The blood-soaked executioners of ISIS have spared neither women nor children since the jihadist army established its caliphate a year ago, putting an estimated 74 kids and even more women to death for such offenses as practicing “magic” and refusing to fast during Ramadan.
A total of 3,027 people have been executed by ISIS since it declared itself a state under strict Islamic law in Syria and Iraq last June, according to a new report by the UK-based group, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
"Many of the charges against those executed are recorded as blasphemy and spying, but others include sorcery, sodomy, practicing as a Shia Muslim," the report states.
"Many of the charges against those executed are recorded as blasphemy and spying, but others include sorcery, sodomy, practicing as a Shia Muslim."
- New report on ISIS brutality
Just this week, two children whose ages were not known were crucified in the Mayadin, Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria after ISIS accused them of not properly fasting during Ramadan. The children’s bodies, put on public display on crossbars, each bore a sign explaining their violation during the holy month for Muslims that runs June 17 to July 17. With each execution justified by ISIS' medieval interpretation of the Koran, the group is attempting to portray itself as the true practitioners of Islam, say experts.
“Underlying all these executions is the apocalypse ideology of the final battle between the believers and the unbelievers,” said Jasmine Opperman, the director of Southern Africa Operations at the Terrorism, Research & Analysis Consortium. “ISIS is using executions to show its followers -- and would-be followers -- that the group is the only true representative of believers, not only in word, but action, which is why executions are featured so prominently.”
Other children died fighting for their lives.
“The violent Islamist group appears to demonstrate a particular interest in children, releasing videos of children fighting in cages and undertaking military training,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group said. “The report also details moves undertaken by the group to entice children to join, which include setting up offices called "cubs of the caliphate" that recruit children to fight for ISIS.”
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child released a report in February, documenting the many horrors ISIS has imposed on children who are Kurdish, Yazidi, Christian and even Muslim. Children – even those who are mentally challenged – are being tortured, crucified, buried alive, used as suicide bombers and sold as sex slaves, the report said.
“ISIS is hoping to spur current supporters around the world who are dormant, of which there are millions, into joining their caliphate by advertising acts like these, of which there are millions,” said Ryan Mauro, national security analyst for the Clarion Project, a nonprofit organization that educates the public about the threat of Islamic extremism. “They know that they can greatly increase their numbers by appealing to current radicals rather than the broader masses.”
Women are not spared the cruel brutality of ISIS, either.
The Syrian Observatory found that the terror group carried out more executions this week, murdering two married couples by beheading them publicly with a sword for “sorcery.”
“The Islamic State group executed two women by beheading them in Deir Ezzor province, and this is the first time the Observatory has documented women being killed by the group in this manner,” Rami Abdel Rahman, of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told the Daily Mail.
Other citizens suspected of practicing black magic or sorcery also have been killed, the organization reports, including a magician beheaded in recent weeks in the Iraqi province of Salahuddin.
“The practicing of anything that is not approved by Islamic State under their very strict interpretation of Islam is ‘Haram’ or forbidden,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director for the Florida-based Terrorism, Research & Analysis Consortium. “If the Islamic State thinks that sorcery is real, then black magic would be a threat to them and seen as a danger.”
ISIS stepped up its killing spree this week as it celebrated both Ramadan and its one-year anniversary as a caliphate in Iraq and Syria with three straight days of ruthless public punishments and executions. On June 30, 11 workers from al-Miadin endured live crucifixion and were forced to wear signs saying "70 lashes and to be crucified for 1 day for breaking the fast in Ramadan."
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the most recent killing spree is less than a week, after ISIS released a video of 15 men executed in three terrible ways: Drowned in cages, having their head blown off with explosives and burning them alive in a car hit with a rocket launcher.
Last Friday, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the death of 38 people in Tunisia who were gunned down, and another 27 people who died after a bomb rocked a Shia mosque in Kuwait.
“Islamic State executions are not merely retribution by the state for behavior seen as illegal,” said Khan, noting executions by the Islamic State include everything from burning alive victims, firing squads, beatings and beheadings, to drowning, explosions, and throwing people off of buildings. “The Islamic State uses executions to intimidate and dominate the local population, for diplomatic communiqués to world leaders, for recruitment purposes and to demonstrate the organization is in complete control.”
Malia Zimmerman is an award-winning investigative reporter focusing on crime, homeland security, illegal immigration crime, terrorism and political corruption. Follow her on twitter at @MaliaMZimmerman