so we are obliged to take
care of them. Most Western governments have washed their hands
of citizens who join the Islamic State. Their attitude is
embodied by the actions of the British government towards Shamina Biggun,
an Isis bride who had her citizenship revoked, which left

(12:37):
her and her newborn child trapped in a refugee camp
in Rojava. On March eight, two nineteen, the news broke
that her malnourished child had died in the camp. The
issue of what to do with isis Is foreign volunteers
is one of the most complex problems left in the
wake of the caliphate's collapse. It is easy to see
why Western governments would want to abandon their wayward citizens.
After all, many of them burn their passports and even

(12:59):
renounce their citizenship, but doing so leaves these people trapped
in northeast Syria, where the self administration of Rajava has
no choice but to take the best care of them
that it can. Unfortunately, their resources are scarce, and this
has led to the nightmare situation where dangerous radicalized extremists
live in the same camp as Iraqi and Syrian refugees,
blameless civilians, guilty of nothing worse than being caught up

(13:21):
by the vagaries of war. Since the Isis wives have
international supporters who donate money to them, they're able to
live relatively well, and their wealth gives them power over
the non Isis internees. They also have the benefit of
being organized, which allows them to exercise violent power over
the other groups in the camp. Our guard tells us
that she's seen Isis woman attack the Iraqi and Syrian
i d P s. Just yesterday, an Iraqi refugee was

(13:43):
beaten for not wearing a head scarf while inside her tent.
A few hours later, they burnt down the tent that
held a UNICEF school for children in the camp. Our
source describes a constant drumbeat of violence. The Caliphate's territorial
possessions have been officially destroyed in Syria, but the Islamic
state lives on in these daily acts of hate. For now,
the SDF and its assage guards have been able to

(14:05):
keep the violence in l whole from spilling outside the camp.
But everyone here knows that war with Turkey is coming,
and the chaos it brings will provide the inmates here
with opportunity. I ask our guard what she sees coming
in the future, and she tells me it is like
a nuclear bomb. It is going to explode into all
of the world. The physical material in this bomb is

(14:25):
the children of these Isis brides. Our guard explains, right now,
you can see the Isis mentality in the children. We
are not going to attack them, so they wield their
children against us. Despite this, she tells me she truly
does believe that it's possible to rehabilitate these people and
even to release them someday. But any kind of de
radicalization work in l whole is made nearly impossible by

(14:46):
the sheer volume of people here. She also expresses deep
frustration with the NGOs who come here to ostensibly offer aid.
They've provided many of the Isis brides with cell phones
and internet access in misguided attempts in misguided acts of
humanitarian compassion. A few days ago, she tells me, I
wanted to go into the camp with a captured Isis
men and a ninja. Yogai told me I should go

(15:07):
in without my gun. He treated me in Isis like
we are the same. Jake says he wishes the country's
making up the coalition would at least build a proper
prison here. If they aren't going to repatriate any of
their wayward sons and daughters, we hope, she says in response,
they don't. Her biggest frustration personally is the fact that
the Isis brides, being strict Muslims, are allowed to all

(15:28):
dress in the long black na cob with even their
faces covered by thin black cloth. This makes it much
much harder for the guards to effectively police them, since
dozens of women dressed in head to toe black cloth
are all functionally identical. One woman can throw a rock
or even slash a guard with a razor blade and
then melt back into the crowd. It's a real problem,
but the wearing of a na cob is an issue

(15:49):
of religion, and religious freedom is protected under the Roshavan Constitution.
The NGOs keep a tight watch over everything to make
sure the Asaish don't restrict the Isis brides by forcing
them to bear their faces. Every day. They are beating us,
she tells me, and if they kill me, who will
say anything. After an hour or so of talking, our

(16:13):
interview subjects arrived outside. Before we came, Kabbat had informed
the guards that we wished to interview any Isis brides
who wanted to talk. Two came forward, and we will
hear from them very soon. But before our Asaish guards
signaled for them to be let in, she gave Jake
and I a very serious talk. She wanted us to
know that these women had rights, including the right to
end the interview at any moment. If they did not
want to answer a question, we could not compel them

(16:35):
to do so. She asked if we understood, and Jake
and I said yes. Then she bid farewell and exited
the trailer. We would be allowed to conduct our interview
in total privacy, with no guards sitting in there. From America.
Trying to explain to them that we are from South America,
asked you from the Caribbean. Okay? They were like, SI

(17:01):
com com gotcha. Yeah. I was wearing a little trouble
understanding South America. Can they take all the black people
out from the interview? Is immediately surreal. Both of our
subjects are very tall and covered completely by the nakab.
We can only see their eyes and a thin sliver

(17:22):
of black skin around them. But they speak like my
Caribbean friends back in Los Angeles, the same slang, the
same speech patterns, only they're talking about their time is
willing members of one of the most violent terrorist organizations
in human history. We came with our husband's UM's here
making said we're coming here. Ra is a journey or immigration. Historically,

(17:49):
it refers to the prophet Muhammed's flight from Mecca to
Medina in order to escape persecution. ISIS followers use the
word to describe the act of fleeing their homelands for
the caliphate. Basically followed our husbands. He gave us advice,
and you just followed him. And now we're here for
four years. Four years when you came and to day

(18:10):
to me in two thousand and was there was it
your husband's that told you about this place? Did you
see like in the beak or anything like that, like
were the magic the beak? Was? Isis his premier magazine
during the group's heyday, and it frequently urged its readers
to depart the land of Shirk the decadent West to
join the Islamic State. There wasn't really much dad magazines.

(18:32):
But you know it was our husband's who was really
the once who was telling us this is what me
to actually for me when um in fourteen, I didn't
know anything about Syria. You know. My brother who happens
to be her husband, he was really athletic, he was
a world boxer. He was a lawyer, very why educated,

(18:55):
almost party guy, you know. And then after my father
got killed, my father died in my country, my family
just made this break turn around, you know, like I
don't know, like we got this wake up call, you
know he did. You don't know, really when people died,
that's when they become godly then more or less, you know.
So then we started trying to find a Slam. And
then my brother came him one day and he said

(19:17):
he's going to Syria. And I started laughing. I'm like
going awhere because you know, I dressed just like all
the Red Cross woman dress. I never worked this before,
you know, cloves, and I never wore all those things.
I was into makeup and pay persons and all these
crazy things, you know, which I still like, but um.
And then after digging up, I was trying to find
out why, what's with Syria? What's with Syria? What's with Syria?

(19:38):
And then I heard it's strick Sharia, which is what
I like because my country. Yes, it's the Islam, but
it's mixed. It's really mixed. Like one minute we see
the Muslims in the mushy, the next minute and behind
them the big truck for Carnivale and you see the
Muslims weaving that he drivel like I was kind of confused.
You know, both women were so friendly and casual. It

(20:00):
was jarring ticket reminders of what absolute hardliners they both were.
After all, who gets angry at carnival? So I said,
let me try to see what Syria is about kind
of thing, and then we opted to come to Syria,
which was in November. Why are you why I like it?
From what I understood before, it's let me see if

(20:25):
you want to if you really understand what the Islam is,
and I mean, if you really understand what it is,
I think for me, I like it. I really like it.
You know, it's balanced, it's not extreme or it's not
killing killing killing, even think it's extreme and it is
killing killing. You don't think Isis was extreme? Yes, some
parts of it I found. I wouldn't say extreme, But

(20:45):
some parts I think I expose myself to even my
children to too much violence, for example, the beheadings and
some of the stuff like that. You know, I think
it wasn't necessary for me to show my children, I thought,
And I told journalist before because I had an interview before.
I can't remember I can't remember her name. For me,

(21:05):
I found, yes, you could tell them, Okay, this is
what happens when you do so so so so so,
but I thought us I should show them balance you have,
you should have rathma, mercy. You know, it's not always
about kill, kill blood, blood blood, you know what, There
is mercy and I think that's why now when the
kaim so many children, so aggressive, even when you guys come,
they were spelt in stones and alban which I hate.

(21:27):
I really dislike it. She's expressing that she dislikes it
when other isis wives and kids throw stones at the
Sish and then the way some like how the parents
stop to their children, you know, talk when you see
them kicking? Come on? You know what? Then you wonder
what what's the purpose? What? Come on? You know? So,
But for me, Islam, whether you choose this way or
you choose that way. You're a Christian, you're a Muslim,

(21:50):
you're gay, you whatever, that's your choice, that's you, you know,
but this is just me. You stand when you arrived
in the Islamic state, how did it actually you've been
expected at the beginning, because this Islam excited at the time,
there was a caliphaith uh it it matched pretty well

(22:10):
because I wasn't really exposed to much killers. We were
in RockA and there were air strikes, but they were
really mild, so it was still very much like my country.
But on the sher it wasn't crazy. It was an
extreme then please note that an extremist may not be
the best judge of what is and is not extreme.
We had a normal life now, it was a normal life.
We had tea parties for jama parties, we had um

(22:35):
what else. Yeah, it was just it was really Addie,
I don't know, you know, really Addie Irene. That really cool,
you know, until all the bombers came. Then you got
this week up call what am I doing? Where am
I kind of thing, you know. But the beginning it
was cool, It was calm, you know. You learned the

(22:56):
day they found out a lot of things that we
taught that we were perfectly before. You learned differently when
we came here, you know. But even in the beginning
that we're hitting people in the street, in the square.
But that's the thing, we never actually saw these things,
you know what I would you not know about it.

(23:16):
You knew it existed, but we never witness yeah, like
you would see the children. I don't like these things. Really,
I knew it happened today. Then because I heard my
neighbor saying, oh, they killed somebody in the square, but
I never ran to I don't want to see it. Yes,
my that's it, my son, because he's at that time,
you know, the boys in the street, they just came
back from school. Money. I saw this man being headed today.

(23:39):
He was stung up, strong, up like this. So they
store in this place. And I saw people being stone
to that in my da but in Rapper and the
earliest I was never, I never witnessing, but I heard
about this. I knew its existed. You understand what kind
of effect do you think that had on yourself? Of
course a very violent one. You know, it was very violent.
But at the beginning we all thought it was you know,

(24:01):
we thought it was a uk. This is a punished
mind for this, and everybody's like, you know, top beer
is just the name for the one Arabic phrase every
American knows, Allahu akbar. She's saying that the trauma of
witnessing these executions turned her son into a more fervent Chihati.
Next I asked how both women wound up in the
custody of the SDF the end, and you stayed as

(24:25):
long as we possibly could. And then my son, who
is not applicating because of the house and his foot,
well it went black immediately and irustrated. Well, actually, I
don't know exactly what hit the house. Something hits it.
I think it was a power Yeah, And I stayed
in prouble two days after hoping it could get better
because Bugoos is a name that lives in infamy here.

(24:51):
It was the last territorial holdout of the Islamic state
in Syria. So something explosive hits. Two days I realized,
you know, I can't stay. I can't stay anymore, so
I did. I made a decision that I would have
to out. So I walked up. But initially a lot
of people think that, um, the people who stayed in

(25:14):
Bagos are like war mongers. They're like they send so
much hate and they love. There were actually a lot
of people who wanted to leave with the first and
second Coodna then when I opened up, but then we
saw videos and then some of the women example, and
one of my friends she said, you're going to pick

(25:36):
a gate. They rape women and they do women. There's
a lot of people who wanted to leave. They were
afraid to come here. And that's why nobody that that's
why few people left before until it got too extreme
that colors people just picked up. There's like colors going
to ram then whatever. We already exposed to whatever, you know,
So that's when people left. But I really dislike hearing
people say, oh, these back, these people, these back, these people.

(25:57):
There are some people who really wanted to leave and
were a italy because of the situation that we talked
we would have been exposed to here and did you
did you believe that as well? But like if you
were casted by the STF that it was because remember
we exposed to the Islamic safe for a very long while.
And if you see uh Kaffir or Pika king, whatever

(26:18):
you want to call them, the next thing is he
going to think they're going to abuse you automatically. And
then we're thinking, okay, the women will treat you like
this and the man's going to repe here and they
leave you to start when they leave you like so
a lot of people were afraid, what's the reality? What's
it like here? What do you care that I saw?
It wasn't like that. I would like for a situation
where we were starving to that literally starving to death,

(26:39):
and it was a massacre every day, someone next to you,
walking over someone's body, someone's hand. So here it's actually
you're living, and you know ex camel by far, it's
much there. Would you much different? Would you say the
SDF the guard to your respect, your your human rights.

(27:02):
I won't say the guards at all. I would say
red cross that I because I think once what the
Red Crosses around or Red cress Land or whoever. You
see a difference in the guards to be here when
these people are not around to monitor their actions than
the peak women shut a boy in his hands pelting stones, which,

(27:23):
as I said, I really hate, you know, but that's
not I don't think. I think that was a little drastic,
you know, shooting him in his hand. But I can
understand how how ingrediable, because I myself hate it. You know,
sometimes the wo mental children, you know pelled, they like
when the trucks are going, pell them with stones, or
pell the mustache fowl because the calf, the caffe, the caffer.

(27:44):
But if you think about it, even that is rough
from allot you know, that is almosty from allow to
be a monsa who was still treating you well, which
I think is from a lot. You know what, I
come and be killed, husband's killed this one, or you
know you family killed this will killed their parents and whatever,
and they still have more see which I think is
pellstones pelt. It doesn't make sense. And at the end

(28:06):
of the day you you pelled misstach for you all
these things and then your child end of the tomorrow.
And it was clear that both of our interviewees were
different levels of radicalized. I'm sure you've picked up on
it too. The quieter one seemed to be watching her
loquacious friend. She spoke up to let us know that
the STF guards were vicious, but quieted down while her
companion explained why it wasn't so unreasonable for a guard
to have shot a boy in the hand for pelting

(28:27):
him with rocks. She credited Allah for the mercy she
and her fellow captives experienced here, acknowledging that she and
her fellow dash He's had killed family members of many
of the guards, and that their treatment by comparison had
been gentle. It was as close to a ringing endorsement
as a prisoner of war is likely to give. In fact,
the more we talked, the clear it became that at
least one of these women feared her fellow detainees more

(28:50):
than the guards. Even how you guys picked us up.
I'm wondering if I go back home and he's sitting
coming out of the vehicle, now we're going to think
we are just so. You know, you talk to the kaffir,
and that means you told them something. And that's why
so many women are hesitant to you know, when they
see they're walking up as a direction. I'm telling you,
you know, because they don't want to be seen with
two guys because of that reason. Next thing you know,

(29:11):
you're kind is being bullied to. Your child's killed somewhere.
I should note here that kafar is an Islamic slang
term for nonbeliever. I asked next what both women wanted
for their lives after this. They expressed a desire to
return home and live a normal life. You deserve that, though,
like you've been a part of a group that have
flaughtered people, traded women as slaves, killed people's children. There's

(29:34):
eleven thousand march from the YEPG that have died from
a stop the Islamic state. You know, I don't need
to be rude, but like you, I realistically I agree
with you. I mean, why should you deserve that? Sometimes
the sisters a boy the gate that kwats and they're like, um,
open the gate, open, They open the gate. These guys
don't have no rama, And I'm like, what rama? Rama

(29:57):
is an Islamic term that means mercy. We kill these
people husband's, the wives, the children rahma. I'm like, come on,
that's kind of thing. And then but at the same time,
it's not a one sided killing. The killing has come
from both sides. I've lost two husbands, so what what
what like? How do you look at it now? But
both sets up times? So therefore what picture? And then

(30:20):
after you say bags, I don't think I could let
necessarily say dish was behind was a madness? Was massacre?
I didn't think, well what what? What was like? The
my mental I think my mentor is gone. It was crazy.
Banks was crazy to have a clean actually shoot at
you that even you to know, like the certain noises

(30:43):
I hear. I'm still like, there was an orphanage with
your team children and they bomb the orphanage. Come on,
they bombed my children hospital, they bomb who time fighting
was happening? It was just very careful because you don't
want to come to us yesterday, because you want to stay,
We're going to shoot at you constantly and kill children.
How to me, how do you justify that part? But

(31:04):
no one will see it that way? You on the
song now when you look at how you've been traded
after being captured by the STF. If the war had
gone the other way and your site had one and
captured them, how do you think they would have been treated? Honestly,
I can't see because you never arrested me as a

(31:29):
girl girl, you know, as a as a note about
local normal citizen. For me, because I grew up my
pack listen I did was psychology and social work before,
so I haven't really I know, balanced and opened a
lot of things, you know, like for example, one of
the gymerlists game and I hugged her when she left,

(31:49):
you know, Hi, by I see the money street high
are we going? So for me, I will treat you
the same that for me, I don't know about them.
For me, this is my personality. I'm a very happy,
go lucky place and that's me. Whatever you choose to
do with your life, that's you. But obviously I would
try to introduce you to Islam kind of thing. You know,
I was good. Well, I mean if it weren't Muslim
that I don't know what you know? Okay, what about us,

(32:10):
we're worked Western journalists. You guys cut the heads off.
Of course a few weren't Western journalist and we're not Muslim. Yeah,
I would really dealt with you. See, I don't know
how the man yet in terms of the man, how
the man tells me things? You just saw to be
headings at the television and ever you come on. You
knew you James Foley was bad. Like we were reporting

(32:30):
in this region around the same time. Like I knew
if I was captured, that's what was going to happen
to me. Especially if you were on the other side.
I would imagine to stay. But everyone's cases not the same.
That's as much as I could see, So I can't say, yes,
you would have been killed. Men the men, and they
never exposed us like a husband's. They never really exposed

(32:52):
as someone. Both women had a tendency to waffle when
we pressed them directly on Islamic state atrocities and the
fact that if our situations had been reversed, Jake Cabot
and I would not have known nearly so much mercy
as they now enjoyed, you know, like um, like did
they never exposed? That's what all the men would deal with?
The men kind of thing, you know. So I really

(33:12):
don't just see the videos of it or what hav
in the cases and then we would find them. But
in terms of the women, I can tell you who
I would be with you, do you understand? But in
terms of the many, I think you would have been beheaded. Honestly,
does any of that kind of the brutality of the
of of what was going on there, does any of
that make you rethink your decision to be a part

(33:33):
of it? Um, I don't even know what it starts.
Ye oh no, that's a big question given all you've
been through. I don't really need to think about that question,

(33:56):
because I've seen it come to the brutality come towards
us as well. And this is so I don't know
what I know what I want to say, because I've
seen a lot of serious things on my side as well,

(34:17):
which the world has not been the eyes have not
been opened to this. Can you understand? Maybe? Why not? Though?
Like just just like from my point of view. You know,
it's like if someone if ices start up, they're cutting
off heads, they're putting women in veils, and I understand
you you don't mind it because it's your side of things, right,

(34:37):
but they're pushing that on everybody. You know, they're cutting
off a journalists head just because he doesn't have the
same ideology. Can you not see how then that we're like, well, yeah,
killed him, Like frankly, you know, it's a war and
we don't want that so as to be stopped. Like
can you understand why the retailer you happened or do
you see it differently? I don't know. For me, I
never even like I'm here and you're saying this, and
for me what I talked before, they killed it because

(34:59):
you don't have the proper idol ideology I took. For me,
I thought they would have exposed you to what they taught,
the proper ideology and not just kidnap you and kill you.
You understand. I don't know if that's what happened, but
not that we're sing it. I don't know if that's
what what happened or if they I don't know. I
really don't know. Some of the things. I'm telling you,
we really don't know because they were captured with what

(35:20):
happened in these prisons, what conversations, what chances from me,
I don't legend all days it did to converted the
religion they obliged it, all days it did to convert.
When herbart says that Isis obliged the adies to convert
to Islam, she's referring to the genocide that the Caliphate
carried out upon the members of that religious minority. They
did not like that. You know, I actually know it's

(35:42):
two years Eily women. I met in Raca and they
were slaves, a Bosnian guy and I can't remember the
other person. And I got really good friends with her,
you know, I remember that in the blue building on
in one of them. Anyway, I can't remember. And from
what she told me, she said that she really loved

(36:02):
hustling a slave master and she accepted. Now that was
either a lie or an example of a terrified and
slave person trying to avoid punishment. In either case, it
pissed Jake Cabot and eye off she and the other place.
You know, That's what I've talked to at this point
more than a hundred years who saw all of the

(36:22):
men in their village lined up and shot and their
bodies thrown into a hole. Um, what can justify that?
Who's there? Far? Is that enough to justify killing all
the men that they're cafar and some Yeah? For me,

(36:52):
this war is never ending and it's on both side,
and one side will only see this story. On the
other side, we'll just see this on my way continue
right way way is the right way. That's how I
see it, and that's why I say, whatever you believe,
you'll be your way. I'd be my kind of thing,
you know, when I just try to keep the balance

(37:13):
in between. We always be busy. It seems to me
though that I'm sure that there's there's bad things done
by guards here, but on the whole, your your wealth fed,
you're safe from at least nobody's bombing you, nobody's shooting
at you. Um. The threats that you face on a
daily basis are from other people that you were members

(37:36):
of the Islamic State with UH and the SDF is
allowing you. You're allowed to wear your new cob, You're
allowed to continue to worship yesterday. That is what all
the guys that it's my mood to Nicole, it is
mam mood to wear black. It is mamluty went blue
and all those things. You will see that they will
take this off. Yeah, I think it just it's just

(37:58):
a matter of thing. Yeah. As of nine months later,
prisoners and al whole are still allowed to wear their
in a cop It seems that you've been shown more
toleration though than for example, if I or Jake wound
up in the custody of the Islamic State, then we
would have been shown or if you go sent to
the Iraqis or the regime, Yeah, you wouldn't be seeing here.

(38:23):
One thing, I just want to say that it's weird
to me to you know, you're a black woman. Black
we would have been impressed from start time and you
just justified that your ZD woman it was okay because
she loved her slave master, like just going on. I
don't know what she said. I don't know the history
of the z You're not the history of n slave now,
but I don't know her ish. I never asked, you know,

(38:44):
like what about the z DS. Why I just knew
she wasn't slave. I don't know how fine it went.
Anything wrong with having slaves. I didn't What do you mean,
like how he she was a slave? F very weird
that I don't know this very just was very unknownal
But slaving Islam is not like slavery backing. There's you're

(39:05):
supposed to. There's certain rules you have to follow. You
have to show Rachman, you must feed them, and you
must take care of the profound irony of black women.
Justifying slavery to two white men was not lost on me. Somehow,
that didn't make it funny. But I talked to you
slaves who claimed they were That doesn't mean what I'm saying.

(39:25):
That doesn't mean that's a slam. If that's what they
were doing and they were wave, then yes, these women
could have taught a course on weasel words to an
audience of congressmen. I suspect some of their care came
from a desire to be freed eventually and to return
home to the Caribbean. Admitting to having watched executions and
cheering for the rape of slaves. Wouldn't danger that she

(39:46):
missed the West, miss the Caribbean. Um, I missed the
beach for certain things. I missed my family there. Now
not true? Would your mother think of this. I think
she was my mother's against everything, but you know she's

(40:06):
my mother's Christian mine, she's Muslim. A lot of the
women in the camp parents at Christian keep from me,
catalysm on these other things. People. But do you want
to like if your country would take you back, would
you leave this place and go back a lot of
people from my country were to go back to think
just what everybody know? You know? Why don't would you

(40:32):
still wear the nicob if you went back to your country? Yes?
I don't think. I don't know how it is in Barbados.
It's been four years were in it. So if I
was more uncomfortable with so why not but to walk
around in the street with it? Yes, you also be targeted,
but in my country, I don't think it's Um, it's something,

(40:56):
it's normal because they are women in my country who
were ni cap you no one who wake gloves and
all these things. But colors? What how old are you both?
I'm two with the jury? Um, are you comfortable giving
your names? I am Aliyah ap to Hack. You could

(41:25):
just give a first name too, that's better Abby? Oh yeah,
and Abbey? And you were born in Trinidad and you
were born Barbados. Yeah, I feel like you were perhaps
more missing things at my country. I missed my mom. Yeah,

(41:46):
she was my best friend, you know still is. I
guess what I really missed my mom? I missed that relationship.
This is the most genuine emotion we see out of
either of them during the interview, and I'd be lying
if I said it didn't break my heart a little bit.
Both Aleiah and Abby are unrepentant members of a genocidal
terrorist group, but they're also still human beings, and it

(42:07):
sucks your head up a little bit to think about.
Aliah and Abbey made several strong protestations that they never
sought to insfringe on anyone else's liberty. They just wanted
to be able to live life according to the strict
rules of their interpretation of Islam. But as we talked
to them, it became clear that what they really meant

(42:28):
is that they wanted the chance to live by their
rules in a place where no one else had the
choice to live any other way. For me, it was
because everyone else around me was on the same page,
which is what we all went talking to be together
in a place where we all had the same Akida
the same thinking. Here we spoke with a young woman
who lived under ice is I think for three years,

(42:53):
who went out in in a cob with a silver
belt that was bought by the Aba and was punished
by being lashed hundred times in her back. Do you
think that's a fair punishment for the crime, even from
you have Three different men had to whip her because
their arms kept getting tired. We always about these things,

(43:15):
and there is nowhere in Islamic list a difference between
Islam and a persons you'll belief. Just as I said,
is a difference between qualita and a difference between Islam.
So it's interesting to me that Aliah and Abbey reacted
to this story of isis brutality the same way many
Iraqi Muslims I spoke to and Mosel related to stories

(43:36):
of the Caliphate's brutality. The differences those Muslims had chosen
to take up arms against the group perverting their faith
through sadistic violence. They fought and died to put an
end to this monstrosity. Aliyah and Abbey, however, joined under
the Islamic state you Uh. They attempted to enforce a
variety of laws which you could say, we're not you know,

(43:56):
part of Islam is written, but that's still what the
Islamics State tried to do. Whereas a government like the
one that exists in rojaba Um, you can live strict
under Muslim law if you want, but you're not forced to.
Why would you prefer to live in a system where
people are forced to live a certain way as opposed

(44:17):
to one where you could choose to live as a
Muslim or choose not to and not be punished either way,
and not just recom I think on the this Islamic State,
I wouldn't say it's forcing anything. You weren't, but other
people were. Now I found very free. Actually, I think
at this point we get to a very important truth
about both of these women in particular and religious extremists

(44:40):
in general. They are supremely selfish people because we we
actually when we came from our country and went towards
that city, you were forced And yeah, like what you
said with the you know, I can understand that question
that people weren't like the Islamic State wasn't just setting
up a new country in an in the area and
just saying we want to live this and everyone who

(45:00):
wants to live this way, we can move here. They
were they had an army, they conquered territory, and so
people were forced to live a certain way. The house
you lived in, someone was chased out with it doesn't
does that seem wrong knowing the history of Islam? I

(45:21):
don't see one, because hasn't that same thing happened in
the history. I think that's if you need to know
the history of Islam first time, you'll be able to
put two one to together. You know what about the
history of Islam. I'm just about being good to your
fellow person. Religion aside, you chase someone out of their home,
I don't know. I'd be annoyed if someone did that
to me. Like that's something that has happened from the

(45:43):
history of from like time in memorial has happened from
not just Islam. It's happened with Columbus. And then you
know they chase the armor Indians, I would force them
to live on in them. So it's something that has
been uncle that's historical. Do you not think that's aple
can be broken and we can make better societies that
don't talking about this since I've seen the same logic

(46:08):
used by fascist extremists in the United States, people who
believe the colonization of the Americas and the enslavement of
black Africans were both justified because other people in history
also did bad stuff. This is probably not surprising, but
neither of these women expressed any true remorse for the
crimes that they had enabled. They did, however, grudgingly accept
that things being what they were in tournament by the

(46:29):
SDF was about the best option they had left. You
want to go to Iraq, you would prefer to stay
here with the SDF as opposed to that? What type
of people? No, If we have to stay here, then

(46:52):
the last isis prisoners sent to Iraq. A bunch of
former French citizens had in fact been tried and executed
immediately upon their arrival. The fact that execution is banned
under Rojava's constitution was probably the only thing keeping Aliyah
and Abby both alive. Our time together was drawing to
an end, but I had one last question I wanted
to ask them both. I you know, one of the

(47:14):
videos that I watched before I went over to Ract
the first time it was produced by the Islamic State,
was a young boy, maybe seven years old, with a
handgun executing a man and mosl um. If one of
your sons were to take up jihad and at their
current age, kill one of the guards here or me,

(47:36):
or hurt or him, would you be proud of? Probably not?
But how would you feel? I guess it's more open ended.
First I would want to know why, because they're too

(47:56):
far I feel. First I would be scared about what
would meant happened to him. That's my first thing that
I would feel, rather than know why did he do it?
Because of course I have a lot of hate within
me for people who have us here in prison. So

(48:17):
you know, just the other day I heard some months
some woman was shot, So I how do I see?
Like my mental Like I said, I've seen too much.
So I think that's it. If you guys were exposed
to what we were exposed to, I think the courspens
maybe a little. Maybe you may also see it from

(48:38):
our point of view too. You know, yes, I agree,
I totally agree with some of it. Thinks you were
saying that some of it we been too extreme. But
to see a child do that, then you need to
sit down and find out why, what was going on
in his what did he see that he had taken up.
What does it respond Because we all came from, like
I said, a massacre coming down to the end. A

(49:00):
lot of people are angry. We have no guns to shoot,
but we have no weapony, nothing, but this plane comes
out every day night. We kind of have been exposed
to it because we've both done front by reporting and
people that are clashing with ices, so we've seen what
they do doing. For I was in prison in Turkey

(49:20):
with some Chechen ISIS and they wanted to cut my
head off. So we have seen was pent down by
an ISIS. Yeah, like we've kind of seen you know
what I'm saying, We're not coming from a complete place
of nativity, you know what I mean. It's never been
bombed by an aircraft though, and I that seems like
I've watched them bombed places, and that does seem like
the scariest thing I can imagine. I'll say that there's

(49:44):
a certain kind of respect that I have for anyone
who's survived an experience like that. It seems like it
would be it would free your sanity. Yeah, and that
was it. After used to face talk with ISIS, or
at least what's left of it. We called our guard
back in and she returned them to their tents, where,

(50:05):
for all I know they still reside today. Our next
scheduled adventure was a tour around the camp, but before
we went off to do that, our Asaish guard came
back in and suggested we might want to interview one
of the non Isis civilians and turned in this camp
with them a young person who was initially described by
the guards as transgender. So this person we're about to
meet is you would say, transgender noise, Let's not complete

(50:28):
trans gender, it's just like you know outside. Cobot explained
that the guard had good naturedly gotten some of her
terms wrong. The person we were about to interview was
a young girl who lived and presented as a young boy.
This didn't seem to be a matter of how this
person identified. It was a practical strategy for avoiding violent
attention from the Isis brides to just to protect herself.

(50:55):
They came from Aleppo, a city largely destroyed in an
unsuccessful attempt to free itself from b Shar al Assad.
So she came to Racca with her mother and her
uncle's her mother's brothers. Okay, so she came with them
on been yeah, because of as in case that was

(51:18):
hard to understand. This poor kid's mom took her in
her siblings to Rocca and into the domain of the
Islamic State because it was safer than Aleppo. Then, during
the U s s d of shelling of that city,
her mother was killed, so she still with her uncles aunties.
They drove her until they moved to Then they delivered her.
They married her to her courage. She was years although

(51:39):
she married. This arranged marriage lasted six months. She was
thirteen and he was nineteen. Her husband fled, eventually abandoning
her to the hell that was Bugoos. She lived through
the last battle of the Caliphate, just like the two
brides we've spoken with earlier. When ISIS resistance collapsed, she
was taken into custody like the rest of the civilian survivors.
The whole nature of ISIS and radicalization meant that the

(52:00):
STF couldn't just release all these people. Many of them
were innocent victims like this kid and her siblings, but
others were like the ISIS brides you just heard from
and their children, one of whom tried to burn a
guard alive recently. You don't want those people let out
to have the run of Rojava. This is why innocent
civilians displaced by war are held in the same massive
camp as Isis Brides. Our new little friend has family

(52:21):
outside of the camp, and they tried to get her out,
but her aunt and uncle live in Aleppo, which is
controlled by the regime, and to make a long story short,
bureaucratic confusion makes it impossible for her to leave now,
so she remains here with her younger siblings, and since
she is the oldest, she's made it her business to
take care of them. This necessitates the disguise they got too.
Managed to protect my siblings at the same time to

(52:44):
serving them and helping the queue with them. Isn't just
a man I can give the assistance pasta. The disguise
also protects her. The Isis Brides have formed something akin
to a mafia within the camp. The guards cannot be
everywhere and there are seventy tho people in ol Hale.
Being a young girl out of in a cob would

(53:04):
make her a target, and they started the osest woman.
They started to tell her, while you are not wearing
the fullest as she said at that moment I decided
to wear my to her dispoige appe. During her time
under Isis she had heard terrible things about the SDF,
so they will always liked taking us. They are they
are if they were going to capture, they're going to

(53:26):
converting to a six labor, they were going to put
you on a prison, and always about things about them.
She claims she never believed the propaganda, though, and she
has clearly become a favorite of the guards here. They
slip her extra food, watch over her and her siblings,
and help keep her a secret. That's all that can
be done. At the moment she leaves, cheerious can be,
but Hobart, Jake and I are all bummed as hell
about her situation. Sure I would like at least get

(54:09):
it back to her aunt. To at least get her
back to her aunt. Yeah, just why why? I don't

(54:34):
know what she thought it would be her mom. Now
that we're all properly piste off a disheartened, it's time
to finally go out into the hurly burly of al Hole.
We meet up with our guards, two armed sdfmen, and
we head out on foot. They've had too many vehicles
damaged by rock throwing to one a drive before we
head outbat make sure I have my knife in my
free hand. So we're about to walk through all whole camped,

(54:57):
through the tents, through the market. We've got two WHITEPG
guards with us, both of them armed with a K
forty seven. If we're swarmed and attacked by Isis brides,
the guns won't be of much use. One of our
guards even points to his a K forty seven and says, essentially,
if they come at us, these aren't going to help.

(55:17):
It becomes immediately clear why this is Our hole is massive,
filled with countless thousands of tents and crowds of people.
There are few guards, and the maze of tents could
discourage a crowd of armed Isis brides. At any point.
They could come right out on top of you, knives
and razor blades drawn. As we walk into the camp
and a young child and I read Adidas shirt walks
by looks questioningly at me. Ahead, I see two Josh

(55:43):
brides and film the cops, one carrying a baby, and
then a crowd of people. Further into the market, we
walk past crowds of Isis brides, some escorted by guards,
some not. Whenever I look at them, they flipped down
the little face shield in front of their eyes, turning
them all into uniform, eyeless masses of black fabric. It
is unsettling, to say the least, particularly as we get

(56:05):
further in. At several points were surrounded by isis brides,
all faceless but staring at us. They look like ghosts.
It is one of the eeriest experiences of my life.
It is a bit like being inside the Islamic State,
with our guards being the human equivalent of one of
those tanks people sit inside to watch sharks. As we

(56:26):
get further into the camp, we reached the market, a
bustling square filled with large tent based shops. This surprises me.
I've seen refugee camps in Ukraine, Serbia, Hungary, Iraq and
now Syria. All of them have some sort of internal economy,
but the market here is the largest I've seen. In general,
our whole is dusty, but clean, orderly and well maintained.
I do not believe anyone who has visited refugee camps

(56:49):
around the world could fault the SDF for what they've
established here, given the resources available to them. The frightening
aspects of this place have nothing to do with how
it's run, and everything to do with the fact that
it hosts thousands of ISIS sympathizers and unfortunately, lots of
children are trapped in the middle. Is Jacobot and I
wander through. We meet a young black boy around ten
years old, who identifies himself as an American. We're in America.

(57:16):
Where in America? Are you from Trinidad? How do you
come to be here? Where's your father? Now? Ye? Sorry
to hear that. It becomes clear that he meant from

(57:37):
the America's in that and he said dead not fall
in Shahid when he talked about his father. The fact
that he calls his father a corpse and not a
martyr is telling the fury rolling off. This boy is
palpable in his eyes. I said, I'm sorry to hear that. Yeah,
air strike Joel. I don't know that I've ever seen

(58:13):
more anger from a person. He walks off alone into
the dusty crowd, and we continue our walk to the market.
Is that's a market. There's shops, a pretty wide variety
of products, dozens and dozens of stalls. Uh. For a prison,
people seem to be about as free as you could

(58:35):
expect them to be. We ask our guards to take
us on a walk up to the walled off ices
compound within the camp. It takes about a half hour
on foot. As we trek, our guards greet individual internees
they know personally most of the people. They stopped to
speak to our little kids, including one chubby wheelchair bound boy.
Both of his legs are missing from the knee down,

(58:56):
the consequence of a US air strike. He looks like
he must be in constant pain, but he's all smiles
and laughter when we meet him. Is clearly a favorite
of the guards. A small four wheel buggy rolls past,
basically a golf cart. Two kids are holding onto the
back as it drives, and one of our ASA guards

(59:18):
yells at them, tutting that they might fall off and
hurt themselves. The y behind this has made clear. As
soon as we reached the outskirts of the Isis compound,
we see a small crowd of guards gathered around where
one of the kids we saw earlier is lying in
the dust. Blood pours down the front of his forehead.
Another child, possibly his brother, tries to help him up.
When the guards see what's happened, one of them dashes
in and grabs the child hosting him up on his

(59:39):
chest and sprinting off to the medical center to see
to the boy's injury. We head inside the compound. The
Iis camp is immediately and deeply bizarre because most of
the Isis brides and their children are foreigners. This place
is incredibly diverse, with every conceivable nationality represented. The boy
passes me and it shared with the Australian flag. It

(01:00:00):
says fair Dingham Assie. Most of the children here will
not talk to us. Many of them are clearly European
or American. Though we see one white, blondhaired boy, perhaps
twelve years old. His arm is bandaged. He was shot
in Bugoos fighting for the Caliphate. We do not spend
long in the little Caliphate. It is depressing here. You

(01:00:21):
can see in the eyes of the internees how many
of them are still loyal. As we exit and walk
back to the assay Is headquarters where we'd parked our car,
we see a young woman sitting out on a bench,
looking for all the world, like she was waiting for
a ride. My eyes are drawn to her because from
the neck down she's dressed the same as a dashi,
but her head is uncovered and she wears lipsticks. Sitting
next to a pile of water purification tablets, a bunch

(01:00:45):
of bread, and uh several sheeps of paper in a folder,
she tells Coat that she is from Aleppo, like the
little girl we met earlier. She decided to join the
Islamic State, and she fled from Rocco with them and
wound up on the killing fields of Bagoos. But now
she's in ol Hole and she's won herself an elected
position on the camp's local commune. I ask her opinion

(01:01:05):
on the democratic confederalist system. Where is she hoping to
go out? Lama is A I'm gonna stay in literatory.
You don't want to go back to the regime. Is

(01:01:29):
there a job she would like to do? Her training
she'd like to give when she gets out Fisily had
she wanted to join the military forces. All whole is
not a place of optimism, But this last interaction, the
final interview of our trip to Rojava, does leave me

(01:01:52):
feeling optimistic. And I will need that optimism because two
months after we leave, Turkey's invasion begins. Hundreds upon hundreds
are killed and hundreds of thousands are displaced. The Turkish
army occupies more of Rojava's land. They conquer the city
of Sarakane, forcing the stf out of villages and towns
that just weeks before, Jake, Cabat and I had driven

(01:02:14):
through safely. Artillery fire lights up the sky around peaceful Derek.
While Jake and I watch in horror from the safety
of our homes in the west. Cabat risks her life
to do her job once again, and as I typed
these words, she and Alan are still okay. During our
road trip, Jake and I had played Cabat an old
Irish rebel song, go on Home British Soldiers. She'd liked

(01:02:35):
it a lot. A few days into the Turkish invasion,
this song goes viral among supporters of the Rojavan cause soldiers,
have you got no great fights? The revolutionary spirit alone

(01:03:05):
was not enough to hold the line, and so after
the invasion, the military leaders of the SDF were forced
to allow the Syrian regime and the Russian army in.
There was no other choice with the Turkish army bearing
down on their positions. At this moment, the Syrian regime
is too militarily weak to enforce its rules on the
people of Rojava, but Bashar al Assad has made it

(01:03:25):
clear that he does not intend to let the self
administration remain autonomous forever. The people of Rojava and the
SDF have made it equally clear that they won't let
that happen without a fight, and true to their nature,
the STF has doggedly resisted the invasion. Jin War was
abandoned briefly and then reoccupied. Kobani, Kamishlo and Derek still
endure and resist. The teachings of Abdulla Agolan are still

(01:03:48):
preached to young men and women at YPG and J
training academies. The Mamas and their peers still continue their
experiments and ground up social organizing. The ideas of Moray
Bucchin have not been abandoned, but from where I sit,
it is deeply unclear if this experiment will continue in
the long run. As always happens in war, brutality has

(01:04:09):
bred more brutality. The Turkish government has continued to carry
out the ethnic cleansing campaign that began in Afron, forcing
Kords out and bussing in Arabs. They have executed political leaders, tortured,
captured female fighters, and carried out drone strikes on civilian targets.
In response, Anti Turkish partisans have escalated their own brutality.
On April twenty eight, twenty twenty, a truck bomb was

(01:04:31):
detonated in Turkish occupied Afrin, killing fifty three people, including
twelve Turkish backed fighters and eleven children. The SDF officially
condemned the attack. Turkey blames it on the YPG. I
cannot tell you who is responsible, but for days afterwards
that old George Orwell quote from Homage to Catalonia ran
through my mind. The fact is that every war suffers

(01:04:53):
a kind of progressive degradation with every month that it continues,
because things such as individual liberty and a truthful press
are simply not compatible with military efficiency. But as of
right now, Rojava still endures. Kobani, Kamischelo, Derek and gin
War all still resist. It is a resistance defined by
compromise and painful uncertainty, but it is not death. And

(01:05:16):
Rojava's future is still unwritten. And as the terrible news
of the last seven months has reached my door, I've
studied myself by remembering that last interview we conducted an
ol whole with a former Isis supporter who had been
converted and liberated by the Rojavan's system. As long as
this revolutions ideals can take root in the hearts of
men and women, even men and women who once pledged

(01:05:38):
loyalty to the Islamic state, anything, it's possible. Oh my god,
this is she's not here. She's still got a lot
of the dress on, but slowly getting out. MS no, no,

(01:06:09):
I have a hope. When he said there is a hope,
there is a hope if a LiPo the most radical
isis Cyrian isis they are in this effort, spetting in
the council and coming up. There are lines in this
new system. I think we have a hope. Nat As

(01:06:43):
at all chow well show chow chow chow a dinner
at all your rado vessel Bai Janoo, damia bell a
chow wellas chow and a child chow chow Dejano dy

(01:07:04):
b are Jimmy said nosey molly chaow gave me day
breath jallow gave the day you royal, But de chando

(01:07:25):
will bet a child and a child and a child
chow chowder, say your royal hip, Dejano baby said, Babby said,
does want danyellow? Who better? Chowder and a child and
the child child child Spida? Does me want danyall? So

(01:07:46):
don't do burger belly, don't don't anything againteed get us set,

(01:08:19):
I don't Oh bell A chow bella chow Belle chow
chow chow in againde get us set, I know me okay,
bellful was do the fut de chann No, Let's go
bell A chowd bell A chow chow chow chow doling
pure and fun. Dechano more. I leave Belle? What's doing shadow?

(01:08:49):
I leave chow time. The Women's War is a production
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