ISIS Defector Reports on the Sale of Organs Harvested from ISIS held “Slaves”

prisoner

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. & Ahmet S. Yayla, Ph.D.

In February of 2015 Iraqi Ambassador, Mohamed Alhakim requested the UN Security Council to investigate the deaths of twelve doctors in Mosul, Iraq who he claimed had been killed by ISIS after refusing to remove organs from dead bodies. He also claimed that some of the bodies found were mutilated with opening in the back where the kidneys are located. “This is clearly something bigger than we think,” Ambassador Alhakim stated.[1]

“Organ theft during wars, civil wars, dirty wars, wars involving undisciplined armies is not uncommon,” Nancy Scheper-Hughes, chair of Berkeley’s doctoral program in medical anthropology and director of Organs Watch, a California based documentation and research project told CNN in response to the February claim. She also told CNN that the market in human organs is brisk commenting that, “The demand for fresh organs and tissues … is insatiable.” Scheper-Hughes added fresh kidneys from “the brain dead or from those executed with the assistance of trained organ harvesters are the blood diamonds of illicit and criminal trafficking.”[2]

U.S. State Department responded to the February 2015 claims with the following statement: “We also have no reason to doubt them given other similar atrocities that have been documented and other heinous crimes for which ISIL has proudly taken credit.” [3]

In September of 2015, former ISIS prisoner Abo Rida was reported stating that surgeons for the terror group removed kidneys and corneas from prisoners. Rida reported ISIS informing their captives that “the fate of these prisoners (was) inevitable death” and the jihadists were “more deserving” of the organs. Rida said he escaped from ISIS after a counter-terrorism raid damaged their prison, but that he was fired upon trying to escape and was only one of four who made it out alive. [4]

In December of 2015 the U.S. government revealed that it had obtained in May, via a Special Forces raid in eastern Syria, a document dated January 31, 2015 (among many others) giving the Islamic justification for harvesting organs from “infidels.” The ruling according to Reuters, states that taking organs from a living captive to save a Muslim’s life, even if it is fatal for the captive, is permissible. “The apostate’s life and organs don’t have to be respected and may be taken with impunity,” the fatwa from the Islamic State’s Research and Fatwa Committee reads. It goes on to say, “Organs that end the captive’s life if removed: The removal of that type is also not prohibited.” The Islamic State’s ruling on organ harvesting cites Islamic texts, principles and laws lending support for what the group argues, “the notion that transplanting healthy organs into a Muslim person’s body in order to save the latter’s life or replace a damaged organ with it is permissible.”[5] A U.S. government translation of the fatwa can be found here.

While the newly discovered fatwa does not offer any proof that Islamic State actually engages in organ harvesting or organ trafficking, that ISIS could be reaping financial benefits by trafficking in stolen body parts is not inconceivable. Given the numerous reports leaking about the justification for and actual activity of organ harvesting and given that it has faced set-backs in its illicit oil trade of late due to airstrikes on it, the group may need to recoup the money.

In our ISIS Defector Interview Project at the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism we were also informed by an ISIS defector in December of 2015 who maintains ties with other Islamic State cadres, both still in and out of the group that, “There is a statement now from Daesh: ‘From this point you do not kill the slaves. We need to use their bodies to make money [for organ trade].’ Basically, they are saying that the slaves are already ‘dead’. We need to make money off their bodies by selling body parts.”

While we hope it’s not true, given all the heinous acts the Islamic State cadres have already carried out, this is just one more sickening example of how un-Islamic ISIS really is.

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. is Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University in the School of Medicine and Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE). She is author of Talking to Terrorists and Bride of ISIS and coauthor of Undercover Jihadi. In 2007, Dr. Speckhard was responsible for designing the psychological and Islamic challenge aspects of the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq to be applied to twenty thousand detainees and eight hundred juveniles. She has interviewed over four hundred terrorists, their family members and supporters in various parts of the world including Gaza, the West Bank, Chechnya, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and many countries in Europe. Website: www.AnneSpeckhard.com

Ahmet S. Yayla, Ph.D. is Professor and the Chair of Sociology Department at Harran University in south of Turkey by the Syrian border. Dr. Yayla is a Research Fellow at ICSVE. Dr. Yayla served as Chief of Anti-terrorism Division at the Turkish National Police. He has earned his masters and Ph.D. degrees on the subject of terrorism and radicalization at the University of North Texas. Dr. Yayla’s research mainly focuses on terrorism, sociology, dealing with terrorism without use of force, terrorist recruitment and propaganda, radicalization (including ISIS and Al Qaeda) and violence. He has mostly authored several works on the subject of terrorism. He has also been advisor to the United States Ohio Department of Homeland Security (December 2005 to April 2006) on issues of terrorism and interacting with Muslim Communities in the United States. Dr. Yayla also witnessed at the United States Congress and Senate, Homeland Security Committee and Subcommittee on Prevention of Nuclear and Biological Attacks (October 21st, 2006) on the subject of “Local Law Enforcement Preparedness for Countering the Threats of Terrorism.”

References:

[1] Sanchez, R. (February 19, 2015). United Nations investigates claims of ISIS organ theft. CNNhttp://www.cnn.com/2015/02/18/middleeast/isis-organ-harvesting-claim/ Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/18/middleeast/isis-organ-harvesting-claim/

[2] Sanchez, R. (February 19, 2015). United Nations investigates claims of ISIS organ theft. CNNhttp://www.cnn.com/2015/02/18/middleeast/isis-organ-harvesting-claim/ Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/18/middleeast/isis-organ-harvesting-claim/

[3] Sanchez, R. (February 19, 2015). United Nations investigates claims of ISIS organ theft. CNNhttp://www.cnn.com/2015/02/18/middleeast/isis-organ-harvesting-claim/ Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/18/middleeast/isis-organ-harvesting-claim/

[4] Burman, J. (October 1, 2015). ISIS ‘doctors’ harvesting healthy prisoners’ ORGANS and using them as living bloodbank. Expresshttp://www.express.co.uk/news/world/609158/ISIS-harvest-organs-Doctors-Escape-Abo-Rida-Syria-Terrorism-Surgeons Retrieved from http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/609158/ISIS-harvest-organs-Doctors-Escape-Abo-Rida-Syria-Terrorism-Surgeons and

Catholic Online. (September 30, 2015). Islamic State cutting out organs from ‘healthy’ captives to strengthen injured jihadists. http://www.catholic.org/news/international/middle_east/story.php?id=64383 Retrieved from http://www.catholic.org/news/international/middle_east/story.php?id=64383

[5] Strobel, W., Landay, J., & Stewart, P. (December 25, 2015). Exclusive: Islamic State sanctioned organ harvesting in document taken in U.S. raid. Reuters Newshttp://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-islamic-state-documents-idUSKBN0U805R20151225 Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-islamic-state-documents-idUSKBN0U805R20151225

This report is a publication of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) and can be found here.

Eyewitness Accounts from Recent Defectors from Islamic State: Why they Joined, What they Saw, Why they Quit

ISISby Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. & Ahmet S. Yayla, Ph.D.

The Islamic State (IS) is the most powerful, ruthless, horrific and well-funded terrorist group in recent history. Not only has ISIS managed to take and control a significant swathe of territory, it has become a de-facto state. Since their 2014 claim of establishing a Caliphate, ISIS has also unleashed an unprecedented and prolific social media recruiting drive that has enabled them to attract up to 30,000 foreign fighters from more than one hundred countries. A steady stream of fighters continues to enter Syria and Iraq on a daily basis—with some estimates placing their number at over one thousand new recruits per month.[[i]] In addition, ISIS has created a “brand” that has been exported to over twenty hotspots around the globe. As ISIS has arisen—seemingly out of nowhere—to become a powerful foe, the West has struggled to comprehend and understand how to effectively counter it.

While a political solution in the war-torn area of Syria and Iraq is a necessary precondition to the total defeat of ISIS, discrediting the group’s ideology is also essential. Defectors from ISIS, who alongside the refugees pour out of ISIS-controlled territory, are among the most powerful first-hand voices to speak out against the group. Indeed a disillusioned cadre who can speak from experience and tell their authentic stories about life inside ISIS may be the most influential tool for preventing and dissuading others from joining ISIS.

The fight against Islamic State must take place on many fronts, including finding political solutions to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.  Islamic State is currently winning on many fronts—social media being the most powerful in terms of involving Westerners in homegrown terrorist attacks. At present the Internet serves as a nerve center to connect ISIS activists and propagandists who have proved themselves extremely savvy, active and successful on social media in recruiting Westerners to their cause—to plot terror activity, travel to Syria and Iraq, fundraise, as well as carry out concrete action in behalf of the terrorist group’s goals. That front can be won back by discrediting their ideology and one of the most powerful ways to do that is to use voices of insiders—ISIS defectors to do so.

While it is difficult to reach ISIS defectors and also persuade them to speak out against the group, it is possible. Turkey is a country through which thousands of Westerners have funneled themselves to join ISIS and other militant groups fighting in Syria and Iraq.  Recently, disaffected cadres—ISIS defectors—are crossing in the opposite direction, back into Turkey and hiding out there hoping the long arm of ISIS does not catch them.

In recent months, Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. and Ahmet Yayla, Ph.D. of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE)have begun an interview project and thus far interviewed seventeen such cadres and plan to interview more.

The project has begun to assemble a sample of ISIS defectors that can inform on the following:

1.     Motivations for joining

2.     Military and Ideological training

3.     Actual First Person Accounts of Life inside ISIS

4.     Reports on the Treatment of Women

5.     Reports on the Foreign Fighter involvement

6.     Reports on the ISIS Slave Trade

7.     Reports on the Brutality and Killing

8.     Reports on ISIS Financing

9.     Reasons for and Process of Defecting

10.  Mental Health Consequences of ISIS involvement

11.  Pictures and video that cadres have of actual events they took part in.

12.  Statements by former ISIS cadres of why they defected and why others should not join.

Thus far, all of the informants have risked their lives and undertook a gravely dangerous journey to defect from ISIS.  Some were ideological supporters right from the beginning—others less so—being more interested in money, survival, women etc., but all of our informants now despise ISIS.  All have willingly given us cautionary statements to Westerners and others who might be considering joining ISIS that along side of their first-person accounts of their lives inside ISIS will be used to discredit the terrorist group.

These interviews are now taking place in secret and recorded on tv-grade video.  Once edited and packaged for such Internet outlets as YouTube and other social media sites, they will be invaluable tools to place back on the Internet to use for prevention and dissuasion.  We can’t wait to publish these stories from the inside that we know will directly and powerfully confront the so-called “caliphate.”

Read the full report here.

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. is Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University in the School of Medicine and of Security Studies in the School of Foreign Service. She served with her husband, U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Daniel Speckhard from 2007-2010 during which time a large influx of refugees made their way from Turkey to Greece. She is author of Talking to Terrorists and coauthor of Undercover Jihadi. Her newly released book is Bride of ISIS.

Dr. Speckhard was responsible for designing the psychological and Islamic challenge aspects of the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq to be applied to twenty thousand detainees and eight hundred juveniles. She also has interviewed over four hundred terrorists, their family members and supporters in various parts of the world including Gaza, the West Bank, Chechnya, Iraq, Jordan and many countries in Europe. Website: www.AnneSpeckhard.com

Ahmet S. Yayla, Ph.D. is Professor and the Chair of Sociology Department at Harran University in south of Turkey by the Syrian border. Dr. Yayla is Research Fellow at ICSVE. Dr. Yayla served as Chief of Anti-terrorism Division at the Turkish National Police. He has earned his masters and Ph.D. degrees on the subject of terrorism and radicalization at the University of North Texas.

Dr. Yayla’s research mainly focuses on terrorism, sociology, dealing with terrorism without use of force, terrorist recruitment and propaganda, radicalization (including ISIS and Al Qaeda) and violence. He has mostly authored several works on the subject of terrorism. He has also been advisor to the United States Ohio Department of Homeland Security (December 2005 to April 2006) on issues of terrorism and interacting with Muslim Communities in the United States. Dr. Yayla also witnessed at the United States Congress and Senate, Homeland Security Committee and Subcommittee on Prevention of Nuclear and Biological Attacks (October 21st, 2006) on the subject of “Local Law Enforcement Preparedness for countering the threats of terrorism”.

References: [[i]] See: Tim Mak, & Youssef, N. (March 3, 2015). IS ranks grow as fast as U.S. bombs can wipe them out. The Daily Beast. URL: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/03/isis-recruits-thousands-of-new-fighters-despite-u-s-bombs.html; Kirk, A. (August 12, 2015). Iraq and Syria: How many foreign fighters are fighting for Isil. The Telegraph. URL: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11770816/Iraq-and-Syria-How-many-foreign-fighters-are-fighting-for-Isil.html; Neumann, P. (January 26, 2015). Foreign fighter total in Syria/Iraq now exceeds 20,000; surpasses Afghanistan conflict in the 1980s. ISCR. URL: http://icsr.info/2015/01/foreign-fighter-total-syriairaq-now-exceeds-20000-surpasses-afghanistan-conflict-1980s/ ; Schmid, Alex P.. Foreign (Terrorist) Fighter Estimates: Conceptual and Data Issues.  The Hague: ICCT, 2015, p. 11.

Terror – Whom to Fear

Abdelhamid Abaaoud ISIS photoI have interviewed hundreds of terrorists and their close associates in places as far-flung as Russia, Uzbekistan, Palestine, Morocco, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, France, Belgium and recently, I’ve been given unique access to Syrian ISIS defectors. These Syrian defectors repeatedly say that the foreign fighters—the Europeans in particular—are the “true believers” in the ISIS dream and its fantasized Caliphate that resonates more than European claims of liberté, égalité and fraternité for all.

Frustrated, bored, under-employed and enduring daily assaults on their dignity, some young European citizens are enticed by calls to build an alternative world order—one that they mistakenly believe will be ruled (at some point peacefully) by an idealized version of Islamic law.  The fantasy is powerful. According to the FBI, ISIS at present is drawing a thousand foreign fighters per month into its ranks—many from Western Europe.
When we see educated young European citizens (among them medical students, internet savvy technicians, and scientists) flowing in a steady stream to ISIS—youth who believe their future is aligned with a brutal and ruthless organization rather than with the Union of European nations – we need to reflect on why these citizens leave a peaceful country for a war zone.  Not to engender sympathy for those who embark on brutality, but to understand whom to fear.

Alienation isn’t new. I interviewed first and second-generation Moroccans and Tunisians during the widespread 2005 Paris car burnings and found young men deeply angry due to the discrimination and marginalization they felt they faced.  They didn’t see a meaningful future alongside their white French counterparts. I lived in Belgium for nearly eight years and found similar discontent and frustration, among first and second-generation Muslims with Belgian passports and good educations, who experienced discrimination in work and elsewhere due to their being North African immigrant and Muslim descent. But, back then, terrorist organizations were not using social discontent to recruit.

Disenfranchisement does not justify killing innocents, but it explains why some youth are enticed to join a revolution that promises a new world order where skin color, ethnicity and being Muslim are not an impediment to success. We label this as violent extremism (rightly so,) but they are sold an entirely different philosophy that promises they are soldiers in a war that at some point, will end with a just world order.

It also tells us a lot about whom to fear.

ISIS has vowed that they are sending thousands of their cadres into Europe, embedded among the refugees, but a thoughtful person needs to realize no ISIS cadre need spend time going through the lengthy registration and vetting procedures that refugees endure to legally remain in Europe, much less make it into the United States.  ISIS cadres have no need to register with the UNHRC as refugees because thousands of ISIS cadres are Europeans, and as such most have easy entry in and out of Europe and visa waivers that allow them entry into our country without the need to falsify refugee status. They are the Richard Reids, European citizens who have full rights to board a U.S. bound airplane and sit beside you or me on a transcontinental flight.

The terror attacks in Paris have rightly made us fearful and the San Bernardino shooting, which is now suspected to be an act of terrorism, brings that fear home. Many are saying these recent attacks underscore the fear we should have of Syrian refugees. That is wrong thinking. If we fear at all—it is the radicalized citizens in the West who believe that the Caliphate offers them a better future.

In the meantime the Syrians amassing at Europe’s borders are running away from a violent, heartless totalitarianism that rapes its women, forces them into sexual slavery and beheads their men. Their children are terrorized. They are desperately waiting for our compassion.

We should not nor can we afford to turn them away; doing so plays into al Qaeda and ISIS propaganda that claims Islam, Muslims and Islamic lands are under attack by the West and only they can save the day. We cannot afford that version of history to continue to be successfully sold.

Speckhard is adjunct associate professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University in the School of Medicine, Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism and author of Talking to TerroristsBride of ISIS, and coauthor of Undercover Jihadi. She was responsible for designing the psychological and Islamic challenge aspects of the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq to be applied to twenty thousand detainees and eight hundred juveniles. She also has interviewed over four hundred terrorists, their family members and supporters in various parts of the world including Gaza, the West Bank, Chechnya, Iraq, Jordan and many countries in Europe.

This report was first published under the same title in The Hill.

Mothers as Terrorists: When Mothers Kill and Die to Attain So-Called “Martyrdom” Status

Tashfeen MalikTwenty-seven-year old Tashfeen Malik, the wife of Syed Farook, and the female half of the California mass murder spree, is reported to have pledged her bay’ah–or oath of loyalty–to ISIS just before donning black military-style attire, taking up arms, an IED, and heading off with her husband, Syed Farook to kill fourteen people and wound seventeen others in cold blood. What would drive a woman to violate the most basic of maternal instincts–that is to protect her own child above all else, and to protect her relationship to her child, and in doing so to become a killer and die herself?

The answer lies in the sick ideologies circulating today and embraced by terrorism groups, including ISIS, who endorse a “martyrdom” ideology. Other examples of mothers who left their children to kill themselves (while murdering others), include Palestinian Reem Riyashi–mother of two children: three-year-old son Obedia and eighteen-month-old daughter Duha. Riyashi was preceded by Chechen female bombers–also mothers, who went on so-called “martyrdom” missions also leaving their children behind.

In January of 2004, during the Second Intifada, Riyash approached the Erez checkpoint leading out of Gaza while wearing a suicide bomb. According to the IDF, she thwarted security procedures there by pretending to be crippled–claiming to have plates in her legs that would set off the metal detectors, she requested a body search instead.

As with most women, she was not suspected of being a cold-blooded killer. But when taken to the private area for her check, Riyashi defied most expectations of women and mothers. She detonated her two-kilogram bomb–killing four Israelis (two soldiers, a policeman and a civilian security worker) and wounded an additional seven Israelis and four Palestinians. Riyashi and her Hamas senders took full advantage of the trust most of us put in the female gender, as well as in this instance, of Israeli decency to a purported handicapped individual–to kill as many as possible.

Riyashi’s suicide attack shocked the world, particularly as she had posed with her small children in photos taken before her attack. The appalling photos of a mother brandishing an automatic rifle with a rocket-propelled grenade in the foreground standing alongside her young children defied all understandings of normal motherhood. In one of the photos her son is clutching what looks like a mortar shell. At the time, Hamas replying to criticism for their hard-hearted and cynical use of a mother to kill and die, protested that the pictures revealed the depth of despair among Palestinian women and their strong desire to defeat the Israeli occupation.

Riyashi was the eighth Palestinian female suicide bomber. Following the attack of Darine Abu Aisha (the second Palestinian female suicide bomber), Sheikh Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, withdrew his objection to using women in such actions and switched instead to lavish praise of their involvement. He applauded Riyashi’s attack, urged other women to volunteer, and warned the Israelis to expect even more female bombers.

In many ways the Chechens and Palestinian female suicide bombers, and their supporters around the world endorsements of female involvement in terrorism, opened the doors for other female terrorists acting in behalf of conservative Islamic-related terrorists groups to join in. Following them, Al Qaeda sent white European Belgian Muriel Degaque–a wife, but not a mother–to bomb herself in Iraq, and al-Qaeda in Iraq also sent a rash of female bombers from inside Iraq to detonate themselves at various targets inside Iraq. 

ISIS, thus far, has not sent females out to “martyr” themselves but has made signs of considering it. And it is now looking as if Tashfeen Malik may have been their first ISIS inspired volunteer for that dubious “honor”.

Horrifically, three years after Riyashi bombed herself, Al-Aqsa TV, the official station of the Palestinian unity government (led by Hamas), began airing a fictionalized dramatization of Reem’s four-year-old daughter following in her mother’s footsteps. In it Duha Riyashi (played by a child actress) sings as her mother readies herself for a suicide bombing while asking in the sick lyrics of her song, “Mommy, what are you carrying in your arms instead of me?” Mourning her mother’s death in the video, the young girl finds a leftover stick of dynamite near her mother’s bedside table and picks it up as she vows to carry on, “My love will not be words. I will follow Mummy in her steps.”

Clearly to these kinds of groups, fixated on winning at all costs, and engaging in terrorism to do it–mothers and children, and the bonds between them–mean nothing, compared to carrying out acts in behalf of the “cause”.

It should also be noted, that Chechen suicide bombers–male and female–were encouraged by their ideologues to marry and have children before going on suicide missions. The logic was that they should fulfill all their “life duties,” including having children before engaging on their fantasized and final trip to Paradise.

Chechens who are fighting in Syria (who according to our ISIS defector informants in our ISIS Defectors Interviews Project) head the battles as the elite ISIS forces–the Navy SEALs, if you will–of ISIS. They follow the slogan of “Victory or Paradise,” meaning that death holds no sting and “martyrdom” is victory for them.

Indeed, if Tashfeen Malik and her husband Syed Farook were inspired by the plethora of sick, ISIS ideology that is presently on the Internet, or radicalized from more personal contact–their mindset would be the same. Death holds no sting and killing innocents is glorified.

We see evidence that the couple were preparing for what appears to be a series of attacks and were likely planning to carry them out much like the Tsarnaev’s did–starting with one target and carrying on to a bloody fight at the end–ending in death for at least the elder “true believer.”

However, it seems a workplace spat somehow triggered Syed Farook to decide to jump the gun and prematurely set into motion their series of attacks. That Syed went to work alone, got into an altercation, and then returned in battle gear with his wife to carry out his massacre–but that the couple “forgot” to bring their other bombs along to carry on as the Tsarnaev’s did from one bomb site to the next ultimately ending in the elder Tsarnaev’s death OR that they thought they could return for the other bombs seems to indicate they went off half cocked–perhaps out of nerves and anger.

Nevertheless, the couple was clearly not willing to surrender. When faced with overwhelming force–just like the Madrid train bombers, the Paris attackers and now them–they fought to the death and would likely have exploded themselves and others around them had they had their other devices along with them.

What this couple’s story underlines is that despite our wish to see females as the gentler gender, females can be lethal terrorists, that terrorist groups and now even ISIS are more than willing to make use of them, and that mothers are not an exception. Sadly, we must face that for those that have drunk the poison Kool-Aid of the “martyrdom” ideology put out by such groups as al Qaeda and ISIS–that killing and dying for the “cause” overrides every other normal instinct–including that of self-preservation and maternal love.

That is the enemy we face today. We must do everything we can to discredit and destroy this ideology and the groups that espouse it.

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. is Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University in the School of Medicine and Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism. She is author of Talking to Terrorists and coauthor of Undercover Jihadi. Her newly released book is Bride of ISIS. She has interviewed over four hundred terrorists, their family members and supporters in various parts of the world including Gaza, the West Bank, Chechnya, Iraq, Jordan and many countries in Europe. She was responsible for designing the psychological and Islamic challenge aspects of the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq to be applied to twenty thousand detainees and eight hundred juveniles. Website: www.AnneSpeckhard.com

The Lure of Becoming a Bride of ISIS

Austrian girl

PIC SHOWS:  Interpol is searching for two Austrian teenaged girls who they believe have been tricked into going to Syria to fight for ISIS.

Samra Kesinovic, 17, and her friend Sabina Selimovic–two beautiful, young Bosnian immigrant girls who left their families in Vienna, Austria in 2014 are reported again today to have been beaten to death after being caught trying to flee the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa

Indeed the fates of those who join ISIS with wide and shining eyes, only to later get disillusioned, is not pretty and often ends in death, beatings, beheadings and more. What makes Westerners, particularly young girls, want to join ISIS?

The allure for Western girls, particularly from Europe, to join ISIS as brides emanates from a number of things. First, if they perceive discrimination and marginalization as standing in their way to finding success in Europe, ISIS is offering a new world order in which race, ethnicity and particularly being Muslim are no longer obstacles. They also offer for Western women a traditional life style, marriage, adventure, a home (taken from others of course) and even a car to be part of the bargain. Likewise when young Western women first express interest in joining they are typically swarmed and/or groomed for hours with painstaking attention paid to helping them buy into the ISIS worldview. Sadly when they get there the facts on the ground don’t match the reality and then they have to risk their lives to escape and may not be able to–facing the prospect of beatings and beheadings as a result.

ISIS in its call to the Caliphate is also offering a new world order in which the current geo-political conflicts will, according to ISIS, be resolved with everyone ultimately living as Muslim in a utopian life governed by Islamic ideals–heady stuff for the young who are disheartened by real injustices in the world and still believe in the possibility of utopias. The violence necessary to get there is dismissed by recruiters as necessary for revolutions to succeed and who point out the current level of violence that many innocent Muslims are enduring living under despotic regimes. Who will save the Muslim world from suffering they ask, if not Muslims themselves? Certainly the West is failing to do so they point out.

To counter the narrative that groups like al Qaeda and ISIS are currently selling, we need to address the conflict zones, particularly in Syria and Iraq with speedy and well-thought out political solutions, and back home we need a civil rights movement–at least in Europe–to encourage the integration of now sidelined second generation immigrant Muslim kids, to help them succeed and be able to see their futures in the West, instead of with a horrific and violent organization–whether or not it claims to be the true Islam. Then their passions to change the world and their desire to be self actualized can happen without the involvement of groups like ISIS or al Qaeda coming into the mix.

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. is Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University in the School of Medicine and author of Talking to TerroristsBride of ISIS: One Young Girl’s Path into Homegrown Terrorism, and coauthor of Undercover Jihadi. She was responsible for designing the psychological and Islamic challenge aspects of the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq to be applied to twenty thousand detainees and eight hundred juveniles. She also has interviewed over four hundred terrorists, their family members and supporters in various parts of the world including Gaza, the West Bank, Chechnya, Iraq, Jordan and many countries in Europe.To see more on this topic, and to read an account based on an American girl who tried to join ISIS as a bride, see Bride of ISIS.

Taking in Refugees is not a Risk to National Security

Aylan Kurdi

Our concern should be about humanity, not terrorism

The image of the body of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi lying facedown on a Turkish beach has the world reeling in horror. Aylan’s journey ended in death amid a growing crisis in Europe surrounding the plight of refugees pouring in from Syria. Countries across Europe are at long last stepping up to receive desperate refugees. The U.S. should do more to help.

The U.S. has resettled only about 1,500 Syrian refugees since the crisis began in 2011. Congressional opponents opposed to taking in more often cite security concerns. Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina said Sunday that the U.S. should be “very careful about who we let enter this country from these war torn regions to ensure that terrorists are not coming here.”

But as a national security expert who has spent more than 20 years working alongside government defense and security experts, I know that the majority of Syrian refugees fleeing war are not using the opportunity of refugee status to embed themselves as terrorists in the West. The majority are trying to escape barrel bombs, chemical attacks, and barbaric violence, caught between the violence of a dictatorial regime and that carried out by terrorists.

They are, for the most part, much less likely to have been involved in terrorism than to have been the victims of it. In fact, refugees who become terrorists are extremely rare. There are only a small number of cases of refugees admitted into the U.S. who have been arrested on terrorism charges—the actual data shows that this is a rare phenomenon.

Refugees from Syria will be carefully vetted, and those with terrorist ties refused. Security concerns should not be a reason to turn away desperate doctors, teachers, nurses, engineers and salt-of-the-earth laborers who simply want to escape a horrific humanitarian crisis alongside their innocent children.

The world is experiencing the largest refugee population since World War II. Yet the portion of the U.S. budget going to help refugees has remained flat-lined. The entire U.S. foreign assistance budget makes up less than 1% of the federal budget and is stretched thin across a range of life-changing programs addressing issues including maternal and child health, water and sanitation development, vaccines, medicines and disease prevention, farming assistance, and children’s education. Only about an estimated 12% of the foreign assistance budget goes to humanitarian support for refugees caught in the crosshairs of war. The U.S. can do better.

After the fall of Saigon, President Gerald Ford set up an interagency task force that in one year resettled 130,000 Vietnamese refugees. In response to news reports that women and children were dying on overcrowded boats, President Carter made refugee resettlement a priority. These weren’t popular decisions, but these presidents showed moral leadership.

There has been a collective failure to halt the war in Syria. Resettlement is not the only solution, but it is a critical way the U.S. can support countries like Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and our European allies that are hosting millions of Syrian refugees. No parent should be faced with packing their family on a clandestine journey that ends in drowning as Alyan’s did.

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. is Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University in the School of Medicine and of Security Studies in the School of Foreign Service. She served with her husband, U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Daniel Speckhard from 2007-2010 during which time a large influx of refugees made their way from Turkey to Greece. She is author of Talking to Terrorists and coauthor of Undercover Jihadi. She was responsible for designing the psychological and Islamic challenge aspects of the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq to be applied to twenty thousand detainees and eight hundred juveniles. She also has interviewed over four hundred terrorists, their family members and supporters in various parts of the world including Gaza, the West Bank, Chechnya, Iraq, Jordan and many countries in Europe. Her newly released book is Bride of ISIS. Website: www.AnneSpeckhard.com

This piece was published by TIME September 9, 2015 http://time.com/4024473/taking-in-refugees-is-not-a-risk-to-national-security/

Why Ethical Psychologists Play an Important Role in Interrogations

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On Aug. 7, the American Psychological Association overwhelmingly approved a sweeping ban on any involvement by psychologists in national security interrogationsconducted by the U.S. government. This ban includes even non-coercive interrogations.

The vote was a knee-jerk reaction that some members felt was sorely needed to restore the organization’s reputation after an independent investigation led by David H. Hoffman, a Chicago-based lawyer. The probe found that some association officers and other prominent psychologists shielded APA members who participated in the CIA and Pentagon’s harsh interrogation programs during the George W. Bush administration. These programs involved “soft” torture and “enhanced” interrogation techniques and allowed the government to shield itself from claims of torture by saying health providers were overseeing what was being done.

The new APA ban forbids psychologists from conducting, supervising, being in the presence of or otherwise assisting in national security interrogations for military or intelligence entities, including private contractors working on their behalf. Psychologists also may not advise on conditions of confinement insofar as these might facilitate such interrogations. Psychologists are permitted to consult with the government on broad interrogation policy but may not become involved in interrogations or consult on the specific detention conditions for detainees.

In 2006 and 2007, I worked in Iraq with Task Force 134 on a program to challenge ideologically committed Islamic extremists. The Defense Department’s Detainee Rehabilitation Program was to be applied to 20,000 detainees and 800 additional juveniles. The idea was to try to engage detainees who had been exposed to, or adhered to, militant jihadi ideology in order to redirect them to other, nonviolent solutions. The initiative challenged the militant jihadi ideological attempts to justify violence against innocents and that addressed the psychological vulnerabilities in individuals for whom these hateful terrorist ideas resonated.

Far from violating human rights, APA standards or other ethics pertaining to the treatment of prisoners and minors, I was well aware of the abuses in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay and took extraordinary care to write the highest level of ethical care into my program. I also instilled in all the psychologists and imams I trained that our prisoners be treated with respect, care and dignity and not tricked or mistreated.

For me the APA ban is simply sidestepping responsibility for what the organization failed to do, and still has not done, in regard to the psychologists who took part in harsh interrogations or witnessed and abetted “soft” torture or so-called enhanced interrogation techniques for the U.S. military, other countries’ militaries and police, the CIA and so forth. Those psychologists should have been, and should still be, called up on ethics charges and have their APA memberships revoked. That the APA blindly allowed such ethics and human rights violations by its members is shameful, and that it continues not to address what was done is also shameful. It is also pure foolishness to tell all of us who risked our lives doing the right thing that we can no longer guide the military, the intelligence community and others who will certainly continue to use harsh techniques if not guided otherwise.

Those of us who abided by ethical guidelines and made sure that our government was provided with programs that were based in sound research and grounded in the humane treatment of other human beings, including detained prisoners, should be lauded and encouraged to continue doing so. Our military is full of ethical and well-educated psychologists, and it hires people like myself who maintain the highest principles — even when the APA is sticking its head in the sand. Sticking one’s head in the sand doesn’t undo past wrongs, nor does it prevent new ones from occurring.

Banning involvement in what the government is doing is simply refusing to take a stand for what is right. Enhanced interrogation and “soft” torture are, in my opinion, ethically wrong and not useful in obtaining reliable information. Some may find times and circumstances to justify their use — others like myself won’t. The interrogation of prisoners is not wrong and is a necessary part of our continued fight against terrorism. Psychologists can, and must, continue to play an important and ethical role in guiding our governments to do the right thing.

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. is Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University in the School of Medicine and of Security Studies in the School of Foreign Service. She is author of Talking to Terrorists and Bride of ISIS and coauthor of Undercover Jihadi and Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy SEAL’s Journey to Coming out Transgender. She has interviewed in the field and in prisons over four hundred terrorists, their close associates, family members and hostages and in 2006-2007 designed and wrote the psychological and Islamic challenge portions of the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq for the U.S. Department of Defense. Website:www.AnneSpeckhard.com (This post was first published in the Washington Post, August 16th, 2015.)