Hundreds of people who have defected from Daesh say the image it projects on social media does not match reality. The experiences of three men who fled Daesh — Abu Ibrahim, Ghaith and Hamza (not their real names) — highlight the terrorist group’s lies and barbarism.
Daesh propaganda lured Abu Ibrahim, a convert to Islam, away from his family in Australia to join the terrorists in Syria. Once there, he saw firsthand the terrorist group’s false narrative.
“A lot of people, when they come, they have a lot of enthusiasm about what they’ve seen online or what they’ve seen on YouTube,” Abu Ibrahim told CBS News. “They see it as something a lot grander than what the reality is. It’s not all military parades or it’s not all victories.”
Abu Ibrahim disagreed with Daesh’s killing of aid workers and journalists, and he said the terrorist group executed people for “spying.” He became increasingly disillusioned with the terrorists and needed to leave.
“My main reason for leaving was that I felt that I wasn’t doing what I had initially come for and that’s to help, in a humanitarian sense, the people of Syria,” he said.
After joining Daesh in Syria, Ghaith returned home to Tunisia disgusted by its tactics.
“It’s not a revolution or jihad,” he told the Associated Press. “It’s a slaughter.”
Ghaith recalls how Daesh abused female recruits and killed people indiscriminately. He bears a scar on his neck where Daesh fighters held a knife and threatened to kill him if he didn’t correctly recite a Quranic verse.
Like other defectors, he was coerced by Daesh propaganda into joining and fighting for them.
“It was totally different from what they said jihad would be like,” Ghaith said.
Hamza, from Iraq, joined after hearing Daesh propaganda on how to reform and improve society with Islam. But after joining, he learned that was far from the truth.
“At the beginning, I thought they were fighting for Allah, but later I discovered they are far from the principles of Islam,” Hamza said in an interview with The Independent. “I know that some fighters were taking hallucinatory drugs; others were obsessed with sex.”
Daesh’s brutal tactics and treatment of women spurred Hamza to flee the terrorist group.
“The executions, or more horribly the beheadings, as well as the raping of the non-Muslim girls … these scenes terrified me,” Hamza said. “I imagined myself being caught up in these shootings, executions, beheadings and raping, if I stayed where I was.”