Abu Omar says he didn’t give a damn about the apocalypse, or learning the ways of “true” Islam, or joining a world-historical movement. It was 2013 and he just wanted guns and money.
Strange as it may sound to Western ears, particularly those trained to a 24-hour news cycle three years later, this deserter from the so-called Islamic State did not expect the lunatic brutality these soi-disant soldiers of God meted out indiscriminately to women and children.
Certainly he did not expect their runaway paranoia about infiltration by foreign or double agents, an obsession that gave rise to a more discriminating form of brutality meted out to ISIS’s own rank-and-file.
Abu Omar, whose real name is known to The Daily Beast but has been changed at his request for his family’s safety, says that following the arrest and interrogation of his childhood friend, who was a rebel within the Free Syrian Army, he was accused of spying for the U.S.-led coalition.
Abu Omar swears the charges are false—neither he nor his best friend, a man he described as a “brother in blood,” were ever spies. But they were both arrested and tortured repeatedly, and his friend, as a member of a rival faction, got the worst of ISIS’s medieval treatment.
Abu Omar spent 3½ months in ISIS’s largest and most notorious prison complex, a converted municipal sports stadium in the self-declared caliphate’s de facto capital of Raqqa, before being released, due to lack of evidence, with an “apology.” His brother in blood wasn’t so lucky…
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