Formerly a prisoner of Isis, Masoud Aqil endured beatings, torture and was threatened with execution for nine months all due to being a Kurdish journalist.
Aqil is now safe and in Germany, where he is assisting German authorities in tracking down anyone who is connected to the terrorist group that were responsible not only for destroying his life, but also for murdering his friends and family.
Aqil was studying English Literature at Aleppo University when the civil war broke out. He fled the city after many students were killed in a 2013 bombing. The 23-year-old returned to his hometown, Qumishli, which is in the Kurdish Rojava province. By this point jihadis were gaining the power they needed to launch an offensive that has left the world shocked and continues to do so.
— KDK News (@NewsKdk) October 9, 2016
The young man continued to attempt to complete his degree from home and began working as a video journalist for Rudaw, a Kurdish network. After more than a year on the job, it was a trip to interview a local politician that resulted in a horrific twist.
Aqil spoke in an interview with The Independent and describes the situation when he and Farhad Hamo, a colleague, were on their way to the interview when they saw a roadblock ahead. It was December 15, 2014.
“Isis were waiting on the highway,” he said. “I don’t know if they were waiting for us or if they were there to catch anyone.”
The men were asked where they were going and who they were. The pair said they were oil workers, but the six jihads with M16 rifles spotted the camera equipment in the back on the vehicle. One of the fighters then jumped in the car and ordered them to drive into ISIS-controlled territory adding that he would blow himself up with the car if the men didn’t comply with his orders.
So began nine months of torture in a house that had been converted into a prison.
“They tortured us and interrogated us. They beat us with iron bars, cables or wood, tying us to the ceiling by our hands. Every two or three hours one of the guards would come in and tell us ‘we will cut off your heads, we will bury you alive’. In the first week, I one hundred per cent believed it. But after one month and then two months…I thought maybe they needed me alive. Maybe they will let me go.”
Aqil described how the fight to stay alive was a daily struggle, while living in filthy cells that were covered in excrement and infested with parasites, feeding on nothing more than mouldy bread and drinking dirty water.
— Berthold Barz (@BertholdBarz) October 8, 2016
The former journalists shared how his cellmates would be taken out, following which he would hear gunshots and fighters would return to show him videos of the killings. Aqil stated that many prisoners were killed for simply listening to Western music, such as rap and rock.
“The guards were always playing us speeches by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and [propaganda chief] Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. They said they were starting to send citizens to Europe and later they will carry out terror attacks. When I heard that I knew that Isis will make Europe a target.”
Kurdish authorities, Rudaw and Aqil’s family all the while worked to make a deal to get him out. The day finally came when a deal was struck and an exchange was made. It was September 21, 2015.
“I can’t even describe the moment where I got out – every day I think about it,” he recalled. “I don’t know how to describe it.”
Since this point, Aqil and his family have found refuge in Europe. Aqil was swiftly allocated refugee accommodation in Germany and is helping the German police by telling them all the information he knows. Since leaving Syria, many of Aqil’s friends and family have been killed in bombings. He reminds that it is simply what ISIS does.
“That is Isis, that’s what Isis do,” Mr Aqil said. “I saw what they did in Paris and Brussels and I’m afraid of that because European countries are the safest, and Isis wants to set the world on fire and take it to war. Their radical mentality doesn’t let them accept anything different. You’re a radical Muslim and accept them or they kill you. As long as this mentality is on the earth, they will attack us, it won’t let us live in peace.”
[Feature Photo by John Moore/Getty Images]