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'They'll come to kill us': Canadian trapped in Syria pleads to UN for help

Syria

Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters deploy near the town of Ras al-Ayn, Syria, Friday, Oct. 19, 2019. (AP Photo)

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Paul Workman, Foreign Correspondent

Paul Workman, London Bureau Chief, CTV National News

@paulctv


Published Friday, October 18, 2019 6:26PM EDT

LONDON -- “Dear United Nations...”

The letter was written by hand on paper that was torn from a notebook. It’s dated October 16, 2019, from a detention camp in Northern Syria. The writer is a Canadian, speaking for 10 women, all once married to ISIS fighters. The sky overhead is now crowded with fighter jets and drones.

“I wish this was a more professional-looking letter,” she writes, “properly typewritten on crisp paper.” She describes the location: “Inside a tent, from the extremely unstable and dangerous region of the current (Turkish) ‘peace corridor.’”

Bombings can be heard nearby. The shops in the camp are nearly empty, presumably because it’s too dangerous for the merchants to resupply their shelves. There are rumors the Kurdish forces guarding the camp are preparing to leave.

“Now,” she continues, “there is a very real threat of ISIS coming to ‘rescue’ us. Please don’t let those deadly men anywhere near me, or our group.”

That’s one of the threats from outside. That ISIS fighters in hiding will return and either release them, or kill them. They have been declared kafirs, or traitors to Islam.

The threat from within is perhaps more ominous and present -- from radical women in the camp who continue to support ISIS and have become enforcers.

“Please take this threat seriously, because there are women here who are very dangerous…and have let it be known they are waiting for the Kurds to leave the camp and then they’ll come to kill us.”

Her “group” includes women from Canada, the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Britain and Indonesia.

“There’s ten of us,” she wrote, “and our stories are all different. What is our common denominator is our rejection of ISIS and its ideology.”

The women no longer hide behind the black shroud of niqabs; that in itself is a statement. It sets them apart and makes them targets. If there’s a single sentiment that stands out in the four pages, it’s regret.

“I have seen many men, women and children die during the four years I’ve struggled in Syria. My heart hurts, and I have awful images that flash through my mind…”

“Coming to Syria was a mistake.”

This is a letter addressed to the United Nations but mostly to their own countries, from women who believe they have information to offer. It appears their governments have never bothered to listen.

“Our countries know us well, and our desire to co-operate is understood.”

They fear the Turks are coming, they fear the Syrian forces of Bashar al-Assad are coming. They fear the return of the fighters of ISIS most.

“We survived ISIS,” she wrote. “We are the lucky ones, we got out. But can we survive the camps?”

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Letter from Syria - page 1

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Letter from Syria - page 2

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Letter from Syria - page 3

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Letter from Syria - page 4

 
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I'm sure the regret is huge but I wonder how much regret they'd be feeling if ISIS didn't collapse? 

Interesting quote from the letter: 

"What is our common denominator is our rejection of ISIS and it's theology and our desire to be in a world that allows each person to choose how and what they believe and desire to live."

You had that.  You chose to throw it away and join a radical group who wanted to take that exact thing away from everyone they could.

Yes, most people in the western world believe that others should be able to live free from religious oppression and for these women (and others) to go join with ISIS to fight against those who believe it makes her statement especially ironic now that she's sitting in a refugee camp in fear saying "coming to Syria was a mistake."  Yes it was, and I'd bet your family and friends told you that before you left Canada too. 

Personally, although, in general,  I'm sympathetic to the regret you must feel how can I know that you won't flip to radicalism again?  How can we know that, once back in the safety of a western country, you won't continue to fight for radical beliefs?  You have committed crimes and fought in a war against your home country - not exactly the person most likely to be trustworthy.

Sorry, if you bargain and payoff hostage-takers - you get more hostage taking.  If you repatriate terrorists - you get more terrorists. 

Edited by seeker
clarity
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