Just when you think the Islamic State can’t do anything that would outrage civilized humanity any more than we already are, along comes this story in the New York Times that goes into excruciating detail about how rape is being used to recruit ISIS members and the twisted justification for it that ISIS says comes directly from the Koran.
The report also details how the sex-slave market works — its bureaucracy, its logistics, and its organization.
The article starts with a horrific description of an ISIS fighter raping a 12-year-old girl:
In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old girl, the Islamic State fighter took the time to explain that what he was about to do was not a sin. Because the preteen girl practiced a religion other than Islam, the Quran not only gave him the right to rape her — it condoned and encouraged it, he insisted.
He bound her hands and gagged her. Then he knelt beside the bed and prostrated himself in prayer before getting on top of her.
When it was over, he knelt to pray again, bookending the rape with acts of religious devotion.
“I kept telling him it hurts — please stop,” said the girl, whose body is so small an adult could circle her waist with two hands. “He told me that according to Islam he is allowed to rape an unbeliever. He said that by raping me, he is drawing closer to God,” she said in an interview alongside her family in a refugee camp here, to which she escaped after 11 months of captivity.
The systematic rape of women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority has become deeply enmeshed in the organization and the radical theology of the Islamic State in the year since the group announced it was reviving slavery as an institution. Interviews with 21 women and girls who recently escaped the Islamic State, as well as an examination of the group’s official communications, illuminate how the practice has been enshrined in the group’s core tenets.
The trade in Yazidi women and girls has created a persistent infrastructure, with a network of warehouses where the victims are held, viewing rooms where they are inspected and marketed, and a dedicated fleet of buses used to transport them.
A total of 5,270 Yazidis were abducted last year, and at least 3,144 are still being held, according to community leaders. To handle them, the Islamic State has developed a detailed bureaucracy of sex slavery, including sales contracts notarized by the ISIS-run Islamic courts. And the practice has become an established recruiting tool to lure men from deeply conservative Muslim societies, where casual sex is taboo and dating is forbidden.
A growing body of internal policy memos and theological discussions has established guidelines for slavery, including a lengthy how-to manual issued by the Islamic State Research and Fatwa Department just last month. Repeatedly, the ISIS leadership has emphasized a narrow and selective reading of the Quran and other religious rulings to not only justify violence, but also to elevate and celebrate each sexual assault as spiritually beneficial, even virtuous.
The Islamic State is not stupid in the ways of marketing and public relations. I used to think that much of the gruesomeness of their executions was due to a savvy understanding of how to get maximum exposure, and play on the visceral fear of westerners.
That may have been part of it. But what this sex-slave story reveals goes far beyond the usual misogyny of fundamentalist Muslims. It is a direct assault on civilization — all civilizations, not just western. Committing mass executions using horrific methods is a means to justify to themselves the holiness of their cause — the bloodier, the more sacred the act.
What makes ISIS so dangerous is that, like the Nazi Party, sociopaths are attracted by the inherent violence and are welcomed with open arms. In the case of ISIS, there is the added incentive of doing God’s will — even as you’re raping a 12-year-old girl.
Muslim nations don’t realize the threat ISIS poses both militarily and spiritually to their religion and culture. In truth, ISIS is a problem for Islam, not the west. It’s clear now that they have millions of supporters in Islamic countries around the world — and that is only going to grow in the years ahead.
Judging by how Islamic countries have dealt with ISIS so far, and how the west has responded, I am not confident that they can be stopped. Unless there is a radical change in how the threat is perceived and confronted, there appears to be little chance that the idea that is ISIS can be defeated.