One month after disturbing reports emerged that the cash-strapped Islamic State regime, which as noted last week is rapidly losing control over territory it had gained during its 2014 blitz offensive in 2014 in Iraq and Syria, has been killing its own fighters in order to sell their organs, as well as paying $50 to fighters for every female sex slave they own, ISIS has now tapped into yet another critical cash-flow stream: selling female sex slaves.
A recent Facebook posting attributed to an Islamic State fighter who calls himself Abu Assad Almani shows a young woman, around 18, with olive skin and dark bangs that droop onto her face. In the Facebook photo, she attempts to smile but doesn’t look at her photographer. The caption mentions a single biographical fact: She is for sale.
"To all the bros thinking about buying a slave, this one is $8,000,” begins the May 20 Facebook posting by Almani. The same man posted a second image a few hours later, this one a pale young face with weepy red eyes. "Another sabiyah [slave], also about $8,000,” the posting reads. "Yay, or nay?"
As WaPo adds, after advising his Facebook friends to “get married” and “come to dawlah,” the name for the Islamic State’s territory in Iraq and Syria, Almani then engaged with different commenters in an extensive discussion about whether the $8,000 asking price was a good value. Some who replied to the postings mocked the women’s looks, while others scolded Almani for posting photos of women who weren’t wearing the veil.
The sex trade conversation then devolved into pure Econ 101: "What makes her worth that price? Does she have an exceptional skill?" one of his correspondents asks about woman in the second photo. "Nope," he replies. "Supply and demand makes her that price."
Technically $8,000 was the ask. It is unclear what if any bids were presented and if any actual trades took place.
A Yazidi who had been held by ISIS militants as a slave for several
months sits in a tent outside Duhok, Iraq.
According to WaPo, the photos were taken down within hours by Facebook; it is unclear whether the account’s owner was doing the selling himself or commenting about women being sold by other fighters.
The unusual posting suggests that not only is ISIS in desperate financial straits, but obviously hundreds of women who are now ISIS' sex slaves face an extremely perilous existence. The group's female captives appear to be sold and traded by cash-strapped fighters, subjected to shortages of food and medicine, and put at risk daily by military strikes, according to terrorism experts and human rights groups.
Social-media sites used by Islamic State fighters in recent months have included numerous accounts of the buying and selling of sex slaves, as well the promulgation of formal rules for dealing with them. The guidelines cover such topics as whether it’s possible to have sex with prepubescent prisoners, yes, the Islamic State’s "legal experts" say, and how severely a slave can be beaten.
But until the May 20 incident, there were no known instances of Islamic State fighters posting photographs of female captives being offered for sale. The photos of the two unidentified women appeared only briefly before being deleted by Facebook, but the images were captured by the Middle East Media Research Institute, a Washington nonprofit group that monitors jihadists’ social-media accounts.
Not much is known about Abu Almani, the owner of the Facebook account: according to WaPo he is thought to be a German national fighting for the Islamic State in Syria. He has previously posted to social-media accounts under that name, in the slangy, poorly rendered English used by many European fighters who can’t speak Arabic. Early postings suggest that Almani is intimately familiar with the Islamic State’s activities around Raqqa, the group’s de facto capital in Syria. He also regularly uses his accounts to solicit donations for the terrorist group.
ISIS has had to constantly innovate its sex slave trade marketing. Facebook has been quick to react to terrorists’ use its pages. At the same time, the militants also have become more agile, leaping quickly from one social-media platform to another and opening new accounts as soon as older ones are shut down.
And while we commiserate with the plight of hundreds of women who are the innocent hostages of yet another proxy war involving the world's political superpowers, we can't help but notice how increasingly streamlined and efficient the Islamic State is becoming as a result of its fiscal stress.
Recall in late April we showed a wage voucher which confirmed that ISIS is now paying soldiers extra cash for each additional family member with the biggest kick for those who have a sex slave in the form of a $50 bonus. The following crinkled wage voucher breaks it down by family member:
- For each of his two wives, al-Jiburi would receive an extra $50.
- For each of his six children under age 15, he would get another $35.
- Any “female captive” - sex slave - would entitle him to an additional $50.
So "invest" $50 to cultivate each sex slave, and then retain a substantial portion of the ~$8,000 transaction price once said slave is sold on to her future owner. Not a bad IRR for a militant regime whose collapse is now just a matter of time.