Life under Isis: Why I deserted the ‘Islamic State’ rather than take part in executions, beheadings and rape – the story of a former jihadi

Hamza is a 33-year-old from Fallujah, a city ruled by Islamic State 40 miles west of Baghdad, who became an Isis fighter last year after being attracted by its appeal to his religious feelings. Two months ago, however, he defected, after being asked to help execute people he knew – and being appalled by invitations to join in what amounted to rape of captured Yazidi women.

In an interview with The Independent, given in the safety of another country, he gives a vivid account of why he joined Isis, what it was like to be a member of the jihadist group, and why he left. He reveals extraordinary details about how the army of Isis operates, the elaborate training that its fighters receive in Iraq and Syria and the way in which taking part in executions is an initiation rite, proof of the commitment and loyalty of fighters.

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