The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS) has beheaded women for the first time, accusing the two of “sorcery,” according to a human rights monitor.
“The Islamic State group executed two women by beheading them in the Deir Ezzor province,” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights chief Rami Abdel Rahman said. “This is the first time the observatory has documented women being killed by the group in this manner.
Both women were executed with their husbands, and both were accused of “sorcery.” Witchcraft is considered polytheistic and apostate in Islam, and ISIS takes a hard line against the practice.
Similarly, Saudi Arabia has previously beheaded women accused of sorcery.
Human rights groups claim that the charge of sorcery has been used in Saudi Arabia to punish women for exercising their rights to freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
Others have been executed by ISIS for allegedly practicing magic. Street performers who entertain children, in particular, have been the targets of this violence. Even simple optical illusions count as black magic, according to the strict form of Sharia law ISIS clerics preach.
Previously, ISIS has stoned women for adultery and other offenses, but this is the first known time the group executed female civilians by beheading.
Activists claim that ISIS uses tactics like brutal public executions as a way to inspire fear in local populations, as a means to coerce them into submission.
Although beheadings remain all too common, the terrorist group has committed other atrocities as methods of execution.
In February, a United Nations watchdog reported that the Islamic militants were crucifying and burying children alive. They also claimed that ISIS was using mentally handicapped children as suicide bombers and abducting young girls and selling them as sex slaves.
ISIS has also burned men alive.
The UN reported that the Islamic State was guilty of committing “systematic violence” against ethnic and religious minorities.
Overall, ISIS has executed about 3,000 civilians in its reign of terror across its “Caliphate.”
Last November, ISIS beheaded American aid worker Peter Kassig and posted a graphic video of his execution.
Some analysts say the brutality of these executions is deliberately meant to be radical so the terror group’s actions have as wide an impact as possible. News of the brutality spreads quickly on social media and contributes to a growing sense of hopelessness faced by those combatting radical Islam in the Middle East and elsewhere.