Ibrahim Abdul Qader, left, and friend Fares Hamadi. Photo courtesy of: The Telegraph | Twitter
Ibrahim Abdul Qader, a campaigner against ISIS, found beheaded in a Turkish city along with his friend, Fares Hamadi
by, Louisa Loveluck | The Telegraph
A Syrian activist working to expose the atrocities of Islamic State was found beheaded in southern Turkey on Friday, in what is believed to be the terror group’s first assassination outside of its territory.Ibrahim Abdul Qader, 20, along with his friend, Fares Hamadi, was shot and killed in the Turkish town of Urfa, 35 miles from the Syrian border. Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the killings in a video that said the pair had been targeted “after they conspired with the Crusaders against the Islamic State”.
Mr Qader was a member of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS), a group of activists who risk their lives smuggling news from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) de facto Syrian capital of Raqqa to the outside world.
A founding member of the group, Abu Ibrahim, said the bodies were discovered early on Friday morning.
“We don’t know who did it or where they are now. We just know that it was ISIS,” he said.
Turkey is cracking down on alleged ISIS networks inside its borders, after a string of terrorist attacks which have been attributed to the group.
The group was known to have a presence in Urfa, where the murders too place.
Islamic State militants captured the provincial capital of Raqqa in northern Syria two years ago and the city later became the de facto capital of the territory the IS controls, which encompasses a third of both Syria and neighboring Iraq. Since then, the activist collective has been releasing reports and photographs from inside Raqqa.
Video courtesy of: JSMedia Productions | Reuters
Inside Raqqa, membership of RBSS is punishable by imprisonment and even death, reflecting its rare position as a thorn in the side of the jihadists.
As it consolidates its brutal, sharia-inspired rule, ISIS wants to establish a monopoly over how life in the city is portrayed. Reports published by RBSS have often contradicted that carefully crafted message.
Pro-ISIS social media accounts crowed over the murders, but no official claim of responsibility was forthcoming. If the group’s involvement is confirmed, it would be its first known assassination inside Turkey, a country reeling from the reverberations of war in next door Syria.
Mr Qader had escaped to Turkey a little over a year ago, as pressure on the group ratcheted up. Several members have been executed inside Raqqa and the father of another RBSS founder, Hamoud al-Mousa, was also killed in ISIS custody.
Team members inside Turkey receive regular threats from ISIS, but Mr Ibrahim said this was the first time they had been acted on.
RBSS was the winner of this year’s International Press Freedom Award, an accolade that the Committee to Protect Journalists described as an acknowledgement for the reliability and scope of its reporting.
“While RBSS was formed to document the atrocities of Islamic State, its members have also reported critically on the Assad government’s bombings, other rebel forces, and civilian casualties caused by U.S.-led airstrikes,” it said.
To ensure maximum security, RBSS activists usually operate alone, without knowledge of who else is working for their cause.
Dispatches are communicated by phone to members in Turkey, and then disseminated across social media. As ISIS turns the screw on the activists, the groups insist they will continue the lonely fight.
“It’s difficult, but we will not stop,” said Mr Ibrahim.