Yazidi ‘ex-sex slave’ trapped both in Iraq and in German exile

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Ashwaq Hajji
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Yazidi woman Ashwaq Haji, allegedly used by the Daesh as a sex slave, visits the Lalish temple in tribute to the Daesh’ victims from her village of Kocho near Sinjar, in Lalish, northern Iraq, on August 15, 2018. (AFP)
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Yazidi woman Ashwaq Haji, allegedly used by the Daesh as a sex slave, visits the Lalish temple in tribute to the Daesh’ victims from her village of Kocho near Sinjar, in Lalish, northern Iraq, on August 15, 2018. (AFP)
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Yazidi woman Ashwaq Haji, allegedly used by the Daesh as a sex slave, visits the Lalish temple in tribute to the Daesh’ victims from her village of Kocho near Sinjar, in Lalish, northern Iraq, on August 15, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 18 August 2018

Yazidi ‘ex-sex slave’ trapped both in Iraq and in German exile

  • Life in Iraq is not easy for Ashwaq or for the 3,315 other Yazidis who escaped from the Daesh
  • The Yazidis are a Kurdish-speaking religious minority that was brutally persecuted by the terrorists who despise them as heretics

LALISH: A young Yazidi woman who fled to Germany but returned home to northern Iraq says she cannot escape her Daesh captor who held her as a sex slave for three months.
Ashwaq Hajji, 19, says she ran into the man in a German supermarket in February. Traumatized by the encounter, she returned to Iraq the following month. Like many other Yazidis, she was kidnapped by Daesh when the extremists seized swaths of Iraq in the summer of 2014.
In their ancestral region of Sinjar in northwestern Iraq, thousands of Yazidi women were killed or sold off as sex slaves.
The teenager was held from Aug. 3 until Oct. 22 of 2014, when she managed to escape from the home of an Iraqi extremist using the name Abu Humam who had bought her for $100, she told AFP in the Yazidi shrine of Lalish, north of second city Mosul.
The Yazidis are a Kurdish-speaking religious minority that was brutally persecuted by the terrorists who despise them as heretics.
Under a German government program for Iraqi refugees, Ashwaq, her mother and a younger brother were resettled in 2015 in Schwaebisch Gmuend, a town near Stuttgart.
Her refuge in Germany, where she took language lessons, was cut short on Feb. 21 when a man called out her name in a supermarket and started talking to her in German.
“He told me he was Abu Humam. I told him I didn’t know him, and then he started talking to me in Arabic,” she said.
“He told me: ‘Don’t lie, I know very well that you’re Ashwaq’,” she said, adding that he gave her home address and other details of her life in Germany.
After that experience, she immediately phoned the local police, who told her to contact a specialized department.

The judicial police in the Baden-Wuerttemberg region of southwestern Germany said an inquiry was opened on March 13 but that Ashwaq was not present to answer questions.
A spokesman for the German federal prosecutor’s office said that so far the man’s identity could not be confirmed “with certainty.”
Germany says it has opened several investigations over terrorism charges or crimes against humanity involving asylum seekers linked to extremist groups in Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan.
Ashwaq said she had viewed surveillance videos filmed in the supermarket together with German police and was ready to keep them informed of her whereabouts.
But she said that she was not willing to return to Germany for fear of seeing her captor again.
She is back in northern Iraq with her mother and brother, but living in fear because she says Abu Humam has family in Baghdad.
She wears black in a sign of mourning for five brothers and a sister still missing since their own capture by Daesh.
At a camp for the displaced in nearby Iraqi Kurdistan where he has been resettled, her father, Hajji Hamid, 53, admits returning was not an easy decision, even though the government proclaimed victory over IS at the end of last year.
“When her mother told me that she’d seen that jihadist... I told them to come back because Germany was obviously no longer a safe place for them,” he said.
Life in Iraq is also not easy for Ashwaq or for the 3,315 other Yazidis who escaped from the jihadists. A similar number are still being held or have gone missing, according to official figures.
“All the survivors have volcanos inside them, ready to explode,” warned Sara Samouqi, a psychologist who works with several Yazidis.
“Ashwaq and her family are going through terrible times.”


Yemen court begins trial of Houthi leaders

Updated 54 min 1 sec ago

Yemen court begins trial of Houthi leaders

  • Local security and military officers believe that Houthi sleeper cells were involved in directing drone

AL-MUKALLA: A Yemeni military court in the government-controlled city of Marib held the initial session of the trial of Iran-backed Houthi leaders on Tuesday, accused of masterminding the coup against the internationally recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in 2015 and the subsequent military campaign.

The defendants faced charges of forming a terrorist armed group called Ansar Allah, colluding with the Lebanese group Hezbollah and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), revolting against the republican system, putting Masur Hadi under house arrest and trying to kill him.

Along with the movement’s leader, Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, among the 175 accused figures were Mohammed Al-Houthi, a member of the country’s Supreme Political Council, Abdullah Yahiya Al-Hakim, a senior military commander, the Houthi ambassador to Iran, Ibrahim Mohammed Al-Daylami, and dozens of ministers, intelligence, military and political officials.

According to the official Saba news agency, the prosecution demanded the maximum available punishments for the defendants, including the death penalty.

By the end of the session, the court decided to publish the names of the accused figures in local newspapers and demanded that they appear the same court on Sept. 25, or face prosecution in absentia.

With the help of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Houthi militias seized control of the capital Sana’a in September 2014, and placed Mansur Hadi under house arrest, dismissing his government and replacing it with their allied Revolutionary Committees. The Houthis killed Saleh in late 2017 after leading a brief military uprising in Sana’a.

Dismantled Houthi cell

Also in Marib, Yemen’s defense and interior ministries said on Tuesday that the Houthi cell that was dismantled in Marib’s Wadi Abeda area late last month was responsible for masterminding many attacks against government, military and security targets in Marib.

In a joint statement, the two ministries said the cell, led by Mohsen Saleh Subayan, planned and carried out attacks against local security forces and Saudi-led coalition troops in Marib, planted landmines and improvised explosive devices, assassinated military and security officers and smuggled weapons. The statement noted that Subayan, along with several of his associates, were killed when they resisted security forces that came to capture them, and that drones, weapons and munitions were found in the area. 

Local security and military officers believe that Houthi sleeper cells were involved in directing drone and missile strikes that targeted military camps in Marib since late 2015. The deadliest Houthi attack was in January 2020, when a drone and missiles fired by the Houthis landed at a camp, killing more than 110 soldiers, triggering heavy clashes between government forces and the Houthis, which disrupted diplomatic efforts to reach a peace deal led by the UN Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths.

Official media reported on Tuesday that Prime Minister Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed called the governor of Marib, Sultan Al-Arada, to congratulate him on dismantling the cell and foiling plots to undermine security and stability. Marib has hosted thousands of Yemeni army troops and coalition forces since the beginning of the Saudi-led military operation in Yemen in March 2015.