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My Brother, the Martyr for Islamic State

BAnne Speckhard, Ph.D.

“My Brother, the Martyr for Islamic State” is ICSVE’s newly released video in the Breaking the ISIS Brand–ISIS Cadres Counter-Narrative Project. “My Brother, the Martyr for the Islamic State” produced by ICSVE’s Zack Baddorf is based on Anne Speckhard’s and Ahmed Yayla’s interview in Turkey of Syrian ISIS defector, Abu Hamza. When the Syrian uprising began, Abu Hamza was fired upon and jailed by Syrian forces. Upon his release, he first joined the Free Syrian Army but later joined ISIS with his younger brother, believing they were good Muslims. Over time he saw horrific killings and his brother was also killed leaving him with doubts and posttraumatic grief. Abu Hamza defected and fled to Turkey where he continues to have nightmares and live in fear of ISIS. The transcript of the video clip is below and the video can be viewed here .

Title:  My Brother, the Martyr for Islamic State

0:05     The revolution started.

0:07     We started to protest against the [Syrian] regime.

0:12     The regime oppressed people.

0:15     The people were hungry.

0:17     There was oppression and corruption.  There were a lot of things.

0:24     We participated in many of the protests.

0:29     In the beginning, we would protest every Friday.

0:35     Then we protested every day.

0:41     [The regime] started to shoot at us

0:46     with real bullets.

0:52     [I was arrested one time] – for about a month, a month and a half.

0:53     ABU HAMZA

Former ISIS Soldier

1:03     They hit us. They insulted us.  They cursed at us.

1:07     We saw torture.

1:08     There is a saying by the Messenger of Allah (Peace be Upon Him):

1:14     ‘Arm yourself with even an inch of iron.’

1:16     We had weapons that belonged to the tribes.

1:22     We started to carry weapons.

1:26     We fought the regime.

1:27     I joined a faction of the Free Syrian Army.

1:33     I stayed with the Free Syrian Army for a year.

1:47     At the beginning of 2013, [ISIS] started to emerge.

1:51     They were teaching shariah law.

1:54     I wanted to join [ISIS].

1:59     I pledged alliance.

2:00     Then I took a shariah training course [in Syria].

2:04     In the training, they taught us about religion, prayers, jihad.

2:10     They fill out heads with the “correct” religious teachings.

2:16     They also taught us how to use light weapons at first.

2:26     and later we used guns, rocket launchers, mortars, then eventually tanks.

2:32     They wanted us to be courageous and to love fighting and jihad.

2:43     They choose the martyrs.

2:50     [They chose] the people ruthless in fighting, and  those who have faith and love jihad.

3:00     Usually, [the Sheikh] chooses the youngest people—17, 19, 20-year-olds.

3:09     They are kids.

3:10     They take them to carry out martyrdom operations.

3:16     The martyr blows himself up in a car.

3:21     My brother and I joined the Jaysh al-Khilafat unit of ISIS.

3:28     After five or six months, my brother died as a martyr during an attack on an airport.

3:32     He was three years younger than me.

3:34     He had defected from the regime [army].

3:38     I used to love ISIS.

3:43     I wanted to fight in battles for ISIS and I did. I participated in battles.

3:48     Then I started seeing the negative side of it.

3:55     I saw horrible sights.

3:59     I saw beheadings. I saw corpses. I saw people being killed.

4:05     They spare no mercy for people who defect or for the murtad [apostates].

4:13     They are worse than the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

4:16     When I saw those things, I decided to defect.

4:23     I told [a smuggler] that I wanted to go to Turkey.

4:27     He took [my money] and helped me cross the border.

4:32     I had been [with ISIS] for about a year and a half, starting at the end of 2013.

4:43     Even [in Turkey], I’m still scared [of ISIS].

4:45     I dream of them [ISIS]

4:47     I jump out of bed. I dream that they are beheading me,

4:52     torturing me and killing my family.

4:57     I’m always afraid of them; for example,

5:00     walking down the street, I’m afraid someone [from ISIS] will hit me.

5:11     The Truth Behind the Islamic State

5:15     Sponsored by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. is Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University in the School of Medicine and Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) where she heads the Breaking the ISIS Brand—ISIS Defectors Interviews Project. She is the author of: Talking to Terrorists, Bride of ISIS and coauthor of ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate; Undercover Jihadi; and Warrior Princess. Dr. Speckhard has interviewed nearly 500 terrorists, their family members and supporters in various parts of the world including Gaza, West Bank, Chechnya, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and many countries in Europe. 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. Her publications are found here:

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