“No place is safe for anyone.”
That’s the chilling assessment a former ISIS captive has given U.S. lawmakers, recounting her harrowing tale of living in the grip of an international terrorist organization.
“Orlando will be repeated if the world doesn't put an end [to] such terrorism. There is no sanctuary,” human rights activist Nadia Murad told the Senate Homeland Security Committee at the start of a hearing Tuesday.
The committee held the hearing to gain insight into what committee Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., called the “poisonous ideology” of ISIS and “how it results in the slaughter of innocents,” such as at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, where an ISIS-inspired gunman killed 49 people and wounded scores more.
“[This] terrorist attack in Orlando continues the alarming trend of attacks on soft targets here in the U.S. and abroad,” Johnson said. “ISIS’ brutality towards women, homosexuals and other groups is overt, and these communities will continue to be vulnerable until ISIS is defeated.”
“I was going to high school. I had dreams like every girl in the world. I wanted to become a teacher and build a family,” she told the Senate panel. “But our peaceful ways did not save us … The Yazidis were given a choice: convert or die.”
Although Murad was lucky enough to escape, she said that more than 3,000 Yazidis were slaughtered by ISIS in two weeks and that Yazidis in areas under ISIS control continue to be killed in what she called the “Holocaust genocide anew.”
Another witness at the hearing warned that ISIS’ failures on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq don’t undercut its ability to radicalize people around the world.
“The terror attack in Orlando shows that the group’s territorial losses over the past year have not diminished its appeal,” said Hassan Hassan, a resident fellow with the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington.
He said U.S. efforts to counter ISIS have treated the terrorist group “as a disease and not a symptom of broader problems that helped the group rise in the first place and will ensure it will survive the territorial losses.”
Hassan called on the United States to “acknowledge publicly that there are thousands of Syrians, including refugees in this country, [who] have helped the U.S. in its fight against the Islamic State” by, for example, providing information and intelligence to U.S. authorities.
“You can defeat the group in Raqqa, Mosul, Fallujah, but these defeats will remain tactical defeats unless the group is discredited by the same people it claims to represent,” he added.