Ex-ISIS fighters claim paying their way out of jail — Analysis

Former ISIS fighters have claimed the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are charging $8,000 per person to free militants from prisons under a so-called ‘reconciliation’ scheme.

According to a report in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, former ISIS fighters, who fought for the militant group until it was defeated in 2019, secured their freedom from the Syrian al-Hawl prison facility through the scheme.

At the moment, there are three SDF-controlled Jails in Northeast Syria that hold approximately 8,000 Iraqi/Syrian individuals accused of fighting ISIS. Additionally, there are 2,000 internationals who are still waiting to be returned to their countries.

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The ex-ISIS militants claimed that at least 10 people, to their knowledge, have bought their freedom through what’s been reportedly dubbed a ‘reconciliation’ scheme. The two men provided the British-based newspaper with documentation to back up their claims, as well as testimony of how they’d been released from detention.

Abu Jafar claims that he was freed after his family had sold property. He also stated that he paid $8,000 in fines and $22,000 in bribes for SDF officials. Abu Muhammad also claimed that he was fighting alongside ISIS in the frontline and had paid $14,000 in bribes as well as the $8,000 figure.

Farhad Shami, spokesperson for the SDF, denied that the scheme existed. He rejected the Guardian’s documentation and stated that there has never been any payment made to ex-ISIS fighters. Shami admitted that there were some people involved in the scheme. “IS-run offices or were forced to join IS”If they were not able to pay, “hands were not stained by blood.”He said that anyone who is released from prison was. “monitored by security forces” to ensure they don’t seek to rejoin or aid the militant group again.

The reported scheme was not confirmed by the international anti-IS coalition, which stated that all prison facilities in the country are under the control of the SDF.

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