Kocho is a small village in Northern Iraq which ISIS had tried to wipe off the map when the militant outfit unleashed the worst kind of terror and brutality on men, women and children in 2014.
It is from here a 15-year-old school girl, Lamia Aji Bashar, was captured by Daesh fighters and kept in captivity for 20 months. Blinded in one eye after a landmine attack claimed the lives of two of her friends while escaping, she recounts with tears and horror, her sordid tale of ISIS captivity.
"I belong to Kocho village. It was August 3 in 2014 . The ISIS came to our village and killed all the men there and held us in captivity. They captured women and children. We were transferred to another place where all women were kept. They had separated the girls from the place where the women and children were being kept. They also took us to a place in Mosul and killed all the older women. Around 400 men and 80 women were killed in one place at a given time. They took me and my sister to Mosul where many Yazidi girls had been kept in captivity. Initially, we were taken to Raqqa in Syria (declared the capital of the caliphate) and kept in a big hall where a Daesh from Saudi came and took both me and my sister. This Daesh fighter then raped both me and my sister and we stayed with him for two days at his place before he brought us back to this hall and took other Yazidi girls. Then another Daesh fighter came and took me away. I tried to commit suicide by cutting my veins because I was in a very bad situation. This Daesh fighter was very bad to me and I stayed with him for around one week. I was tortured and beaten and I tried to escape from there because he was treating me very badly. I was alone in that house with him. Once I managed to escape and went to a Muslim family in the neighborhood but they gave me back to the Daesh fighters. They could not save me. So, again I was tortured and they beat me up and I was chained and locked and not given food for days. Once I tried to jump from the vehicle and escape but they captured me. Since I was in Syria at that time, I did not recognise any place. So even when I was trying to run away and escape, the Daesh fighters used to capture me again. They punished me and put me in an underground prison for several days, without food and water and later sold me to another Daesh fighter in Syria."
"This Daesh fighter brought me to Mosul in Iraq and made me live with his family which used to treat me like a slave. They were very bad to me. He sexually and physically abused me and I escaped again. But they caught me again in Mosul. The next Daesh fighter who bought me used to make bombs and forced me to work with him in making suicide bombs. I was there for four months. Then I escaped again but they captured me and brought me to a Sharia court and wanted to cut me or kill me. The judge decided to cut my hands but one of the Daesh fighters said he will sell me. But I was punished and tortured again. They brought me to the slavery mart then where the Yazidi girls were being kept. The next Daesh fighter who was a physician, a doctor in a hospital in Iraq, was very bad and abused all Yazidi girls. After one year, we tried to escape. I and my two friends escaped and unfortunately on the night we escaped, we were still on our way when we reached a field and we did not know there were mines there. One of my friends stepped on one of the mines which exploded and they got killed. I lost my eye. I was found by a smuggler who took me to the Kurdish-Iraqi border (in the ISIS strongholds) and said that my family should pay $7,500 to free me. One of my uncles paid the money to free me. In April 2016, I was finally freed. I am 18 years old now.’’
“There was no help, no one showed mercy on me. I saw one of the Indian guys in the last place of captivity when I was in Mosul, where he was working as a suicide bomber and wanted to explode himself. There were many Asians as well who belonged to different countries.”
Bashar was in New Delhi to participate in the '19th Asian Security Conference - Combating Terrorism: Evolving an Asian Response', an initiative of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis. The Week caught up with her to learn from her the story of ISIS violence in the far lands of Syria where around 23 Indians have fled to join the Isis Jehad. Some of them who had tried to flee were killed.