Justice for Life Organization interviewed Mr. Abdullah Al Jawhari to talk about his detention in the prisons of ISIS in Deir Ezzor in 2015.
Abdullah Al Jawhari was born in Deir Ezzor city in 1994. He was arrested on November 20th 2015, and about two months later he was released.
Arresting Those Who Leave the Besieged Neighborhoods:
On January 5th 2015, ISIS laid a severe siege on the government forces held areas in Deir Ezzor where all routes were closed, and food vehicles were prevented from entering to those neighborhoods. This led to almost unavailability of food and medicine.
Current Situation in Deir Ezzor:
The siege lasted until government forces with support by the Russian forces and allied military groups were able to recapture the cities and villages located in the south of Euphrates river following the withdrawal of ISIS forces from the outskirts of the besieged neighborhoods.
Dozens of People with Unknown Destiny:
During the first year of siege, ISIS was allowing those who flee the besieged neighborhoods to pass throughout its held areas, however ISIS militants were arresting dozens of young men before they prevent civilians to leave those neighborhoods completely in 2016 following the control on Al Bghaleyya neighborhood.
The destiny of tens of those young men is still unknown yet after being arrested by ISIS militants.
Let Him Die:
Leaving Deir Ezzor:
The witness Abudllah Al Jawhari narrates his reasons behind leaving the city of Deir Ezzor:
“Following the siege that was laid by ISIS on the government held areas in Deir Ezzor, the food and water became a severe need. There was no electricity. Life became very hard in these neighborhoods. The regime was not allowing young men to leave. I had to resort to a smuggler and fled on Friday, November 20th 2015”.
Arrest by ISIS:
The witness says “After I left the besieged neighbourhoods with a group of civilians, we passed ISIS checkpoint in Ayyash town, in the western countryside of Deir Ezzor. After about 10km, another checkpoint was waiting for us. They checked us, then they took us to a prison in Al Tibni town. They isolated women from men. Then, they allowed women to leave and prevented men from doing so. Then, they brought a van to take us blindfolded.”
ISIS took the detainees to Al Tibni town. The charges against them were participating in elections, being recruited within NDF – which is a military group affiliated to the government forces – and participating in demonstrations supporting the Syrian authorities.
Al Tibni Prison:
It consists of four rooms, each one includes 25-30 detainees. When the number increases, ISIS moves some detainees to other areas.
Abdullah says “They hung me from my hands for two days. I was naked, and they were pouring water on my body in the cold weather. On the next day, they brought me to the investigation room. I was blindfolded. They asked me whether I participated in the elections in the government forces held areas, and when I denied, they kept beating me until the prayer time. I could not stand on my feet. The torture continued after the prayer and they asked me to confess that I participated in the elections and attending conferences in the government forces held areas despite the fact I did not”.
“They stroke my throat, then I could not breath or stand on my feet. My stomach started hurting me. Despite the fact that my prison fellows asked them to hospitalize me, they said let him die. I was crying of pain. After ten days they took me to a hospital nearby the prison.”.
During the investigation, ISIS militants threatened Abdullah to kill him, by putting the pistol on his head and sometimes putting knife below his neck.
“ I wished to die and get rid of this mental torture. I confessed everything they wanted me to, yet they told me that I am lying”.
Some detainees who were with Abdullah lost their mind and started saying things that could not be understood and talking to themselves due to harsh torture.
Abdullah says “They were trying to prove the charges on all detainees regardless of their conditions. There were patients of heart and physical disabilities, yet the militants were putting pressure on them”.
The torture methods that were narrated by Abdullah to JFL include leaving the detainee in a dark room, and once the light is on, the detainee sees blood on the ground along with the orange uniform that is specified for execution.
People Who Left and Never Came Back:
Following investigation and torture for 22 days in Al Tibni prison, ISIS moved Abdullah to a prison in Al Salheyya village nearby Deir Ezzor city. A Kuwaiti judge questioned him.
Abdullah talks about his detention in Al Salheyya prison “ We were realizing time based on prayer time, on daily basis the prisoners were inviting us to prayer. Following al Maghreb prayer, the prisoners were taking some detainees out and after few minutes we were hearing bullets sounds. However, the old detainees told me that it was fake, and the purpose was to frighten us.”
Abdullah tells JFL about some of the detainees “ A judge from Deir Ezzor with the surname of Heeza with his son Hani, they were in the close cell. I heard ISIS militants when they were calling them. This case was multiple with two people from Agol family from Deir Ezzor”.
After spending ten days in Al Salheyya prison, Abdullah was moved with a group of detainees to Al Shumaiteyya town in the western countryside of Deir Ezzor. They attended a closed Sharea course. Abdullah says “ I remained for 25 days. They left us in a five-rooms building as we were 150 people including militants from Jabhat Al Nusra and Ahrar Al Sham and civilians”. He adds “ The course focused on Al Jihad in an attempt to convince us to join them. One day, one of ISIS militants came to convince me to join them, he told me that they will give me money, car, and a wife and they will not send me to fights fronts”.
Abdullah says “Following the end of repentance course, ISIS released me. I headed to Al Raqqa, and I started to fear them in an incredible manner. In Al Raqqa, I was not leaving home except for emergency cases in order to avoid seeing them. I could not leave Al Raqqa until I found a smuggler”.