“It is normal to rape, young men need this”: Islamic State militant

The Islamic State militant, Hussein Ambar, (Reuters)

Kurdish intelligence authorities captured two Islamic State (IS) militants during an assault, which resulted in the death of 99 civilians and soldiers, on the city of Kirkuk in October. One of the militants, Hussein Ambar, gave a harrowing account of his time in the jihadist group to Reuters.

The IS militant stated that he had killed nearly 500 people and raped 200 women since joining IS in 2013.

Ambar said that the Islamic State commanders led him and the other militants to rape as many women -mostly Yazidis- as they wanted. “This is normal,” Ambar told Reuters, “young men need this.”

The Islamic State (IS) group invaded northern Iraq in 2014, abducting thousands of Yazidi women and children, who were then trafficked.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented a system of organised rape and sexual assault, sexual slavery, and forced marriage by IS forces. “ISIS [Islamic State] forces have committed organised rape, sexual assault, and other horrific crimes against Yazidi women and girls,” said Liesl Gerntholtz, women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch.

Ambar also confessed that the militants shot and beheaded whoever they were commanded to kill. “It is difficult to kill at first,” he said, “It became easier day by day.” Victims were taken to the desert and killed, 8-10 or 30-40 people at one time, he said.

“I would sit them down, put a blindfold on them and fire a bullet into their heads,” the militant said cold-bloodedly, “it was normal.”

Ambar also stated that he was from a poor family and that’s why he had joined the jihadist group. “I was broke,” he said, “I had no friends or family to tell me what was wrong or true.”

The 21 years-old-militant was encouraged to join the jihadist group al-Qaeda by a local mosque preacher when he was 14 years old, eventually he joined IS. Ambar has been imprisoned in a small cell in Iraq since his capture.

Iraqi authorities have been criticised for not investigating and punishing war crimes committed on its own territory. However some say it is difficult to single out war crimes committed by the IS group when there are so many being committed in the regions it operates in Syria and Iraq.