In early February, over 260 Assyrians were taken captive in the northern Syrian province al-Hasakah. As of late, 19 of the hostages were released by a self-proclaimed ISIS court.
The reason for the release remains unclear and many suspect it is an attempt “to get credibility by showing that they follow rules and that they have some kind of transparent process that follows their particular implementation of Sharia law,” Graeme Wood, with The Atlantic, said.
“Most of the people that were taken were young women and children. I do not understand why someone would go and abduct them. It is sad to think there are people in this world that would think of doing something like that just to make a statement,” Julia Ugan, grandmother of junior Jorge Ugan, said.
ISIS, the radical Sunni militant group, continues to terrorize, forcing thousands to flee their homes.
Their murderous campaign has forced over 200,000 people to leave the Syrian city of Ayn al-Arab.
“Most of my family members have fled to different places that are safer than Syria. My nephew went to live with his family in Egypt, and another nephew fled to Lebanon. Currently, my sister and her son are trying to get visas to Canada,” Ugan said.
Much like those in Syria, more than 20 members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority were murdered by ISIS just last month.
Earlier this month, a US-led coalition conducted 12 air strikes against the terrorist group.
Strikes in Iraq and Syria began in August after ISIS gained significant control of the two countries.
“The airstrikes do both bad and good. It helps fight against terrorist groups like ISIS, but villages and civilians often pay the price,” freshman Kareem Joudi said.
Living under ISIS control, people face a continuous series of daily hardships. Basic utilities have ceased to function, and religious minorities are required to pay a tax.
“My grandmother went to Iraq to finish up some business, but once ISIS captured the area surrounding Baghdad she was forced to stay. She is not allowed to return to the US because they’re shooting down passenger planes, and anything they feel poses a threat to them,” Joudi said.
The growing influence of ISIS has led many of its supporters to threaten Twitter employees, specifically targeting Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.
The media platform often deletes accounts related to the terrorist group and because of this Dorsey and Twitter employees have become a target for the radical militant group.
“This is putting a negative view on Islam, which is actually peaceful. They like to call themselves an Islamic state when really they are murdering their own people to send some archaic message,” Joudi said.