Deserting Islamic State fighters trying to cross enemy lines and vanish into Iraqi-government held territory are taking advantage of the distinctive local dress to aid their escape, donning burkas to hide their true identities.
The legitimate Iraqi army has reportedly captures a number of fleeing fighters, finding them to have shaved off their beards and abandoned their arms before using the costume to flee their posts. Photographs posted on image-sharing service Instagram even shows men wearing eye make-up and padded bras to maintain the façade of femininity, reports the Daily Mirror.
The Instagram account is used to disseminate anti-ISIS propaganda by Iraqi operators, and in addition to the cross-dressing fighters, it also contains images of dead ISIS fighters and inspirational pictures of soldiers on the front line.
Despite the glossy recruitment magazines and slick propaganda videos, many who made the journey to the Islamic State in search of riches and a life free of Western decadence have come to discover life in the Caliphate is not all they hoped, and defections are becoming common. Breitbart London reported the account of one Syrian woman who defected from the Islamic State last year after working as a member of the feared morality police.
She described the experience and duties of members of the all-women al-Khansaa brigade: “We’d patrol the streets. If we saw a woman who was not wearing the correct sharia clothing, we would grab her. Sometimes, they would be lashed”. Despite enjoying the power of her position, after being forced into marriage with a fighter and witnessing the treatment of other women, she decided to escape.
“The foreign fighters are very brutal with women, even the ones they marry. There were cases where the wife had to be taken to the emergency ward because of the sexual violence… I don’t want anyone else to be duped by them. Too many girls think they are the right Islam”.