Amir Ahmed Ali, 25, is from Damascus. He was captured by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Cizire, in Syria’s ethnically Kurdish area known as Rojava.
In an exclusive interview with Rudaw, Ali said ISIS regarded Kurds and Christians as infidels and revealed how they smuggled weapons to the group.
The interview was conducted in the office of Kurdish security agencies in Derek, in Syria’s Rojava.
How did you get your start with ISIS?
I was with the Free Syrian Army (SFA) where I stayed for over a year. Then we broke away from the SFA. We had to join the ISIS and show our allegiance to them. That is what we did and found ourselves with the ISIS.
How did you join the Islamic State? Why did you join them?
We had no other solution. Anyone who was with the SFA had to join the ISIS; both in Syria and Iraq.
What were you doing before joining the SFA?
I was a driver in Damascus.
Why did you join the SFA?
I wanted the regime to fall. This is why I joined them. I defected the Syrian army to FSA and then ISIS.
What was your position within ISIS?
I was a gunman in charge of the artillery. I took part in clashes.
Were you a religious person before entering the SFA?
Yes, I was.
Were you a fanatic?
What do you mean?
Were you a committed Muslim?
Yes, I was.
What was your aim in joining the ISIS?
The ISIS wanted to create the foundation of an Islamic State in the entire world. It is a project.
What do you mean by foundation?
They wanted to control the entire world. To annihilate the infidels, the Christians and creating an Islamic state. One Islamic state.
But doesn’t Islam preach that the faith is voluntary and not to be forced on people? Why would you force it?
That’s the belief. Those who are in the Islamic state must be Muslims.
Do you think Islam should oppress people?
How do you regard Yezidis and the Christians?
We think they have to convert to Islam. Whether they want it or not
And you agree with that?
I don’t know.
Should there be force involved in Islam?
Do you believe in their beliefs completely? And how did you regard the YPG forces?
We killed many of them. Many.
Why did you do that?
We wanted to capture all these areas. Everybody should become Muslims, Kurds or non Kurds.
You viewed them as infidels?
Yes we did.
You regarded Kurds and Christians as infidels?
We saw them as infidels. Christians are infidels.
Didn’t you know most Kurds are Muslims?
Didn’t you know it was not right to do so?
No we did not.
Salahaddin Ayubi was a Kurd who established a great Islamic state. There are great Muslim scholars who are Kurdish. Why would you judge them?
You are right.
You would have done what ever they ordered you?
The emirs issued fatwas and we executed them.
This means that you didn’t question it?
No, we didn’t. We implemented it directly.
And if you did not implement the order, what would happen to you?
We would be killed.
Were the orders extreme?
Yes, I thought so.
But do you think the ISIS brand of Islam is too harsh, beheading innocent people?
Most militants would implement the orders.
Do you think the Prophet Muhammad would agree with the killing, Especially the killing of women and children? How could you do that in his name?
Infidel captives are killed soon. Some would be sold.
How did end up joining ISIS?
I was forced to join them. I joined them here in Talhamis, and then in Iraq. Then I was in Iraq and back in Raqqa.
What was your training and how did you learn the basics of Islam?
We were instructed by the sheikhs. A sheikh would come and teach us about prayers and other religious duties. In case of war, they came and said jihad was obligatory and if we were killed we would meet female angels in paradise.
What did you want to do after Iraq and Syria?
We wanted to continue to other countries.
Country by country: Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and the Europe.
Yes, with force.
How were you captured? Have you changed since you were captured?
I have a different opinion about the YPG. I have been here for three months. I think I was wrong about the YPG. I thought they were infidels in the past. But now I think we regarded them wrongfully.
You truly think so?
This is my opinion now.
What about your friends in ISIS?
Even they regret the past atrocities like killing and beheading people.
You say so with full conviction?
Yes, I do.
Will ISIS leave you alone if released?
No, they will kill us.
How can you make amends for the past atrocities you committed?
I will ask God’s for forgiveness and pray and fast.
You thought you were fighting for paradise and female angels?
Yes, I did.
How many angels?
What did they tell you about the angels?
They are beyond any description.
Are they reserved for both gunmen and the emirs [leader]?
The emirs take part in clashes or just order you to fight?
Yes, they do.
Were there any foreign emirs?
Yes, there were. From Libya, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and even China and other countries.
What about Egypt?
Abu Abdulla the Egyptian, he was a mufti.
Was he killed?
Yes, he was.
Were there too many emirs?
Yes, they were.
What do you think about the events in Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood?
Every one visited every one else, as if they had relations with each other.
You mean they were in contact with each other?
Iraqi emirs visited Syria and the other way around as if they wanted to facilitate things for each other.
Did you have a salary?
No, there are no salaries in the Islamic State.
Everyone is a volunteer.
What about war gains and looting?
You can keep war trophies like guns and pistols, but cars are for the [Islamic] State and is their property.
How was your role? How were you regarded?
We were like all other mujahids.
Do you have female fighters? What do they do?
No, I have not seen female fighters.
You have not seen any females?
No, I have not.
Have you heard about the jihad of nikah? Is it backed by Islam?
Yes, I have. The mujahidin are benefitted by it.
If they asked you to do a jihad of nikah, would you do it?
Like any other jihadi.
When you fought the YPG, did you think you would not end up in paradise if you were killed by a female fighter?
No we thought we would end up in paradise when we were killed.
Even if you were killed at the hands of a woman?
There are no differences between men and women.
What was the difference between before and after entering ISIS?
I had no problems before, no pressure. Then things changed when I joined them.
What do your relatives say?
They were all against it, my parents, my wife, everyone.
Why did you join them then?
They brainwashed me.
What rank did you have with the Syrian arm before?
I could have become an office if I had completed [the training], but I did not.
Where did you get your weapons?
From Iraq, Libya, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. We smuggle it in.
Libya is far away, how is it possible?
It’s possible through smuggling.
What about Turkey?
Turkey is close. Through Raqqa. We receive weapons from Babolhawa gate.