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ISIS Militants Hiding Among Migrants Bring Violence, Intimidation To U.N. Refugee Camps: 'They're Like the Mafia'

( [email protected] ) Oct 14, 2015 12:48 PM EDT
Syrian militants hidden among those fleeing to other countries have brought violence, harassment, and intimidation tactics into some refugee camps, the director of a Christian ministry in the Middle East has revealed.
Because of the dire situation in many refugee camps, UN officials have called on countries to offer increased funding to help displaced Syrians in Iraq. Reuters

Syrian militants hidden among those fleeing to other countries have brought violence, harassment, and intimidation tactics into some refugee camps, the director of a Christian ministry in the Middle East has revealed.

According to a report from Christian Aid Mission, Islamist gangs have brought practices into the United Nation refugee camps such as "coercion to join terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS), conflict between militias on both sides of the civil war and the criminal buying and selling of females as sex slaves."

"The Muslim gangs come as refugees, but they have their agendas," the ministry director, whose name is withheld for security reasons, told the news outlet. "They're like a mafia. People are even killed inside the camps, and the refugees are afraid to say if they saw somebody get killed. If you ask them, they'll say, 'I don't know, I was asleep.'"

Since overtaking large swaths of Iraq and Syria in an attempt to establish an Islamic caliphate, ISIS has displaced hundreds of thousands of citizens, who are forced to reside in refugee camps. Currently, about 20 percent of the Syrian refugees displaced by the group in Jordan are living in such camps, which offer very little protection.

"The last time I went inside a camp, I had a policeman with me," the ministry director said. "The camps are dangerous because they have ISIS, Iraqi militias and Syrian militias. It's another place for gangs. They're killing inside the camps, and they're buying and selling ladies and even girls."

Inside the camps, ISIS militants urge refugees to swear allegiance to the caliphate or be killed - a tactic members of the jihadist group openly practice in areas it has captured.

"If you're a man and you stay home when they call, you're killed," the director said. "So you go out and they tell you the rules: Why they're there, and how they're going to give you a chance to be a real Muslim, because they say they know how to make real Muslims."

The ministry director said that if someone converts to Islam and the militants sense that his heart is not really with them, they will also kill him for that. Additionally, those who are discovered hiding their friends and neighbors are beheaded by the jihadist group.

"No one could flee from their hands," he said. "They don't ask you. They bring you to the middle of town and they gather everyone - this happens almost every day - and they say, 'He hid his neighbor and he knew about it,' and they cut his head off in front of everyone."

Christian Aid reports that the the ministry, which was started in 1990 to bring both physical and spiritual aid to several countries in the Middle East, has 32 full-time workers and 400 volunteers who work to share the good news of Christ's salvation despite ongoing danger.

"We have had to follow some clever methods that outweigh the intelligence of any of us," the ministry director said. "We certainly know that God is behind these methods. We have witnessed the fruit and many great experiences throughout these years that made us realize that God is the one leading us."