Abdul Ahad Rustam Nazarov, 28, a Tajik man who joined Daesh, is pictured during an interview with Reuters in Syria. File photo/ Reuters
A Tajik man who joined Daesh said many foreigners who enlisted in its self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria were jailed or killed for trying to leave.
The 28-year-old, who once drove a taxi in Moscow, said he handed himself over to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed group, from Daesh’s last holdout of Baghouz in eastern Syria last month after years of trying to escape.
SDF officials monitored and recorded a Reuters interview with the man, Abdul Ahad Rustam Nazarov, at an SDF centre in Rmeilan in Syria. Reuters could not verify his account.
Tajikistan has offered amnesty to those who quit Daesh and return home, provided they've committed no other crimes.
Nazarov says he never fought for Daesh. Parts of his account about his life were inconsistent, although other parts matched what others have said about Daesh, including its strict judicial system and its eventual defeat.
“I was jailed three times for trying to leave,” Nazarov said. “I wanted to come and see Islamic State for myself ... and to help those being oppressed by the Syrian government.
“But I didn't want to make a pledge of allegiance to the caliphate.”
Nazarov said most foreign men who travelled to Syria were immediately taken to Mosul in Iraq for military training.
Some refused and were punished, he said, describing a special Daesh judicial section that dealt with those trying to flee or refusing to pledge allegiance.
“Some friends were executed ... because they were not ready to commit to IS,” he said.
Nazarov said he tried more than once to escape to Turkey across the Syrian border. He said he made contact with authorities in Tajikistan to arrange for his own surrender. Tajik interior ministry and state security officials, speaking anonymously because they were not authorised to comment, said neither body had received requests from Nazarov.
Thousands of men from Central Asian are estimated to have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join Islamic State since 2014, when it declared its caliphate.
Daesh was driven from all territory it controlled in Iraq in 2017 and from its final redoubt of Baghouz in eastern Syria last month.
Some foreigners including Central Asians surrendered but most were killed, Nazarov said.
“There were experienced snipers in Daesh ranks who were from Chechnya. Most of them died in battle, especially in Mosul, Baiji and Raqqa,” he said.
Nazarov said Daesh militants tried to stop men surrendering to the SDF in Baghouz, locking them in cars and firing at them when they eventually fled.
The US-backed campaign to drive Daesh out of Iraq and Syria involved tough battles with hardened militants, especially in Mosul and Raqqa.
Nazarov said he once met Gulmurod Khalimov, a Tajik military commander who joined Daesh, in an internet cafe in Mosul frequented by militants. He believes Khalimov was killed fighting.
Nazarov said he wanted to be reunited with his pregnant wife, a Chechen now in al-Hol camp in Syria, where 60,000 people who fled Baghouz live. “My other two children starved in Baghouz,” he said.
The blast also killed four civilians and wounded three members of the Kurdish-led internal security forces known as the Asayish, the source said.
Three of the men have been convicted of Daesh membership and sentenced to death by Iraqi courts, while five have been given life sentences. Four of them told Reuters they were tortured in prison, a claim Reuters was unable to verify.
The 1991 and 2003 US wars on Iraq launched massive pillaging of the Eastern Arab World’s rich cultural heritage because that country could no longer effectively police its 10,000 archaeological sites, benefitting foreign and local looters.
US Defence Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Baghdad, as chaos swirled along the Turkey-Syria border because the Iraq military said on Tuesday that US forces crossing into Iraq as part of a pull-out from Syria do not have permission to stay and can only be there in transit.
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on Monday received a delegation from the French Colbert Committee participating in several cultural events in Abu Dhabi, at Qasr Al Bahr.
His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, met Australian and Chilean indigenous peoples participating in the Sharjah Architecture Triennial in the modern buildings of the Sharjah Art Foundation in the Mareija area.
Two maids working for a Gulf citizen used garbage bags to put whatever light and valuable items in them and put the garbage bags near a garbage container. The brother of one of them would come and pick up the items during the absence of the family members outside the country. The money and gold jewels stolen were worth Dhs28,000.
The Criminal Court in Dubai on Monday convicted two Asians for offering a bribe of Dhs3,000 to an inspector and a warehouse administrator at the Emirates Red Crescent-Dubai branch to pass and accept a benefactor’s donation of 150 tonnes of expired salt.