I am a 14-year-old Yazidi girl given as a gift to an ISIS commander. Here’s how I escaped. Thus the headline in the Washington Post introduces a harrowing tale documented by Mohammed A. Salih a journalist based in Erbil. He covers the conflict in northern Iraq for several international news organizations.
Sa;oj writes: This is the story told to me by a 14-year-old Yazidi girl I’ll call “Narin,” currently staying in northern Iraqi Kurdistan. I am a Kurdish journalist with a journalism degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia who covers northern Iraq as a freelancer for several international news outlets. I heard about Narin’s tale through a Yazidi friend who knew her. Aside from translating from Kurdish and excerpting her story in collaboration with Washington Post editors, the only things I changed are all the names, at Narin’s request, to protect her and other victims from reprisal; many of her relatives are still in captivity.
As the sun rose over my dusty village on Aug. 3, relatives called with terrifying news: Jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) were coming for us. I’d expected just another day full of household tasks in Tel Uzer, a quiet spot on the western Nineveh plains of Iraq, where I lived with my family. Instead, we scrambled out of town on foot, taking only our clothes and some valuables.
After an hour of walking north, we stopped to drink from a well in the heart of the desert. Our plan was to take refuge on Mount Sinjar, along with thousands of other Yazidis like us who were fleeing there, because we had heard a lot of stories about Islamic State brutality and what they had done to non-Muslims. They’d been converting religious minorities or simply killing them. But suddenly several vehicles drew up and we found ourselves surrounded by militants wearing Islamic State uniforms. Several people screamed in horror; we were scared for our lives. I’ve never felt so helpless in my 14 years. They had blocked our path to safety, and there was nothing we could do.
For more on the conflict in the Middle East, consider the battle of words between Sen. John McCain and Jay Carney, former Obama Press Secretary now CNN talking head.
“I’m astounded that Mr. Carney should say that the Free Syrian Army is now stronger,” McCain said. “In fact, they have been badly, badly damaged.”
“Well, that’s not that I said, Senator,” Carney countered. “If I could, sir, what I said is, if we know a great deal more now about the makeup of the opposition.”
“Come on, Jay, we knew all about them then,” McCain quipped. “You just didn’t choose to know. I was there in Syria.”
“We we knew about them. Come on, you guys were the ones — it’s your boss was the one when the entire national security team wanted to arm and train them that he turned them down, Mr. Carney,” he continued.
Carney then told the Arizona senator that they would “have to agree to disagree” on the issue, but McCain wasn’t ready to let the argument go.
“No, facts are stubborn things, Mr. Carney, and that is his entire national security team, including the Secretary of State, said we want to arm and train and equip these people and he made the unilateral decision to turn them down,” McCain said. “The fact he didn’t a residual force in Iraq, overruling all of his military advisers, is the reason why we’re facing ISIS today.” See the exchange below: