‘I joined ISIS to fight against Assad, but it was a mistake’: Dissident

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ARA News – Exclusive 

Beirut, Lebanon – “The well-organized formation of the Islamic State (IS/ISIL) and its efforts to impose Islamic regulations through its recently established institutions have helped the extremist group to gain the support of thousands of residents in the areas of control in Iraq and Syria,” says a dissident from the group.

Under the condition of anonymity, the IS dissident talked to ARA News in Lebanon, saying that the group’s growing power obliged many to join its ranks “to fight for the proclaimed Caliphate”.

“They make you believe their claims of bringing justice to the suppressed people in Syria,” he said.

The dissident has served in the ranks of the extremist IS group in Raqqa province, northeast Syria. He said that the IS militants try to “brainwash” those left in the province with claims of resistance against the Assad regime.

“As the Assad regime systematically bombed Syrian cities and towns, and killed hundreds of thousands of people, anyone with some power claiming to oppose this regime would easily gain those people’s support. This is what happened in some areas of Raqqa following the control of the Islamic State,” he told ARA News in an exclusive interview. 

“I was willing to take up arms and fight against this brutal regime, and joining the ranks of the IS was my only option at that time,” the dissident said, in reference to the time he joined the extremist group in summer of 2013.

“However, after the group started killing and displacing thousands of civilians, as well as attacking headquarters of the armed opposition like the Free Syrian Army (FSA), I started to reconsider my choice (of joining IS ranks), and started thinking about a way to escape, but it took me months before I got the opportunity to do so,” he said. 

The dissident from the ranks of IS added that the large arsenal of weapons the group owns made it a source of attraction to many foreign fighters.

“Every day I saw young militants from foreign nationalities arriving in Raqqa to join the IS. I wasn’t surprised because the group is capable of providing privileges to those joining its ranks and waving its flag,” he said. 

According to the dissident, Iraqi and Saudi members of the group generally occupy high-ranked positions in the IS.

Regarding the way the IS runs public institution in Raqqa, he told ARA News: “There is a high degree of commitment among those administering the organization of daily life under their claimed Caliphate. In Raqqa, there are committees observing all activities taking place in the city and its surroundings. With the public executions and punishments, the IS militants created a state of panic among the residents, who hesitate before violating any regulations imposed by the group on their daily life.”

The young man mentioned the stages of becoming an active members in the IS, “starting from a four-month intensive religious course, followed by a two-month training on using arms, then a specialized committee decides whether to accept a new member in the IS or not”.

“IS controls all livelihood aspects in Raqqa,” he said, “Thus it monitors all people’s actions, which makes it difficult not to attend IS daily religious lessons that introduce the group’s dogma.”

The young dissident asserted that suicidal operations are organized and many members are keen on carrying out such operations.

“There is a list of newly registered volunteers, and sometimes it takes months until you have the claimed privilege of bombing yourself in a suicidal operation set by the group’s leadership,” he asserted.  

The source pointed out that the Islamic State’s experienced preachers and trainers are able to possess people’s minds in a record time “due to the extremely developed educational methods they utilize”.  

Talking about the US-led coalition’s airstrikes on IS strongholds, the dissident said: “People in the IS-held areas believe that there is a coordination between the group and the international coalition, which makes the latter’s airstrikes on IS inaccurate and indirect in many cases.”

“With the continuity of the war in Syria, the IS will remain present on our arena, and its presence mainly serves the Assad regime, because this group took the attention of the media as well as the international community, while the role of Assad in destroying Syria and leading the country to this chaos is largely marginalized at the moment,” the dissident concluded. 

 

Interviewed by: Adel Hassan

Source: ARA News 

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