Life in Raqqa

Abu Ibrahim al-Raqqawi “Inside the Islamic State ‘capital’: no end in sight to its grim rule”

ISIS*1はシリアのラッカ*2を2013年8月に制圧し、「首都」と称した。また、それ以来、ラッカは米国及びそれに同調する諸国の空爆のターゲットともなっている。上掲のテクストはISIS制圧下のラッカ市民及びISIS戦闘員の生活についてのレポート。筆者のAbu Ibrahim al-Raqqawi氏は「ラッカは静かに屠られている(Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently)」*3という反ISIS組織の活動家であるという。

Isis doesn’t want people to work, it just wants them to suffer, so that the men will join the group, and the women will marry Isis fighters. The Isis men seem to be sex-mad. They are always confiscating Viagra from pharmacies, which people think they use themselves. Many take several wives and are still looking for captives to take as concubines, like the Yazidi women*4 .

Isis has banned men born after 1992 from leaving the city for regime areas, to take exams, collect salaries or anything else. That means that no one can go any more, because who wants to flee to Turkey without their wife or daughters and sons?

Also, people don’t want to leave because as soon as anyone goes, Isis seizes their house. It has confiscated many homes from Christians, members of the Free Syrian Army and any activists it has caught.

Before Isis took over, the population of Raqqa was 1 million; now it is 400,000. But people say, ‘Where will I go? What will I do? I have no money to live in Turkey. And they will take my house.’ So they just stay here, waiting for an unknown tomorrow.

With no work, they mostly just stay at home watching television or using the internet. Ordinary people cannot live without internet and Isis cannot live without the internet; it’s like the heroin trade here, everyone is addicted.

They just go on Facebook or WhatsApp, since they can’t really watch videos or Skype, and in any case people worry about causing trouble with Isis. They sometimes inspect your phone at checkpoints, and if they find un-Islamic pictures or messages, you are in trouble.


People are worried about their children. No children are being forced to join up, but they are bored. They have no school, and Isis bans anyone under 13 from working. All day children are surrounded by fighters with Kalashnikovs. It’s like the movies – they see these things and eventually they want to go to the recruitment camps, so it’s very dangerous.

After being closed for a year, the schools reopened this month, but teachers had to go and denounce themselves for using “infidel” textbooks in the past. No one is happy about the new Isis ones they have been given.

School goes only up to ninth grade (middle school) and parents are so worried that their children will be brainwashed that they mostly keep them at home. A few people run small schools at home to teach their children, but it is extremely dangerous. Isis says it will kill any teachers who it catches running private schools, particularly ones for girls.


The jihadis from other countries tend to stick in groups by nationality or language – the British together, the Dutch together – and they don’t have much to do with ordinary people here. Both sides are afraid of each other.

If someone tries to talk with the foreigners, the Islamic police are likely to turn up and ask why he is bothering them, or perhaps accuse him of being a spy. But the foreigners are also nervous, perhaps because their families or governments in their countries don’t know they are here. Maybe they are worried that their photos or real names might be published, and that this will cause problems if they want to go home.

In fact, though, there is little chance of them going back. It’s easy to get into Raqqa, but very hard to get out. When foreign fighters go to Raqqa the first thing they do is confiscate their passports, and in sermons at the mosques Isis has warned people against giving foreigners new IDs.

Some of them just get bored when they arrive here from London or New York. Raqqa was never an exciting city and now there is nothing to do at all, so they lose enthusiasm. Others just came to live a good life under the caliphate, but they don’t really want to fight, so when Isis needs men and tries to take them to the frontline they are unhappy.

Isis can’t afford news to get out of people defecting, so anyone attempting to sneak out is executed in secret. They killed several people in the west of the city and just dumped their bodies in a hole until the smell got so bad that they had to bury them*5.


*1:See also

*2: これはシリア(アサド政権)側によるサイト。See eg.


*4:See Annabell Van den Berghe “Humiliation replaces fear for the women kidnapped by Isis”

*5:ISISからの脱走兵の処刑については、(例えば)木村正人「市民や人質の処刑に失望、6千人が「イスラム国」を脱走 スパイ容疑で122人処刑」(も参照のこと。