'Man beheaded in front of me'

'Man beheaded in front of me'
The ISIS defector, known only as Khadija, told CNN the story of how she joined ISIS and why she left.

She was a teacher, but ended up joining the Middle East terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

After witnessing horrific acts like crucifixions and beheadings, she decided to flee the group and is now in Turkey.

Identifying herself only as Khadija, the 25-year-old told US TV network CNN how she had joined protests against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad when Syria's civil war began in 2011.

"Everything around us was chaos," she said, adding that she wanted to run away from it all. "My problem was I ran away to something uglier." She was convinced to join ISIS by a Turkish man she had met online.

Leaving behind her job as a school teacher, she joined the group's female brigade.

It was tasked with patrolling the city of Raqqa in Syria and making sure that women followed ISIS rules.

Women who broke the rules were lashed by the brigade's commander, a woman named Umm Hamza, whom Khadija described as "huge" and "not a normal female".

She was also trained to dismantle and fire weapons and was paid US$200 (S$255) a month.

But she began questioning why she had joined such a violent group after seeing a photo of a crucified 16-year-old boy.

WORST THING

"The worst thing I saw was a man getting his head hacked off in front of me," CNN quoted her as saying.

She added that ISIS was "very brutal with women, even the ones they marry".

Khadija decided to leave when they tried to pressure her into an arranged marriage.

She was smuggled across the border to Turkey days before a US-led coalition began anti-ISIS air strikes on Syria.

She said she spoke to CNN because she wanted the world to know the truth about ISIS.

"I don't want anyone else to be duped by them."


This article was first published on Oct 9, 2014.
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