During a November 16, 2018 interview with Al-Hurra TV (U.S.), a former ISIS member from Saraqib, Syria said that he regretted fighting for ISIS. The man, whose name is Ehab, said that they would have killed him if he didn't fight for them and that he stayed with them until he had a chance to escape. He said that ISIS came to Saraqib after the Free Syrian Army left, and that they arrested men by accusing them of collaborating with the enemy. He recounted an incident where ISIS beheaded a shepherd because his flock grazed in regime territory. Ehab said that after being arrested and tortured, he was attached to a group of ISIS fighters who used him as a human shield and threatened to kill him if he didn't shoot where they told him to. He said that he fought for them for 22 days without pay, and that his daily rations consisted of half a loaf of bread and a small bottle of water, which he didn't drink for fear of being drugged. Ehab said that he does not know who he had fought or harmed and that he prays for Allah's forgiveness.
Following are excerpts:
Ehab: I definitely regret becoming an ISIS member, but I had no choice. I could either fight for ISIS or die. I had to remain with them until I got a chance to escape. Who did I kill? Who did I take prisoner? Who did I harm? I don't know. I always pray that Allah forgive me if I injured, harmed, or killed anyone. I did not mean to do it. I pray for Allah's forgiveness.
When the Free Syrian Army [FSA] fled [Saraqib], ISIS came in. Overnight, everything changed completely.
They placed guards on the roads, planted explosive devices, and started arresting young men who could bear arms – people who had served in the Syrian Army or others who could bear arms. They would enter a person's home and accuse him of collaborating with the regime or of being a member of the FSA. They would say that they came to arrest him. This is how they arrested young men. They came to my house and arrested me. They accused me of collaborating with the regime.
I went with them and for the first 2-3 days, they tortured me a lot.
Inteviewer: What did they do?
Ehab: Beatings, lashings, and threats of execution. They would take us outside and slaughter someone before our eyes. There was a shepherd whose sheep used to graze in areas belonging to the regime. They accused him of being in areas controlled by the regime. He said that he had to in order to continue making a living. He said: "If you want me to stop, it will be the end of my flock." They took him to the emir and the shepherd spoke honestly: "I collaborate with the regime because the regime protects my livelihood." They forced him onto his knees, they said "Allah Akbar," put a knife to his throat, and slaughtered him. They cut off his head and threw it in front of us in order to terrify us. Indeed, we were terrified.
They instilled fear in our hearts and made us submit to them. They said: "In 2-3 days, you will go to war with us." And we did. They attached us to a group that consisted of four men from the Gulf, and three others that we were not allowed to talk to. I didn't hear their language. They were probably foreigners, I don't know. They put us up front as human shields.
I fought with them for 22 days, and they did not pay me. They gave us food, but every day each of us only got half a loaf of bread. They also gave us a small bottle of water, but I didn't drink from it.
Ehab: We were afraid that they put drugs in it to mess up our memory. We heard that this is what they had done with others before us.
Interviewer: Can you tell us how they treated you?
Ehab: They treated us with great cruelty. When we fought, they would stand behind us. We were fighting because they were threatening us. They said that if someone didn't shoot where they told him to, they would shoot him in the back. We did this, but we didn't even know who we were fighting.