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Marriage in the Islamic State

By Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. 

This video clip features Ibn Mesud, an eighteen-year-old Syrian ISIS defector from al Hasakah, Syria interviewed in December 2015 by Anne Speckhard and Ahmet S. Yayla in southern Turkey. Marriage in the Islamic State was produced by Zack Baddorf and ICSVE staff.

In this clip Ibn Mesud tells the story of a foreign fighter who seeing a married woman on the street became obsessed with her and began stalking her. Following the woman home, he approached the woman’s husband—thinking he was approaching her father—for marriage. Even after learning that she was married and had three small children, the foreign fighter continued to follow and stalk her.

Ultimately, he framed her husband, accusing him of being a Free Syrian Army supporter and got him imprisoned.  Then he pursued the woman who had fled to her parents, finally forcing her to marry him.

Expressing his disgust, Ibn Mesud states, “It’d be better to eat dirt than join ISIS.” He also prays that Allah will help him to overcome the memories of everything he witnessed and experienced while serving ISIS and warns others not to join this group, which he labels as unrighteous.

The timed transcript of Marriage in the Islamic State is below and the video clip can be viewed here.

Marriage in the Islamic State

0:01     Once we were with someone, a foreign fighter.

0:08     He saw a covered woman.

0:13     He liked her. He thought that she was multazima [conforming to Islamic practices].

0:17     He started following her.

0:19     One time, then again, he kept following her everywhere.

0:25     Once when she went to buy some things, he followed her in his car.

0:30     IBN MESUD

Former ISIS Child Soldier

She looked at him normally. She just ignored him.

0:35     Fearing he might take her away, she didn’t even talk to him.

0:40     He kept on stalking her again and again. He followed her home.

0:48     She was young.

0:51     He knocked at her door.  A man opened it.

0:56     The man said in the customary manner, ‘Salaam Aleikum, how are you brother?’

1:01     ‘Please come in.’

1:02     The foreign fighter went in and had tea.

1:07     He came back [to the house] a second time.

1:10     He stalked her [again] and followed her to the market.

1:14     He liked her.

1:16     He came back [to the house] and said,

1:18     ‘I saw your daughter in the market and I like her. I   want to marry her.  Do you agree?’

1:25     The man answered, ‘I don’t have daughters.’ The foreign fighter replied, ‘Yes you do.’

1:30     ‘No, this is my wife,’ he explained, and he called for her.

1:35     She came in wearing her hidjab [without her face covered],

1:38     because she was at home.

1:41     ‘This is her,’ [her husband said].

1:43     ‘She is my wife,’ [he explained]. But the foreign fighter didn’t believe him.

1:47     He was obsessed with her. I don’t know why.

1:55     He was fascinated with her.

1:59     He insisted on marrying her and taking her away  from her husband.

2:04     She had two little girls and a child about three years old.

2:12     He incriminated the husband,

2:15     saying he is a murtadeen [apostate] and that he is a spy for the Free Syrian Army.

2:20     They took [the husband] to prison.

2:23     They kept him in prison. Only Allah knows where they took him.

2:29     The woman knew what had happened and tried to run away but he kept watching her.

2:37     She went to her parents’ house. She stayed there for two to three months.

2:42     At the end, he took her by force from her parents.  He married her.

2:50     It’d be better to eat dirt than join ISIS.

2:57     They are not righteous.

3:01     People live in darkness under their rule.

3:04     The truth is, I am still suffering from what I have seen.

3:13     I hope Allah Almighty will help me forget those  things to be able to start a new life.

3:24     I tell you again: ISIS is not righteous.

3:29     The Truth Behind the Islamic State

3:33     Sponsored by the International Center for the

Study of Violent Extremism

3:38     See more at

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D.,is Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) and serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. She has interviewed over 600 terrorists, their family members and supporters in various parts of the world including in Western Europe, the Balkans, Central Asia, the Former Soviet Union and the Middle East. In the past two years, she and ICSVE staff have been collecting interviews (n=78) with ISIS defectors, returnees and prisoners, studying their trajectories into and out of terrorism, their experiences inside ISIS, as well as developing the Breaking the ISIS Brand Counter Narrative Project materials from these interviews. She has also been training key stakeholders in law enforcement, intelligence, educators, and other countering violent extremism professionals on the use of counter-narrative messaging materials produced by ICSVE both locally and internationally as well as studying the use of children as violent actors by groups such as ISIS and consulting on how to rehabilitate them. In 2007, she was responsible for designing the psychological and Islamic challenge aspects of the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq to be applied to 20,000 + detainees and 800 juveniles. She is a sought after counterterrorism experts and has consulted to NATO, OSCE, foreign governments and to the U.S. Senate & House, Departments of State, Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, Health & Human Services, CIA and FBI and CNN, BBC, NPR, Fox News, MSNBC, CTV, and in Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, London Times and many other publications. She regularly speaks and publishes on the topics of the psychology of radicalization and terrorism and is the author of several books, including Talking to Terrorists, Bride of ISIS, Undercover Jihadi and ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate. Her publications are found here: and on the ICSVE website

Follow @AnneSpeckhard

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