“We will bring him back in ten minuets” | Family from Al-Raqqah city tell circumstances of arrest of their son by ISIS six years ago and call for disclosing his fate
“Take care of my niece, Yamamah, and my olive tree,” this was the last will by Qutaybah Saleh Al-Ibrahim, a 37-year-old man who has been forcibly disappeared in ISIS prisons, since members of “Al-Hisba” (ISIS security service) arrested him from his house in Al-Raqqah city six years ago, during ISIS control of the city.
Speaking to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Qutaybah’s 43-year-old sister called “Um Qutaybah” told circumstances of the arrest of Qutaybah from his house for no reasons. The woman said “My brother neither engaged in military actions during ISIS control of Al-Raqqah city nor participated in demonstrations or sit-in protests. He was only busy teaching English to his students, since he was graduated from Aleppo University in 2010. After ISIS had captured Al-Raqqah city, Qutaybah stopped working at school and his work confined to English curricular courses at homes secretly.”
According to SOHR sources, ISIS turned many schools into governmental institutions, military headquarters and prisons during its control of Al-Raqqah city. ISIS also established faculties of languages, medicine and nursing, where the duration of language courses was one year while medicine and nursing courses took two years.
Qutaybah’s sister added, “between 2014 and 2016 my brother worked in cattle business in a livestock market in the city known as ‘Al-Makef’ with several relatives, as his living conditions deteriorated at that time, like many other residents in the city, especially teachers. Many of these teachers left the city because of their dire living conditions, but Qutaybah preferred not to leave. In September 2016, precisely in the afternoon of the eve Eid Al-Adha (an official holiday which is celebrated within Islam), someone knocked the door.
I: Who is there?
The man: Muthana, Muthana. Is Qutaybah here?
I: Yes, he is. But he is sleeping.
After that, I heard no voices, and I tried to know who was talking, but I found nobody. A few minuets later, my brother’s daughter entered the house panting and she looked scared, and she cried, ‘aunt, aunt Al-Hisba members are coming.’ I attempted to calm her and put on my Niqab to check what was going on. The door knocked again.
I: Who is there?
A man: Haytham, Haytham. I need Qutaybah to check an “udhiyah” (In Islamic Law, udhiyah would refer to the sacrifice of a specific animal, offered by a specific person, on specific days).
I: He is sleeping.
The man: Wake him up urgently.
Qutaybah woke up due to that noise and get out of the room barefoot with an undershirt and pajamas. As soon as Qutaybah stepped out of the room, masked men with rifles climbed the house’s walls and drew Qutaybah to a white car, “H 1” make. One of these men fired bullets in the air and asked us to be calm. After we had begged these men to tell us the reason behind arresting Qutaybah, one of them told us that he would be brought back in ten minuets and that they took him to give testimony. The men also asked us to check the security centre in the sports hall in Tel Abyad street.”
According to SOHR sources, Al-Raqqah city witnessed large-scale security campaigns by ISIS in 2016 when several civilians were arrested in a bizarre and detestable way. First, security services made sure of the presence of the wanted individuals in their houses with the help of spies operating secretly in the city for the favour of ISIS, then security members storm the suspects’ houses and arrest them. Moreover, ISIS established several centres for checking the situation of the arrested civilians by their families, where these centres were located in the “tribal council” headquarters next to the children park, the sports hall in Tel Abyad street, Al-Amasi area and Al-Wadi street.
For months after the arrest of Qutaybah, his family hoped to reach any information about him. Qutaybah’s sister said, “in December 2017, we received a call by a man who told us that Qutaybah would be released in that evening. We prepared our house to welcome him and waited for his arrival for a long time. We were surprised when a young man was the one coming to our house. The young man told us that he was detained with Qutaybah in the same ward and that Qutaybah assures us that he would be release so soon, as he was not accused of any charges. However, we received no more news from Qutaybah until we displaced from Al-Raqqah city with many other families over the rumor of the collapse of Euphrates river.”
After the displacement of the family from the city, Qutaybah’s nephew who worked as a journalist managed to reach new information about Qutaybah, as an ISIS “Emir” (senior commander) known as “Abu Aatika” informed him that Qutaybah was transported from Al-Raqqah city to Al-Baghouz prison. For six years now, Qutaybah’s family has been still attempting to known his fate, as it is not known yet if the man died or still alive.
SOHR activists have confirmed that many families in Al-Raqqah city believe that their children, who were arrested by ISIS and forcibly disappeared in ISIS prisons, are still alive, especially since ISIS usually showed video-contents and photos of people who faced death penalty and executed by ISIS.