Interviews with Captured IS Fighters

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26 September 2014
A city in al-Jazeera district, North-East of Syria (exact location withheld)

Two IS prisoners, one of them injured, held captive by the Syrian-Kurdish People's Protection Unit (YPG) recount their experience fighting with the Islamic State group. Among other things, they provide an inside account of how training and bombing operations are carried out.

Shotlist:

Various shots of Mohamad, IS fighter
Various shots of Abd al-Kareem Mefleh (IS fighter) and the injuries on his body.

Soundbites:

Mohamad, IS fighter from the villages of al-Jazeera (Arabic):
(01:12) I've been working with them [IS] for 4 months. I was communicating with them through someone. They used to ask us to plant explosives in certain places. We made two explosions in the village of Hamkar and two explosions on the road to al-Jazaa in order to block the road and the confine the battles to the area of al-Jazaa. They [IS] paid us 100,000 SYP [625 USD] for each explosion.

We used to go to Tel Khamees, to al-Ghol, and they took us to Raqqa once. They taught us how to plant explosives and when to blow them up so we can cause as many injuries and as much damage as possible. Afghan experts used to sit me down, bring a bomb, and teach me how to connect it to the right machines. [They taught me] How to plant it [bomb] and burry it. [They taught me] how far away I should go [from the bomb] before I set it off and how long it takes to explode after I click the button. I was trained in al-Shaddade. They used to bring all of their fighters and people who work with them to al-Shaddade and train them there. Once you have completed the learning process, you are allowed to deal with bombs and you will have to set up an explosion in any area they request. The communication was via cell phones. They call you and tell you to come to a specific village in the night and to go meet a specific person that will help you cross over. He [the person] provided me with a motorcycle, and told me to meet him in a specific place so he can give me bomb. He gave me the bomb and an amount of money and told me, “if you kill people from the PKK”-that is the area they were targeting back then-“if you kill people from the PKK, then you will get more money. If you do not kill people from the PKK then you will get nothing.”

They used to allow whoever wants to watch [executions] to gather in the square. It would be known that for example, tomorrow there will be an execution. They used to gather people to watch people get decapitated, so people would fear them". (04:03)

Abd al-Kareem Mefleh, IS fighter from the villages of al-Jazeera (Arabic):
(04:04) I was a fighter in over 4 brigades: al-Waha, al-Jazeera, al-Tawheed and al-Jihad movement of Ahrar al-Sham, and ISIS. I participated in so many of their battles and was injured here in my arm once and in my stomach. I was badly injured in one of the PPK battles and they [the PKK] took me to their hospitals and treated me and operated on me. I stayed in the hospital of the PPK for a long time getting treatments, they were kind to me and I want to thank them for their treatment.

They convinced us to fight with them to protect the area, and they convinced us that the PPK is going to take over the area and destroy all the Arabs. They convinced everyone of that idea. What we saw in reality was completely different, they treated us really well, even the PPK checkpoints here in the area, they treat us in a very good way.

After I was with al-Nusra, I switched to Ahrar al-Sham. They took me to a training camp. The camp was in Ras al-Ain. They told us we need to train in order to fight with them [PKK]. Saudi Arabia and Turkey were supporting us [Ahrar al Sham] the most, they used to send food baskets for us, our salaries and all our needs.

ISIS comes to an area, and those who do not follow their rules, will be either deported or mostly killed. According to the area, if the inhabitants of the area obey them, they will treat them well. If they do not obey them, they will deport them. The houses of the deported people are either burnt down or taken as a residence for IS members.
I saw on al-Arabiya that al-Nusra brigade punished an Alawite, accusing him of firing a canon against them from Kawkab to Tel Khamis. They punished him by cutting off his head.

They [IS] used to get people from Libya, Algeria, Morocco, and deport the men, and only let the women stay, and then marry them to the fighters. (08:04)