TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -RT’s Murad Gazdiev spoke to some of the 19 Russian speaking women and 26 children who found themselves in the Syrian port city of Latakia. They had fled from all over the country, but mainly from the cities that were long held by the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL).
They managed to flee when the grip of IS weakened on Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor and Mayadin. They told RT that Syrian Kurds helped them escape and contacted the Russian authorities. Many of the women claim they had been simply following their terrorist husbands along an ill-fated route. “From the very beginning I wanted to leave Syria. But I didn’t know how,” a woman with a toddler in her arms told RT, “Then I ran away from my husband and tried to reach the Kurds in Raqqa. They helped me.”
Another woman told RT that she wanted to flee Islamic State together with her husband. Apparently, it didn't work out with him, as he is still in the ‘caliphate.’ “It was dangerous to flee directly. For three or four months we were trying to find a way out of Syria. My husband wanted to escape as well. But it’s impossible for him,” she said.
Another ‘ISIS wife,’ who used to live in the city of Mayadin in eastern Syria, was clearly disappointed with the rules of the ‘caliphate.’ “There never was any civilization, no economy like it was always described. There were only [Islamic] courts and only if you [have] a high rank, they are on your side. Otherwise you are nothing,” she said. “Bombs were falling on us like rain.” She then shared a harrowing story of what she lived through: “I happened to be buried under the rubble four times with my child.”
A teenage boy is among those who escaped the terrors of Islamic State. He told RT his family attempted to flee IS on several occasions. “When we first tried to flee, IS police caught and imprisoned us. In total we were taken to prison on three separate occasions,” the boy said. His father, an alleged Islamic state fighter, was once detained and one day the boy was told that he didn’t make it. “The last time they didn't release my father and afterwards they said he died. It was horrible. IS was hunting us, plus we had to deal with air bombardments,” he recalled. It’s not clear where the boy’s mother is and whether she is among the women in the RT video.
The issue of ISIS wives returning home remains contentious. Some argue that these women should be given a chance to rehabilitate and “repent for their crimes” or taken to court. “Certainly the wives and children are innocent victims in this play,” British political commentator Mo Ansar told RT in September.
“The answer is not disenfranchising them and making them stateless. All that is going to do is increase the number of people who are going to be turning to terror as a way of retribution towards the West.”
However, Andre Walker, a political commentator for the New York Observer, believes that these women de facto joined a terrorist organization and should be punished accordingly. “These are people who are dangerous extremist terrorists. All of our countries should support Syria and Iraq in ensuring that these people are properly prosecuted and brought to justice,”he said.