Back in 2014, you may have seen a number of stories on the news about women who had fled their home country in order to marry Daesh (or ISIS) militants.
The reports were often dressed up with the phrase ‘Jihadi Brides’, a typical turn of tabloid sensationalism that often overshadowed the larger issues: that many of these women went against their will, or were indoctrinated by Daesh propaganda into thinking it was the right thing to do.
Whatever the reasons behind the women’s decisions to flee, their families and communities must have feared they were all entering a life void of Islam and full of danger, uncertainty and oppression. A recent report from Syria and Iraq by the website Al Arabiya suggests these fears were justified.
In Mosul, Iraqi forces are in the process of driving Daesh out of the city. This seemed unthinkable a few years back, as the area was a major Daesh stronghold. A similar story is occurring in the Syrian city of Raqqa, where the terrorist group’s influence is quickly fading under the pressure of coalition-backed forces.
On the streets of Mosul, one wife of an Daesh militant told Al Arabiya a story steeped in regret: ‘We wish for nothing except to go back to our home countries. We regret our decisions to come here and join our husbands in the first place’.
In Raqqa, a woman called Noor al-Huda al-Qassim described how desperate the situation was following the decline of Daesh: ‘My husband came to me and said what is important for now is that you leave the state (ISIS) and we’ll find you a way to reach your family.’
His bright idea? To have Noor pose as a refugee and flee with other displaced civilians.
It can be easy to feel little sympathy for wives like Noor. For a start, many joined voluntarily after Daesh established a ‘marriage bureau’ in Syria for women who wanted to marry its militants. That was back in 2014. The combination of time and Daesh’s waning hold on the region has obviously dulled their enthusiasm.
So should we feel sorry for them? We’ll let you decide. But remember, they are human beings. Just like anyone, they can be lead astray by false promises.
As one woman said: ‘Above all, we regret joining a group that deviated from Islam.’
Featured image credit: Al Arabiya.