(New York) – ISIS’s loss of Mosul after a three-year reign of terror does not signify an end to the group’s presence in Iraq and Syria, nor its ability to spread its extremist ideology that targets women, gay people, and members of other religions through its affiliates in Africa, Southeast Asia, and other parts of the world, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) said today.
On July 9, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over ISIS in Mosul. However, the terrorist group still controls Tal Afar, Hawija, and a large part of Anbar Province. In Syria, many top ISIS officials have reportedly moved from Raqqa to other towns still under ISIS control in the Euphrates River valley, taking with them the group’s recruiting, propaganda, financing, and external operations functions.
ISIS’s barbaric practices reflect an ideology that brutalizes women and girls and calls for their oppression. ISIS has executed hundreds of Muslim women and their relatives in areas under its control for refusing to marry ISIS fighters. Enslavement, forced marriages, and social isolation are all part of ISIS’s mistreatment of women, practices the group is working to export through its affiliates in North Africa, West Africa, and Southeast Asia.
ISIS-appointed courts have also brutally targeted gay people, declaring homosexuality a capital offense and regularly murdering suspected gay men and boys by throwing them off of tall buildings. Human rights observers estimated in December 2015 that ISIS had executed at least 36 suspected gay men within its territory, 10 in a single day, including a 15-year-old boy, in September of that year.
ISIS’s murder of Coptic Christians in the Sinai and in Egypt is symptomatic of the group’s long-standing campaign to murder, rape, torture, and displace Yazidis, Muslims, Christians, Mandaeans, and members of other religious groups. According to the United Nations, more than 400,000 Yazidis were displaced, captured, or killed since August 2014, while the Christian population in Iraq fell from 1.4 million in 2003 to an estimated 150,000 to 275,000 in 2016.