Iraqi authorities say they have captured some of the infamous ISIS women “biters” who would punish those accused of violating modesty dress codes by biting or using metal torture devices on exposed skin.
ISIS regulations in occupied areas required women to complete cover their bodies from shoes to gloves, with a full-face veil.
The women of ISIS’ police force, also known as the Hesba or Al-Khansa Brigades, would bite either as a punitive measure to get the women to cover up again or as a method of execution.
A year ago, Al-Arabiya reported that Iraqi women feared that the “biters” were slipping out with the refugee wave and infiltrating displacement camps, as the full-face veil would mean they couldn’t be identified as ISIS members by refugees. “Until this day, I wake up in the middle of the night trembling. Each time I feel footsteps next to my tent or a person bumping into it, I imagine it is one of the ‘biters’ of ISIS who has come to kill me,” one female survivor told the network.
One woman who escaped Mosul during ISIS rule told the UK’s Independent that the “biters” used metal clippers to cut off pieces of flesh; the woman’s sister had endured the excruciatingly painful punishment on her arm for forgetting her gloves at home.
A photo circulated of the suspected tool showed a large pair of metal tongs with a pair of long inward-facing spikes at each end.
Iraqi News reported last summer that Um Salma, a foreign national who was in charge of the “biter” squads, had fled the Mosul area with a large stash of stolen cash. “She had been behind the fatal biting and strangling of several local women in Mosul, which she did based on sentences issued by the Islamic State’s judges… The biters, according to reports, would either literally bite the bodies of violating females ferociously or use iron clippers for the purpose.”
On Sunday, Iraqi police said they had received tips from locals that some ISIS women were hiding out in villages south of Mosul. Nine women were arrested, including foreign nationals.
Police Maj. Sallam al-Ekeidi said three of the women turned out to be from the “biter” force — two Russians and a Syrian — and had killed women in Mosul, according to Iraqi News.
Earlier this month, Iraqi courts sentenced a French national, Djamila Boutoutaou, to life in prison for being a member of ISIS and condemned six Turkish women to death.