Author: Bethan McKernan
An Isis militant detained by Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq has given details of his life as part of the brutal jihadist organisation.
Amir Hussein first joined extremist fighters at the age of 14, he told his captors, after leaving his broken home in the Iraqi city of Mosul. At 21, detained after an Isis counter-attack on the Kurdish city of Kirkuk in October 2016, he was so strong he “snapped the plastic handcuffs off his wrists,” a Kurdish counter terrorism agent told Reuters, after granting the news organisation a rare interview with an incarcerated fighter.
Around 100 civilians and members of the security forces died in the October attack, launched as revenge for the ongoing US-backed coalition efforts to drive Isis from their stronghold of Mosul.
Hussein, who now lives in a tiny cell with a small barred window, where a Quran and a blanket are his only possessions, said that he doesn’t regret his actions.
The group’s leaders taught him how to kill with ease and gave a “green light” to rape as many women as he wanted, he said, describing going from house to house of Iraq’s minority Yazidi people.
“Young men need this,” he said. “This is normal.”
As Isis blitzed across Iraq in 2014 from neighbouring Syria they massacred thousands of Yazidi men and took many women as slaves. Survivors’ stories documented by rights groups are chilling.
Kurdish security officials, while they did not confirm the details of Hussein’s story, said they did have evidence that he had committed rape and murder, but did not know the scale of his crimes.
Hussein said he also killed about 500 people since joining Isis in 2013.
“We shot whoever we needed to shoot and beheaded whoever we needed to beheaded,” he said, adding that while killing was at first difficult, it became easier with time.
“Seven, eight, ten at a time. Thirty or 40 people. We would take them in desert and kill them.
“I would sit them down, put a blindfold on them and fire a bullet into their heads,” he said. “It was normal.”