(New York, N.Y. / London) – Today, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) launched the new report Western Foreign Fighters and the Yazidi Genocide, authored by London-based CEP Strategic Advisor Liam Duffy.
Using archived social media activity, interviews with captured or stranded foreign fighters, and first-hand testimonies from survivors of ISIS captivity, the report collates evidence of Western foreign fighters’ extensive involvement in the atrocities committed by ISIS against Iraq’s marginalized Yazidi minority.
The report outlines how the Yazidi people were deliberately targeted by ISIS. More than 3,000 Yazidis are thought to have been killed in the initial assault by ISIS, many in mass executions. Almost 7,000 Yazidi women and children were systematically kidnapped and enslaved.
Of the 67 genocide survivors interviewed for this paper, almost all had come into contact with foreign ISIS recruits in captivity, with half encountering fighters from Europe, North America, Australia, or New Zealand. Several respondents were personally abused or assaulted by Western recruits.
Liam Duffy, strategic advisor to CEP outlined the purpose of the paper: “As the fate of hundreds of their own citizens who joined ISIS remains in the balance in Northern Syria, Western governments must investigate whether crimes against humanity were committed by these recruits, as well as those who have already returned to no sanction. As this paper shows, involvement by Westerners in the sexual enslavement of Yazidi women and girls was widespread, yet so far, no one has been made to answer for these atrocities. It is a moral and legal imperative that states committed to justice and the rule of law pursue accountability for the Yazidi genocide, starting with their own citizens.”
Despite the widespread involvement of Westerners in the genocide exemplified by this report, only Germany has brought a handful of charges against Western homegrown recruits. Many Western ISIS recruits have even returned to their home countries to continue to live as civilians.
David Ibsen, executive director for CEP, said: “The West has a responsibility both to its citizens and to the Yazidi people, to hold these foreign fighters accountable for their heinous actions. From both a human rights and national security perspective, it is imperative that investigations are led into both returnees and nationals stranded overseas for the crimes committed.”
The report was introduced today at a webinar, with award-winning historian, author, and broadcaster Tom Holland and President of Yazda Haider Elias.
To read the report Western Foreign Fighters and the Yazidi Genocide, please click here.