July 15, 2017 by
Updated. Thu-22-Jan 2015 Two Australian jihadists have been accused of enslaving women from the Yazidi religious minority in northern Iraq. The ABC has interviewed four of the women who identified Khaled Sharrouf as their captor. Two ofthem also identified Sharrouf's friend and fellow extremist¨ Mohamed Elomar. Matt Brown Source: PM | Duration: 4min 53sec Topics∫†rights, unrestconflictandwar, humantrafficking, iraq, kurdistan Hide transcript BRENDAN TREMBATH: Two Australian jihadists have been accused of enslaving women from the Yazidi religious minority in northern Iraq. The ABC has interviewed four of the women who identified Khaled Sharrouf as their captor. Two of them also identified Sharrouf's friend and fellow extremist, Mohamed Elomar. Both have been posting messages on social media, chronicling appalling behaviour while they fight for the Islamic State militia. The women say the Australians held them captive after they were kidnapped in Iraq and taken deep into Syrian territory last year. Middle East correspondent Matt Brown spoke to them in northern Iraq and filed this report. MATT BROWN: As the rain beat down on her thin refugee tent, Ghazala peered intently at my laptop screen as I scrolled through a series of mug shots. They were pictures of Australian fighters for the extremist militia, the Islamic State. In the freezing cold, Ghazala was looking for the man she knew as Abu Zarqawi, a man who'd kept her and six other Yazidi women captive in Syria for two months. The moment she saw notorious Australian jihadist Khaled Sharrouf, her finger shot out to point at his face. (Ghazala speaking) "We were so afraid they would force us to marry them," she says. "And when they were going to battle, they'd take knives and other tools to cut off the heads of those they fight." Sharrouf is notorious for his online posts holding severed heads and the like. But this is the first direct testimony that he is in Islamic State's de facto capital, the Syrian city of Raqqa, which is a crime under Australian law. He caused outrage last year when he posted a picture of his son posing with a severed head. And Ghazala says all the cruelty is wearing off on Sharrouf's five children. (Ghazala speaking) 00:00 00:00 "His children were treating us badly," she says. "They had knives and cell phones, saying that they will take videos while cutting off our heads because we follow a different religion." Three other Yazidi women identified Sharrouf from his mug shot. During their time in captivity, they'd learned his age, the fact that he'd served time in prison, and suffered a mental illness. They've escaped to the refugee camps and towns in northern Iraq, wedged along the mountains between Syria and Turkey. But they remain terrified of the Australians and asked us to change their names. It's impossible to independently investigate the facts and this is simply their account of what happened. When the Islamic State swept across northern Iraq last year they targeted the Yazidis because they believe they are infidels who must convert or die. The women we interviewed were captured along with thousands of others. Many of their men were killed or taken hostage. Then the women were taken to Raqqa and traded as slaves. Layla says Sharrouf demanded she and her friends convert to Islam. (Layla speaking) "He tried to ban us from crying and showing our sadness," she says. "He threatened to sell us if we did. He said, 'Why are you sad? Forget about your home and your family. This is your home and we are your family now. Forget about your gods for good because we have killed them all!'" Two of the women also identified a second Australian, well known extremist Mohamed Elomar. He used the pseudonym Abu Hafs, but the women learned his real first and second name and the fact that his wife had been arrested before she could leave Australia to join him. They say he lived on the first floor of the two story building Sharrouf and his family occupied. The women accuse Elomar of taking one of their friends away, and either raping her or threatening to rape her. (Layla speaking) Layla says, "One of my friends was with us all the day, but he was taking her by force at night". Another woman, Nazdar, says of her friend: (Nazdar speaking) "She told me, 'He says that I must marry him or else he is going to sell me, and every day he was bringing people to his home, offering to sell them my friend.'" The allegation can't be tested. The issue is clouded in secrecy, fear and shame. The forced marriage and rape of Yazidi women has been widely reported. But while the four women we interviewed said they believed it happened to two friends, none said it happened to them. All four did give consistent, firsthand accounts of servitude and demands they renounce their culture and religion. And the threat of being forced to marry or sold to other jihadists was made often. As well as being brutal jihadists, Sharrouf and Elomar now stand accused of being involved in an organised attempt to wipe out a people. BRENDAN TREMBATH: Matt Brown with that report.