By Fehim Tastekin
ANKARA (Al-Monitor) — Six years after its gruesome assault on the Yazidi minority in Iraq, the Islamic State (IS) continues to sell Yazidi captives online on what is known as the “deep web” of criminal activities. A number of such sales have taken place in Turkey, indicating that IS militants are still able to take shelter in the country.
Most recently, a 7-year-old Yazidi girl was rescued by police posing as buyers. According to Turkish journalist Hale Gonultas, who closely follows the fate of IS captives, police took action after an advertisement in Kurdish and Arabic, complete with the girl’s picture, appeared online Feb. 23. Posing as relatives of the child, the police made the highest bid and were able to detect the address of the advertiser. They raided a home in Ankara’s Kecioren district the following day and rescued the girl.
According to the official account of the incident, police and intelligence services established that a suspect, who was a ranking member of IS in Mosul, Iraq, had made it to Ankara, bringing along a Yazidi child as “war booty.” The man, identified only as S.O., was detained along with a suspected accomplice.
After such online “auctions,” the captives are usually delivered via “safe middlemen” who are typically criminals involved in the trafficking of drugs, arms and humans. The rescued girl remains in state care in Ankara, as Iraqi commissions dealing with missing Yazidis are working to trace her family.
In July 2020, a 24-year-old Yazidi woman, held captive in Ankara’s Sincan district, was rescued by relatives in Australia who “bought” her in an online sale. According to Gonultas, the Yazidi woman’s captor — a Turkmen IS member from Mosul — had bought her from an online slave market in 2018. The man, who moved frequently between Iraq and Turkey, kept a home in Sincan with his two wives, four children and the Yazidi woman.