‘Orlando Will Be Repeated,’ Former ISIS Captive Warns Congress
“No place is safe for anyone.”
That’s the chilling assessment a former ISIS captive has given U.S. lawmakers, recounting her harrowing tale under the grips of an international terrorist organization.
“Orlando will be repeated if the world doesn’t put an end [to] such terrorism. There is no sanctuary,” human rights activist Nadia Murad told the Senate Homeland Security Committee at the start of a hearing Tuesday.
The Senate committee held the hearing to gain insight into what committee chairman Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., called the “poisonous ideology” of ISIS and “how it results in the slaughter of innocents,” including inside Pulse nightclub in Orlando, where an ISIS-inspired gunman killed 49 and wounded scores more.
“[This] terrorist attack in Orlando continues the alarming trend of attacks on ‘soft targets’ here in the U.S. and abroad,” Johnson said. “ISIS’ brutality towards women, homosexuals and other groups is overt, and these communities will continue to be vulnerable until ISIS is defeated.”
Murad, part of the non-Muslim religious minority in Iraq and Syria known as Yazidi, was forced by ISIS to become a sex slave at age 19, she said.
“I was going to high school. I had dreams like every girl in the world. I wanted to become a teacher and build a family,” she told the Senate panel. “But our peaceful ways did not save us. … The Yazidis were given a choice: convert or die.”
Although Murad was lucky enough to ultimately escape, she described how more than 3,000 Yazidi people had been slaughtered by ISIS in two weeks alone, and they continue to be killed in what she called the “Holocaust genocide anew.”
Meanwhile, another witness at the hearing warned that ISIS failures on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq don’t undercut its ability to radicalize people around the world.
“The terror attack in Orlando shows that the group’s territorial losses over the past year have not diminished its appeal,” said Hassan Hassan, a resident fellow with the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington.
He said U.S. efforts to counter ISIS have treated the terrorist group “as a disease, and not a symptom of broader problems that helped the group rise in the first place, and will ensure it will survive the territorial losses.”
And he called on the United States to “acknowledge publicly that there are thousands of Syrians, including refugees in this country, [that] have helped the U.S. in its fight against the Islamic State,” including by providing information and intelligence to U.S. authorities.
“You can defeat the group in Raqqa, Mosul, Fallujah, but these defeats will remain tactical defeats unless the group is discredited by the same people it claims to represent,” he added.