Press Kit International Forum on ISIS: Day 2


Rojava Information Center – 7 July 2019

Internal ISIS docs reveal control of women, ISIS’ undercover strategy, & more


  • ‘Three types of ISIS women’ – internal documents shed new light on ISIS’ repression of women
  • New research on ISIS’ undercover ‘emni’ branch and internal economics, from $30 fines for women showing their ankles to 
  • Austrian government agrees to send mine-clearing experts to NE Syria 

For a high-photo gallery copies of the new papers and research discussed below, please contact RIC.

Today was the second day of the International Forum on ISIS, bringing together 200 participants – approximately 30 from Europe and North America, 75 from other countries in the Middle East, and the rest from the civil society, military and administration of North East Syria – to explore challenges and solutions for bringing ISIS to justice and restoring stability to the region and globally.

Today saw the bulk of the discussions, with four panels covering ISIS’ relations to: military and security; economic; religious and cultural; and women’s issues. Tomorrow will see the most important discussions of the conference, with a new proposal for the International Tribunal for ISIS in North East Syria to be put forward by ICC lawyer Dominique Inchauspe and the conclusions of the conference.

Amy Austin Holmes of the American University in Cairo presented new research on how ISIS subjugated women, sharing internal ISIS documents detailing new punishments and restrictions on women, as well as ISIS’ semi-official “Manifesto on Women”. She typified three types of ISIS women – senior women responsible for serious crimes, women who travelled under their own will to Syria, and local women in the area when ISIS arrived – in a response to simplistic depictions of the “ISIS woman”.

She said: “Destroying women’s independence was not a second- order objective, but constituted the core of the caliphate’s raison d’etre. ISIS suddenly reversed course and called women to wage jihad. This happened in October 2017, after Raqqa was liberated by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) with support of the US-led Coalition. the decision to include women in combat not only illustrates the hypocrisy of Daesh ideology, but also how IS men instrumentalized women.”

Nicholas Heras of the Center for a New American Security shared new research on how ISIS used undercover agents carrying out targeted assassinations to speed their advance across the region, and how this so-called ‘emni’ system represents the greatest threat to stability in newly-liberated regions:

He said: “ISIS’s ‘emni’ branch was able to rip apart the social and political fabric in local communities in northern and eastern Syria, which created power vacuums that ISIS could then use to its advantage. By creating these social and political vacuums in the communities in northern and eastern Syria, ISIS was ultimately able to coopt, coerce, and conquer many of these communities without having to fight pitched battles to control them.“

Dr Leo Gabriel of the International Social Forum shared news that the Austrian government has agreed to send mine-clearing teams to North East Syria in the future. He said: “Tearing down mosques is not Islam. The International Social Forum offers its support to strengthen local communities, especially in Arab regions, and try to correct those gone wrong.”

Ahmed Youssef of Afrin University shared new research on ISIS’ internal economy, from $30 fines for women showing their ankles to a $100m trade in cement passing through their territory.

Speaking on the same panel, Mohammed Shawqi Mohammad of Cordoba University said: “ISIS emerged from neglected classes, merging with religious ideas to established a base which strengthened the terror organisation.

Berivan Khaled, co-chair of the Autonomous Administration of North East Syria (AANES), said: “This forum is especially important in this historical time, following our declaration, as the Autonomous Administration, of the liberation of the lands of North East Syria, which had been under territorial and military attack by the worst terrorist force.”

Thomas McClure, Rojava Information Centre, summarised the conference thus far:

“We have seen that ISIS is a global problem and needs global solutions, which need to be rooted in the reality in which the most extensive crimes of ISIS took place. This is why experts, policy-makers, and the people who have lived through ISIS’ reign of terror all want to bring ISIS to justice through an international tribunal in North East Syria.”

Tomorrow is the last day of the Forum. Sessions include legal analysis of ISIS and proposals and solutions moving forward.

Audio and video interviews, photos, and exclusive interviews are available upon request. Please credit to Rojava Information Centre.

Additional information