A new video secretly filmed by two women inside Raqqa, Syria shows an inside view of what ISIS has made its de facto capital.
Militants captured the northern Syrian city in 2014. Since then, foreign militants have flocked to the city and other strongholds under their control, instituting strict control over those who live there.
Minor infractions can carry major punishments, and women have few rights under ISIS’ strict enforcement of Shariah law.
“I can’t wait to dress the way we used to in the past,” says one of two women who filmed there, at the risk of being killed by militants if discovered. The video was shot in late winter for Expressen TV, a Swedish affiliate of CNN.
Here is the terrifying world they are forced to live in.
The women are forced to wear veils in public, under threat of public flogging or worse. They are covered and have their voices changed for interviews, since they remain in Raqqa.
Their hidden spy cameras show what life is like on Raqqa’s streets.
One goes into a shop, just as a fighter armed with an AK-47 walks past.
ISIS has instituted strict Shariah law, which requires women to be covered from head to toe. That interpretation apparently even includes faces on packages of hair dye.
Inside a taxi, the radio plays music praising the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “You instill fear into the enemy,” the singer proclaims. “The women of paradise are calling. I volunteer for martyrdom.”
The taxi driver tells the women that if he picked up only one of them, he would be punished with violence, along with his female passenger.
One woman describes watching her first execution: “I was shocked. It was the first time ever I saw anything like that,” she says.
Many of ISIS’ executions and punishments are carried out at the busy al-Na’im roundabout, a public square of sorts. There is also a cage there to detain people accused of crimes.
“They execute with bullets, desecrate the body, decapitate it, stick the head on a spike and put it on display at the roundabout,” one of the women says. “Or they will put the body on the road and force cars to run it over until nothing is left.”
The video also shows some of the city’s nicer, much larger, buildings, which the women say have been stolen from their Syrian owners by foreign fighters.
Even if they wanted to flee, they can’t, since one of the women explains that ISIS fighters take their ID cards. “They confiscate the ID cards so they can use them when they flee to Turkey.”
Now watch the full video showing inside Raqqa.
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