AL-HOL, SYRIA – The refugee camp at al-Hol is currently home to 70,000 refugees from the Syrian Civil War. Contained in close quarters in a space initially occupied by 9,000 persons, the population now includes about 11,000 widows, wives, and children of ISIS fighters.
Local and international authorities believe that ISIS is attempting to muster a comeback in remote regions of Syria and Iraq – and that al-Hol is a safe haven where ISIS women can organize as part of the fight.
Some describe the camp as a perfect incubator to enlisting ISIS recruits, especially among the children under the age of 18 who comprise 70% of the interred population.
Last month, a camp official told CNN that they had “started to notice that the new arrivals (ISIS women) were very well organized . . . They are structured.”
The same official also said, “The camp is the best place to develop the new ISIS. There is a restructuring of the ISIS indoctrination.”
A recent report from the Pentagon noted that the withdrawal of US military forces has been a contributing factor that has allowed “ISIS ideology to spread uncontested in the camp.”
Armed clashes broke out during the last weekend of September when security guards intervened to prevent members of the ISIS women from whipping another woman.
This is not the first episode of violence since the ISIS women have arrived.
Women have been beaten, strangled, and suffocated by the hard-core ISIS women. The ISIS radicals don’t hesitate to kill their own members, friends, and relatives if they fail to follow the group’s self-imposed laws.
A barber who has been in the camp since the early days of the Syrian Civil War claimed that it is difficult to cut hair in front of his tent without ISIS women throwing stones and calling him an infidel.
Another camp resident told the Guardian that “These women are monsters . . . These women will burn your tent and beat your children just because they can.” The women have burned several others alive.
ISIS–women have been caught with smuggled cell phones that they are using to coordinate attacks within the compound.
The Guardian added that almost everyone in the camp has witnessed extreme violence.
The situation is unstable at best. One observer called it a ticking time bomb. However, there is a general reluctance to attempt to police the area beyond the limited number of security guards in place. Entities with the power to intervene fear that they will own the problem if they attempt to interfere.
The al-Hol camp has become yet another problematic situation for which the world appears to have no solution. It could soon be the nucleus of another explosive outbreak of the radical Islamic State.
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- Jerusalem Post, Concentration of ISIS supporters in Syrian camp created hell-hole and threat
- Reliefweb, IRC data reveals staggering child mortality in Al Hol camp, Northeast Syria – urging repatriation of foreign children
- Voice of America, Local Officials: IS Women in Syria’s al-Hol Camp Pose Security Risk
- RUDAW, ISIS widows in deadly clash with guards at Syria’s notorious al-Hol camp
- The Guardian, Inside al-Hawl camp, the incubator for Islamic State’s resurgence