Ashwaq Haji Hamid had started a new life at Schwäbisch Gmünd, a town in Baden-Württemberg in Germany. It was a dream life after spending months in ISIS captivity. Germany was a free world—far, far away from the brutal ISIS regime. Or so she thought, until the day the ISIS militant, Abu Humam, who had bought her for $100, encountered her as a fellow refugee with equal rights. Suddenly the free world of Germany turned as menacing as an ISIS stronghold. And Hamid decided to go back home.
Hameed’s heartbreaking story points out the dangers of indiscriminate influx of refugees into Europe.
Hamid had arrived in Germany with her family in 2015 from Kurdistan region of Iraq through a program aimed at assisting Yazidi women who had been subjected to violence by ISIS.
“I ran away from Iraq so I would not see that ugly face and forget anything that reminds me of it, but I was shocked to see him in Germany,” Hamid told InfoMigrants, a news site about migration run by Deutsche Welle, France Medias Monde and Italy’s ANSA agency.
“The first time was in 2016,” she told Deutsche Welle. “He was chasing me. He was the same person, but the second time (in February this year) , he came close to me and told me he knew everything about me.”
Hamid reported the second incident to the refugee center and local police but she was only offered a number to call in emergencies. Hamid decided to go back to her home country. “If I had not seen him, I would have stayed in Germany. I wanted to complete my studies and get a degree that would give me a decent life,” she told Deutsche Welle.
Police said the information Hamid provided was not accurate enough and that they were unable to match the name she gave them with any registered person, Deutsche Welle reported. When federal agencies started investigating the incident in June, Hamid was in Iraq with her family. The police said probe could not progress due to Hamid’s unavailability.
Barham Ali, a journalist with BasNews, an independent and multilingual news agency based in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, interviewed Hamid at length after she returned home and narrated a story marked by daring and disappointment.
Hamid was just 15 years old when ISIS kidnapped her. She told Ali that they first drove her and other family members to Shaddadiya subdistrict in Syria. She said they were put in a three-store building under watchful eyes of the ISIS militants. “The men were being kept in the first floor, the women and children in the second, and the third floor was apparently Daesh’s butchery,” she said. “Right from the moment we arrived there, they took our belongings away. The took all our jewelry, money, cell phones, and personal documents. We were only given dirty water and stinky food.” The female captives were then taken to a hotel in Mosul
“One day, a Daesh militant called Abu Mohammed who came to use and took 18 girls, including me. We were moved to a large room with many men. One of them took his wallet out and paid some money to Abu Mohammed. We realised that he had just bought four of my sisters and one cousin. We were crying our hearts out, but for no vein. Later we learned that the same process was ongoing in the other rooms as well, and it was only us who had no right to make any decision,” Hamid said.
Hamid said every day some girls were being taken away after the militants could find them buyers. Soon there was only Ashwaq and four other girls remaining in a school which the insurgents were using as a prison. Four men, who served as prison guards, bought the girls and moved them to their homes in Ramboose village. Hamid was taken by Abu Humam and was forced to convert to Islam, pray everyday five times and memorise Quran in Arabic. “I did all that because he promised not to hurt me; but he abused me for more than 10 months every single day,” she told Ali during the interview.
Guided by her brother, with whom Hamid got in touch on Humam’s mobile phone when he was away, she and several other girls staged a daring escape by spiking the food of their captors with sleeping pills. After she reunited with her family, Hamid, her mother and two of her brothers moved to Germany in June 2015 as part of a humanitarian program. Hamid learnt German language and started school. The program also provided her with medical care to heal from her psychological traumas from ISIS captivity.
“A day in 2016, I was going back home from school when I felt a man was following me. I did not look at his face carefully, but I was scared. He followed me until I entered the refugee camp. I immediately told my mother, but she ensured me that everything will be fine. She said: this is Germany and no one could ever hurt you,” Hamid told Ali.
In February 2018, she was stopped by a man on her way back home. “Someone stopped me, on 21st February this year. I froze when I looked at his face carefully. It was Abu Humam, with the same scaring beard and ugly face. I was speechless when he started speaking in German, asking ‘You’re Ashwaq, aren’t you?” she said.
Hamid replied in the negative but Humam said, “Yes, you are Ashwaq and you know me very well. I am Abu Humam and you were with me for a while in Mosul. And I know where you live, with whom you live, and what you are doing.”
Hamid said she ran away and entered a nearby market, watching her abuser until she was certain he had left. When she reported to the camp manager the next day, the police was informed. She said the police identified the man from the market’s CCTV footage.
“The police told me that he is also a refugee, just like me, and that they could not do anything about it. They just gave me a phone number that I could contact in case Abu Humam ever stopped me. After this response, I decided to return to Kurdistan and never go back to Germany,” she said.
Journalist Ali of BasNews has some questions for German authorities. “I am a journalist who is very well aware of the military and humanitarian aid the German government has so far offered the Kurdistan Region and its people,” he writes at the end of his article on Hamid.
“Germany has proven its friendly ties with the Kurdistan Region during the past four years of the war against IS, and the Kurds are all grateful for that. I am also a keen fan of German football team, but I cannot leave the following questions without finding them an answer: are the laws related to human rights in Germany beyond logic that they restrict you from persecuting a barbaric terrorist of the Islamic State? Aren’t you worried about the Abu Humams who have disguised themselves as refugees to pose a serious threat to your country once they find the chance? What the Yezidi girls should do when the IS terrorists target them, no matter if they are in Mosul or in Germany? I wish, at least, the German Consulate in Erbil could follow this story up and find an answer to those questions.”