Matthew Barber writes: I first began tweeting about the Islamic State’s campaign to kidnap and enslave Yazidi women when I was in Iraq this past August. Though analysts were skeptical and online jihadists who defend IS vehemently denied my claims, I was communicating with the families of the kidnapped women and with those engaged in rescue efforts. I have even spoken by phone directly with kidnapped Yazidi women in captivity. One month ago, I sounded the alarm regarding the plight of the kidnapped Yazidi women for whom time is running out, detailing how an effective rescue operation would be possible. A number of journalists had written amazing stories, directly interviewing survivors — girls that had been kidnapped and placed into the homes of IS jihadists as slaves. These stories continue to emerge, TV interviews have taken place, and the UN issued a report on the kidnapping issue.
Despite the widespread doubt, I and the team I work with have been able to collect the names of thousands of kidnapped Yazidis — mostly women and girls, but also a number of kidnapped and imprisoned men that have been forced to convert to Islam. A month ago, our estimate of kidnapped Yazidis was below 4,000 individuals, but as we continue to gather data, our number now stands at almost 7,000.
Ongoing efforts to shed light on this crisis notwithstanding, the media hasn’t lingered on the issue. Evidence in the form of firsthand accounts of survivors gathered by credible journalists and academics wasn’t enough; skepticism seemed to reign in the absence of photographic evidence — something nearly-impossible to obtain. How would one snap photos of women distributed through private IS networks and placed into the homes of individual IS jihadists? Even a photograph of a Yazidi woman in an Arab home wouldn’t indicate that she was in fact enslaved as a “concubine.”
But today this controversy can be laid to rest. IS has just released the fourth installment of Dabiq, an official publication that they began to produce in July. This issue, called “The Failed Crusade,” contains an article entitled “The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour,” which details how IS fighters kidnapped and distributed Yazidi women as slave concubines. The article also provides their rationale for reviving slavery, which they root in their interpretation of the practice of the earliest Islamic communities. The Islamic State has now officially disclosed that it engages in the sexual enslavement of women from communities determined to be of “pagan” or “polytheistic” origin. [Continue reading…]