Imagine if social media and modern technology — cell phone that capture videos and still images easily and can be transmitted to the world in seconds — existed at the time of the Holocaust or even the Rwandan genocide. It’s no guarantee that the world would have responded any more responsibly, but it gives no excuse for heads to remain buried in the sand.
Since ISIS claimed Syria’s sixth-largest city, Raqqa, as the capital of the Islamic State, and sacked the even-larger Iraqi city of Mosul, their PR isn’t the only voice of what life is really like under sharia.
These activists have captured undercover videos and photos of ISIS’ crimes, have issued daily reports about the regime’s murders and rapes, and have even offered first-hand witness of what coalition airstrikes are and aren’t hitting. They know if they get caught there is no trial, no due process, just summary execution.
ISIS killed two of these activists — Bashir Abduladhim al-Salem, 20, and Faisal Hussain al-Habib, 21 — in a new video titled “They Are the Enemy, So Beware of Them” (a line from the Quran).
They were accused of taking photographs of ISIS activities, then encrypting the files and smuggling them to Turkey. Writes Michael Weiss at The Daily Beast:
Al-Salem and al-Habib are then tied to wooden posts and shot through the head with pistols at point-blank range by two ISIS gunmen. The camera lingers on their corpses and even captures the sound of blood dripping from their head wounds onto their jumpsuits. The video ends, ominously, with a third man who says, “My name is Mohammed al-Mousa,” in what appears a grotesque “teaser” for a forthcoming execution video. The [Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently] source told The Daily Beast that the speaker is [founding RBSS member] Hamoud al-Mousa’s father, whom ISIS did indeed capture three months ago. “They threaten us: ‘If all of you don’t surrender, we will burn him in a cage.’”
“A media activist documents the violations committed by the group as much as he can with whatever equipment or tools he has,” said another Syrian activist who oversees an anti-ISIS organization in Deir ez-Zor. “Despite ISIS’s monitoring—by checking cellphones at checkpoints, sudden raids into Internet cafes, arbitrary arrests—media activists working to document violations have become much savvier about security, which helps them to stay safe.”
…Originally 17 in number, the membership of RBSS dwindled to 12 after one of the NGO’s founding members, Motaz, was captured by ISIS and executed in a public square by being thrown off a high building.
Several weeks ago, one of the group’s activists, Abu Ward al-Raqqawi told The Daily Beast: “I can’t imagine it. [ISIS did] this in a crowded area and they asked the people to come to see what would happen. The people who are watching the execution are children—so that the children will be terrorists in the future. They will be killers. ISIS is trying to brainwash the children.”
Abu Ward said the jihadis drove around Raqqa in cars “trying to catch anyone who did anything wrong, such as smoking in the street. Sometimes they make checkpoints in areas to check the civilians’ cellphones, to see if anyone has recorded any videos or photos. If he has music on his phone, he’s arrested. If he has any picture of the city, ISIS will execute him. That’s what happened with our friend.”
RBSS founder Abu Ibrahim Raqqawi tweeted today, “I am good thanks for all who ask about me.”