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The Al-Khanssaa Brigade: The Most Brutal Women Police in History

Ravi loves writing within the realm of relationships, history, and the bizarre—where boundaries are blurred and possibilities are immense.

The Al-Khanssaa Brigade was an all-women police or religious enforcement unit of the Islamic Caliphate(ISIL) that tortured women who did not follow their ideology.

The Al-Khanssaa Brigade was an all-women police or religious enforcement unit of the Islamic Caliphate(ISIL) that tortured women who did not follow their ideology.

The Most Brutal Caliphate in History

On a midwinter night in January 2019, the most wanted man on Earth witnessed the destruction of the most brutal Caliphate in history.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was down to a few dozen loyalists and was on the run as the caliphate of ISIS he had proclaimed four and a half years earlier lay in ruins, with bombs decimating his strongholds right, left, and center.

ISIS once controlled approximately 100,000 square kilometers of territory across Iraq and Syria at its zenith, along with millions of people being controlled by a brutally oppressive and cruel regime.

And when it finally fell, the world was shocked as its gruesome secrets of kidnapping, rape, and torture of hapless women came out. The world had never seen such a systematic rape of women at such a scale as the atrocities of the perpetrators crossed all limits of humanity.

But amidst the oppression of women came another shocking discovery: the Al-Khanssaa Brigade. This was an all-women police force created by ISIS to enforce their maniacal ideology and torture other women who don’t follow it. It was a woman subjugating another woman, using barbaric instruments of torture. As a survivor who experienced the torture of the Al-Khanssaa Brigade says:

“I was much more afraid of women. The women would beat you for the smallest thing—how you looked or wore your headscarf. They used whips and metal sticks."

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

The Women Were Carefully Selected

The brigade was named after 7th-century female Arab poet Al-Khansa, a contemporary of the Prophet Mohammed.

The recruitment was based on money and strength. The ISIS selected the strongest and cruelest women to be part of this group. After selection, they were paid a handsome salary in U.S. dollars, along with food, clothing, shelter, and firearms.

They were also taught to recite the Quran as part of the training. The training in firearms and religion would go for three months, after which an exam needed to be cleared to be a certified ISIS enforcement officer.

Once certified, they would be given guns and told to patrol the cities looking for any culprits. If a woman walked down the street unaccompanied, she was arrested. She had to be accompanied by her brother or husband.

If the woman rode a taxi alone, she would be taken to the police station and flogged. Even the clothes were important. The brigade was specially instructed to look for those women whose clothes did not conform to ISIS’s laws.

The brigade was named after 7th-century female Arab poet Al-Khansa, a contemporary of the Prophet Mohammed.

The brigade was named after 7th-century female Arab poet Al-Khansa, a contemporary of the Prophet Mohammed.

They Were Sadistic Torturers

Even little girls had to wear sharia-compliant clothing, and girls as young as 10 years would be slapped, tortured, or flogged by the brigade. There was a daily target assigned to every officer.

Every officer must ‘catch’ at least 30-40 ‘offenders’ to prove her faith. Any beauty treatment, from nail polish to lipstick, was considered blasphemy. There were cruel episodes where pliers were used to remove a woman's nail-polished nails.

The most popular form of torture was flogging, and the ‘selling’ of the woman comes after flogging. If a ‘senior’ member of ISIS shows ‘interest’ in any woman, the brigade would gift her to him to enjoy until he is bored of her and sends her back. The brigade was also in charge of the sex brothels that supplied captured Yazidi and Iraqi women to ISIS officials as sex slaves.

And there was a special class of officers called ‘biters’ who would punish for ‘minor’ offenses by ‘biting hard on the chest.’ Sometimes the biting would go on for hours until the woman would die.

And the ‘officers’ themselves were under surveillance from other officers to prevent laxity. One woman was assigned to spy on other officers and report to the high command. If any ‘officer’ does not report an offense or ‘fails’ to do her duty, she would be caught, tortured, and sold as a sex slave. It was plain survival; either you do the dirty job or be killed mercilessly.

A woman needs to be obedient, and there was no question of going against the dictates of the Al-Khanssaa brigade manifesto:

“Woman was created to populate the Earth just as the man was. But, as God wanted it to be, she was made from Adam and for Adam. Beyond this, her creator ruled that there was no greater responsibility for her than being a wife to her husband.”

It was a prison for all, whether a woman was a civilian, a Yazidi, or an officer. Everybody was oppressed beyond compare.

The brigade was also in charge of the sex brothels that supplied captured Yazidi and Iraqi women to ISIS officials as sex slaves.

The brigade was also in charge of the sex brothels that supplied captured Yazidi and Iraqi women to ISIS officials as sex slaves.

Life After ISIS

More than two years have passed since the ISIS rule. The scars of liberation are gradually getting healed, with the broken-down cities, roads, and buildings getting back into shape.

Yes, the black dresses or scarves are not there anymore, and women now breathe more easily. The physical scars will go away one day, but the mental scars of the oppression might take an even longer time.

ISIS treated all women badly, but what will happen to those women who supported them blatantly and enforced their maniacal ideology?

Can they live the rest of their lives with the stigma of being instrumental in unleashing terror on other women, or would they go underground and lead different lives away from their infamous past? There are no easy answers to these questions.

The terror machine has been dismantled, but the questions on terror still lie unanswered.

Sources

© 2022 Ravi Rajan