WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Yazidi woman who survived the massacre of her family and sexual enslavement by Islamic State jihadists told a Senate panel that the terrorist group’s ideology motivated the recent massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, predicting that “there will be more.”
Meanwhile, a U.S. refugee who fled antigay persecution in Syria pointed out that ISIS’ brutal and lethal punishments against gays are mirrored by other groups in the Muslim-majority Middle East, including governments.
The Syrian refugee, Subhi Nahas, and the Yazidi survivor, Nadia Murad Basee Taho, were among human rights activists who testified Tuesday during a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing about the poisonous ideology of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
“I have seen Daesh, I have lived under their barbaric rule, I well know the Daesh intention. … Daesh intends to rule and destroy the whole world,” said Taho in her written testimony, using an Arabic name for ISIS.
The ISIS victim noted that the December 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, which killed 14 people and injured at least 22 others, was also motivated by ISIS’ ideology.
Both the San Bernardino massacre and the recent carnage in Orlando, which left 50 people dead, including gunman Omar Mateen, and 53 others wounded have been linked to ISIS.
“While ISIS is in the public eye as the most notorious extremist group in Syria and Iraq, it may come as a surprise that their methodology – when it comes to the treatment of LGBT people – is similar to many other groups, including governments themselves,” wrote Nahas, in remarks prepared for U.S. lawmakers. “Government regimes in the region prescribe, at the least, harsh punishments for LGBT residents, and, at the worst, the death penalty.”
“There is no haven for LGBT people in Syria, even for young gay men that ISIS uses as sex slaves,” added the Syrian refugee, who serves as the chairman of the Spectra Protection Project. “We know that many groups, including ISIS, target and kill gay people in Syria. The only difference is the method of killing they use.”
Although Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS, which has taken responsibility of the June 12 attack, the FBI argues that the gunman was not directed by a foreign terrorist organization.
Instead, the agency claims the self-proclaimed “Islamic soldier” who regularly attended a local mosque was radicalized domestically.
Various Muslim leaders and some of Mateen’s family members claimed the attack had nothing to do with religion.
Shariah (strict Islamic law), the rules that govern all aspects of a Muslim’s life, mandates the death penalty for homosexuality, a doctrine that is deeply ingrained in Islamic law and has been affirmed by many prominent Muslim scholars.
ISIS and other jihadist groups are known for savagely executing members of the LGBT community. The Orlando incident has been deemed the deadliest terrorist attack since 9/11.