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5,000 Terrorists Detained In One of The Toughest Prisons Worldwide

5,000 Terrorists Detained In One of The Toughest Prisons Worldwide

Saturday, 21 March, 2020 - 11:45
ISIS fighters in a prison for extremists in Al Hassakah
Al-Hasakah: Kamal Shaykho

In al-Hasakah, the United States and the international alliance against ISIS have established the largest prison in the world for extremists, holding around 5 thousand inmates. These are men who fought alongside ISIS until its final days in Baghuz last spring before turning themselves in and ending up in this place.

Before entering, the guards verify the visitor’s identity and put them through complicated security checks, out of fear that pro-ISIS sleeper cells may slip in. At the main gate, tens of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) personnel stand in full uniform and fully armed. Visitors are asked not to discuss field news, including the death of ISIS’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the Turkish attack on East Euphrates.

These are the ISIS members who struck fear with their extremist rules, barbaric sentences and their crimes committed between 2014 and 2019. During its peak, ISIS issued its own religious system and currency and taxed around 7 million people. It also removed borders between areas under its control in Syria and Iraq before its geographic and military control were eradicated last March at the hands of several parties that operated under the umbrella of the Arab-Kurdish SDF supported by the international alliance led by the US.

Al-Hasakah facility is one of 7 prisons in Northeast Syria and is under the control of the SDF. Its expenses reach thousands of dollars in food, healthcare, and wages. This is an expensive bill paid by the US and the United Kingdom after most western and Arab governments refused to repatriate their citizens and subject them to a trial.

Al-Hasakah is under divided control. The SDF controls the areas south, east and north of the prison, and US forces have established a military base a few meters away from the prison. The Syrian government’s forces supported by Russian fighter aircraft are only 5 kilometers away to the west and control a security square in the center.

According to the prison administration, inmates are subject to interrogations or are tried before a court and they are disconnected from the world outside and the developments on the field that the area has witnessed in the last year.

The Asharq Al-Awsat delegate watched a videotape that was recorded months ago by surveillance cameras in the prison showing tens of inmates rebelling and taking a guard captive by tricking him that one of them was sick. The SDF rapidly intervened and resolved the matter without any victims falling.

The prison administration said that the SDF used rubber bullets and teargas to restore order. It was able to control the situation and liberate the hostages, pointing out that the facility lacks a lot of equipment and surveillance systems as it is still under renovation.

Kurdish authorities and the SDF are worried that in case Turkey attacks the remaining areas under SDF control, which harbor many prisoners and detention centers, these extremists may escape.

The concerns come as extremists remain detained in buildings that are not entirely secured. Incidents of assaults and chaos have taken place, such as the one that took place in al-Hawl camp in eastern Syria, one of the largest camps where thousands of women and children of ISIS fighters live.

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