Islamic State prison system – its structure, departmental affiliations, processes, conditions, and practices of psychological and physical torture

August 17, 2017

(What does the ISIS flag carry/mean*: Muhammad is the messenger of Allah /  Mohammadun Rasulu Allahi)

(Authors of the subject report: Asaad Almohammad, Ph.D., Anne Speckhard, Ph.D., & Ahmet S. Yayla, Ph.D.)

Some excerpts… (from the executive summary and the rest of the report)

  • This paper endeavors to explore the ISIS prison system, the arrest or abduction, interrogation and confession and total detention processes; as well as the condition of detention facilities, and the physical and psychological torture taking place within the terrorist organization’s jails.
  • Fifty-five ISIS cadres (defectors, returnees or prisoners) and 17 Syrian civilian interviewees who had been detained by ISIS were interviewed regarding their knowledge of and first experiences of incarceration in ISIS prison facilities. Their reports are compiled and dissected into three phases: 1) abduction/arrest, 2) initial processing including interrogation and confession phases, and 3) post interrogation processing.
  • The accounts obtained from ISIS cadres, detainees and sources on the ground provided a chilling portrayal of ISIS’ prison system. The detention facilities are run by different entities. These entities are namely: the Islamic police, military police, hisbah (morality police), raid squads, and Emni (security forces). Methods of detention, conditions, and torture and punishment varied across the aforementioned entities.
  • Throughout their abduction/arrest and interrogation, detainees are subjected to a number of psychological methods of torture. These include the threat of execution, promises to receive similar fates as other tortured fellow detainees, solitary confinement, and the placement of severed heads in cages in which detainees are being held. Elaborate physical torture includes seven methods named as follows: Lashing, the Fuel, Bisat al-Rih (Flying Carpet), Shabeh (Ghost), German Chair, the Biter, and the Tire.


The leftover food of male detainees, often served in dirty bowls, is given to caged female prisoners. Moreover, female hisbah operatives, on occasions, threw severed heads into the cages to amplify detainees’ state of terror. One interviewee, a 32-year-old woman, who was detained at a hisbah facility provided chilling details on ISIS’ psychological abuse [41]:

They brought her [a fellow detainee] back. She was unconscious. They put her in the cage next to mine. One of the hisbah’s women carried a severed head of a young man. I was so scared that I made some sound. She [the woman carrying the severed head] told me to shut up or she will use the biter on me herself. They put the severed head next to the unconscious woman and locked the cage. I looked away. I did not want to see the head. The woman [the unconscious detainee] woke up and pushed herself to the end corner of the small cage, as far as she could from the head. She kept looking around and breathing heavily. Then she started to get closer to the head. She turned it towards her so she can see the face. Once she saw the face she started howling. She howled so loudly and for too long. She kept slapping her face as she wailed. I thought she knew him. They came the next day and took the head away. One of the hisbah women told us that the head belongs to the woman’s [the fellow detainee’s] infidel brother. The woman did not eat or speak a word for 2 days after they removed the head. They took her somewhere; maybe they released or killed her. Nobody told us anything about her; we were scared to ask. I would want to die if I were her.

Some idiot & ignorant muslim youth of Tamilnadu supporting ISIS, India*


Similarly, ISIS cadres reported that those arrested for smoking, dress infringements, or breaking ISIS rules were taken by the ISIS hisbah and placed in ISIS jail where floggings and other punishments would take place. In the case of women, if they were arrested, these beatings took place privately inside the prisons where the women were flogged on their bare skin or “bitten” with a metal device. Two defectors and one woman who had served in the ISIS hisbah told about women using this metal device to “bite” other women on fleshy parts of their bodies including their breasts—causing one woman to bleed to death. The hisbah member who bit other women as a form of punishment explained [6]:

We would take off the clothes of the woman until she is in her underwear then we would beat her with a lash and then there are special women in the hisbah for biting and they would bite that woman. So we would torture that woman so badly that when the husband came from the other side she wouldn’t be able to walk. Then from out of this prison she would feel I would never do this again because of the things she suffered from the imprisonment. Her husband needed to pay a fine and he need to purchase the proper abaya and sign the paperwork that he would comply to the rules completely in the future.

While women were usually flogged privately in ISIS jails, one defector recalled a Syrian woman, who was observed without her niqaab outside of her home, being beaten in public by ISIS cadres causing her to miscarry her child then and there; leaving a trail of blood from where she sat while she was flogged mercilessly [7].

ISIS in Kashmir, India*


The hisbah women’s detention facility is located in the same building. Women who are detained for activities other than conspiring against ISIS or cooperating with coalition forces are commonly held in facilities that belong to the hisbah. They get detained, interrogated, tutored, or executed by women of the hisbah. Thirty female ISIS operatives were reported to be running that detention facility and ICSVE researchers spoke to one who had worked inside the hisbah prison torturing other women [20].


Whole report: html. pdf. Read. Weep. And may be, donate to the cause of the Kurds. And, Yezidis. Thanks.

* Photos/images are NOT part of the report. They merely express my sense of horror.


6 Responses to “Islamic State prison system – its structure, departmental affiliations, processes, conditions, and practices of psychological and physical torture”

  1. nparamasivam1951 Says:

    Horrible article about horrible people. Request you, Sir, to avoid this kind of blogs.

    • Dear Sir, I appreciate where you are coming from – but, these kinds of (authenticated and meticulously verified) news items are hard to come by. The ‘mainstream’ media are most interested in platitudes and content-free communication. So.

      I have *personally* lost quite a few great and fantastic muslim (kurdish) friends to islamic terrorists. Many acquaintances continue to contribute their blood to the cleansing of the muddle-east, the region and the religion. I want a few folks who read this blog to become better/more informed. So.

      I am NOT squeamish about these kinds of stuff, these are par for the course for the middle-east discourse. However, please note that I have not shared REALLY gruesome short videos and photos of islamic state rapists and murderers. I have seen a few of some 30+ such videos and am transcribing them and believe me, you do NOT want to know about them – leave alone what you read in this report. I am NOT squeamish, but I have spent many a sleepless night over these scumbag Islamists. What you read in the report is ONLY a small, minuscule tip of the iceberg. So.

      Also, I hear of reports about the spreading tentacles of ISIS in India and ignorant muslim youth falling for it (including in TN), for the latter do not realize that, Islam has the best environment to nurture itself in India, even to get rid off the negative elements embedded within it. So.

      Also, many of my knowledgeable friends (including some very nice and beautifully evolved muslim brethren) of mine would either want to keep quiet or migrate to USA/Canada/Europe rather than hold their fort here etc. I understand them, but…

      Most of all – I feel that there is scope on the Internet about all kinds of news, including this news. So consider these kinds of posts of mine as an ‘yet another point-of-view.’

      I also periodically talk to ‘educated’ and well-meaning islamic scholars who say that what ISIS does is not islam and they are not muslims and they do not represent islam. In this context, I merely want to point out that, it is not so. They are, and are following their tenets to the letter & spirit.

      This is because, I do my homework. I do not believe in whitewashing. I am NOT an apologist. I believe in evolution. I believe in gray. I am concerned about the plight of so many muslims who are caught in the web of propaganda. I commiserate with them. So.

      But, all I would say is, grow-up, adapt and go. Go forth and shine.


      Sir Paramasivam, would you mind it, if I post one gruesome photo of a brave&naked kurdish women fighter getting beheaded by islamists?

  2. nparamasivam1951 Says:


  3. Sivakumar Viswanathan Says:

    Dear Ram

    Among a whirlwind of satiric light hearted treatises, you throw such hard punch with articles like these…You are a master. A reality check on the quality and value of life we are blessed with being born an Indian in India. Though I don’t believe in the existence of good and evil in its metaphorical context, yet a real war is constantly fought between the two. Right?

    This is the path that humanity and the human race journeyed and survived to evolve. The precipitation of any action like this barbaric violence sucks away part of our being and questions the essence of existence. There are many disparaging questions in my heart…the heart of an atheist is heavily loaded. Is not so?

    – I realize conflict is a fundamental human behaviour…with endless undercurrents…spiritual, philosophical, religious, caste, clan, neighbourhoods and what not. The recorded history is strewn with the dead bodies of the dissidents, either side whichever…

    – I am at my late forties and I don’t remember the world was such a nasty place during my teens as it is today. This is a key shift. IRAs, PLOs receding though and late surge and demise of LTTE.

    – What could be the tipping point for the world that was recovering from the post-world war-II catastrophe to divide itself on this hate and violent drudgery? Was there really a tipping point? Or that too is part of the evolution…

    – Why the benevolent humanity (which is majority) fail to impress and ingress the muddled brains of the malevolent? What is that special incentive, the one they are unable to refuse? 72 virgins can be loath-ful. Think about the Blue Whale Challenge. Young minds pushed to the precipice, is adrenaline the incentive…?

    – Is religion just an excuse for a fundamentally badgering R-complex?

    It is a never abating maelstrom of ifs and buts and whys and why nots

    Keep enriching us Ram with your wits and knowledge.

  4. Manohar Says:

    Remember reading somewhere that Islam came into being so that people see and feel what is ‘Kali’ yuga like. Sir, is it ok if i share a link to this in twitter?

    • Dear Manohar, no issues. Please go ahead.

      Anyway – there is no copyright whatsoever for the othisaivu content – and so feel free to do whatever with the content here.

      Per comment on Islam: Islam is a product of those times and is heavily circumscribed by the geographies, social structures, environmental realities and scarcities of those times; there have been interesting things that happened via Islam, as long as the dar al-harb territories weren’t forcibly converted to dar al-islam. Till a politically virulent islam was sought to be propagated thru’ arabization of islam and islamization of nations/states.

      Now is the schism between virulent forms of islam vs ordinary muslim. All I can say is that we are living in interesting and enervating times, what else!


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