A Kurdish Yazidi family fled following ISIS attack on the northern Iraqi town of Shingal in August 2014. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—The mayor of the predominately Yezidi town of Shingal says dozens of the Yezidi girls who were kidnapped by Islamic State (ISIS) militants in August 2014, have been relocated to other countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and Chechnya, as war booty.
Mihemma Xelil told Rudaw their intelligence was based on several interviews conducted with rescued Yezidi women who had been released after ransoms had been paid to ISIS through mediators.
“At this moment we do not know how these girls were moved outside of Iraq or Syria but we believe they could have smuggled them out of the countries overland,” Xelil said adding that security personnel were yet to investigate the cases.
Many of the women were initially moved to nearby cities of Mosul and Tal Afar but they were soon taken to the groups more secure territories in Syria the mayor said.
“Many of the abducted women still have access to their cellphones and speak to their families and ask for ransoms to be paid for their release,” Xelil added.
According to a government office, which was set up to help locate and bring back the abducted Yezidis, of the 6255 people who were kidnapped 3878 are still in ISIS captivity with nearly 1800 of them being women and children.
“We have paid the ransom for many of the rescued victims, especially in cases where we knew for sure that they would be released for ransom,” said Hussein Koro who manages the office on behalf of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
“But in many cases, when we could not verify a source and therefore decided not to pay the ransom, the relatives of the victim paid it themselves and many times it turned out to be false sources who were after the ransom money,” Koro told Rudaw.
The size of the ransom varies and depends on whether the victim is male or female and where they are held captive Koro added.
Rudaw spoke with Xudeda Misto, a 75-year-old Yezidi from Shingal whose entire family including his wife, three daughters and his son were abducted by the militants in August 2014 and has not seen them since.
“They have asked for $15,000 for my eldest daughter who is now in Syria, but I have only $5000 and could not make the rest.” Misto said. He had obtained information about where his daughter was held through a Muslim friend in Shingal.