There is a group who are part of a committed underground of several journalists who  are sharing information about what is really happening in the capitol city of ISIS, Raqqa, Syria. They call themselves, “Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently or R.B.S.S. Under threat of execution, they have smuggled videos, images and reports to their allies in the west. Then theses western cohorts post this information on the internet which has been referred to and used frequently by worldwide media outlets. They have courageously posted details about deaths by crucifixion; be-headings; sexual abuse against women; and other crimes. Those R.B.S.S. participants who have been exposed both inside of Raqqa and abroad, have been killed.

Incidently, the news media such as CNN and the news are reporting that the Kurds are preparing for battle with ISIS in Raqqa. There is also news that ISIS members are building tunnels and taking steps to defend themselves, for what they know is an imminent bi -rage of fire power by the west, targeting them.

ISIS llustration for a feature in November's Wired Italia

The New Yorker reporter, David Remick conducted a discussion with some of R.B.S.S. members at a New York bar. The following are some excerpts from their conversations posted on 11/22/15:

“Abdel Aziz al-Hamza, a slender man of twenty-four, acts as spokesperson. As recently as a few years ago, he was a biology student at Raqqa University who dreamed of studying pharmacology in Jordan or Turkey and returning home to start his career and a family.”


“I was a normal guy,” he said, after taking a first sip of his vodka-and-Sprite. “I hung out with friends at cafés and bars. None of us were political. In Syria, before the revolution, it was a crime to be political in any way.” Raqqa was a relatively prosperous city with energy resources and an agricultural base. Major dams in the area are an important source of power in Syria.”

“When anti-regime demonstrations broke out in March, 2011, in Dara’a, a city in the south, and reports spread throughout Syria that Bashar al-Assad’s security forces were firing on civilians, Hamza and many others joined in protests, in Raqqa. “We wanted to be free,” he said. “It seemed simple.”


“As the uprising against Assad spread throughout Syria and the casualty counts rose, tens of thousands of people left Aleppo, Homs, Idlib, and other embattled cities and towns and arrived in Raqqa, which is on the northern bank of the Euphrates River. The city swelled and became known for a while as “the hotel of the revolution.”

“By March, 2013, Free Syrian Army (F.S.A.) troops, as well as Islamist rebel forces, including al-Nusra, controlled the city and tore down a statue of Assad’s father, Hafez al-Assad, to celebrate. “Raqqa was the first liberated city in Syria,” Hamza said.”

ISIS 15isiswomen-web5-articleLargeThe Tal Abyad street market last year, before the Eid al-Adha festival. Credit Reuters

“But at around the same time, members of ISIS, or the Islamic State, bearing black flags, began accumulating in the nearby town of Slouk. “At first, there were only around fifteen people,” Hamza said. “None of us knew about it” until fighters from al-Nusra began switching over to ISIS, which had its origin in Iraq. “Over time, around ninety per cent of the Nusra fighters in the area became ISIS, and only ten per cent of them refused,” Hamza said.”

“In May, 2013, ISIS fighters started making kidnapping runs and attacking F.S.A. leaders, and, by late summer, there were full-scale battles with F.S.A. troops. As the F.S.A. began to suffer defeats, car bombings, kidnappings, and executions, one of the journalists at the table said, some F.S.A. soldiers “out of complete fear” also joined ISIS. People in Raqqa could see that ISIS was growing stronger, as they brought in heavy weapons from Iraq and seasoned soldiers who had fought in the Iraqi Army under Saddam Hussein. By the beginning of 2014, ISIS had absolute control of the city. They now overran the mosques, drove out Christians from the city, and turned major municipal buildings into their various headquarters. The propaganda campaign that ISIS mustered following the capture of Raqqa brought on a wave of foreigners.”


“No one thought about the caliphate until 2014 when they declared Raqqa the capital of the caliphate and then these guys started coming in from all around the world.” “It was like New York! A second New York! People from Australia! From Belgium! From Germany! From France! A global tide!”

“The young foreign fighters were, and remain, privileged characters in the city. There are thousands of them in Raqqa, one of the R.B.S.S. journalists said: “When you are on the street you see them everywhere. They love fast-food places and Internet cafés. People are poor and see these expensive things!

ISIS Sheikh Musa Cerantonio
ISIS Sheikh Musa Cerantonio

“The first crucifixion came early that spring—a horrific event to recall even now. Everyone at the table remembered the shock of it. Then came more: two people, shot in the head by ISIS executioners, crucified, and left for days for all to witness in the city’s main traffic roundabout.”

“This was something new that we had never seen, this kind of violence,” Hamza said. “They started cutting heads off, crucifixions. They spread panic everywhere.” There were edicts against drinking and smoking. Enforced by an all-female morality police called the Khansaa Brigade, women were made to wear the veil and, eventually, black shoes only. They are beaten if their niqab is somehow too revealing, a veil too flimsy, or if they are caught walking on the street alone.”

SYRIA Abu-Bakr-al-Baghdadi

“I can say that women are the people suffering the most under ISIS,” one R.B.S.S. member said. “They can’t show their faces. ISIS bothers them a lot. They take sticks and slash them on the street if the veil shows the eyes. They say, ‘Hey, hey, do you want to marry me?’ People have become so poor, the families so weak, that some give up their daughters to ISIS. Sometimes ISIS forces them to do this. The Yazidis—ISIS says these people believe in Satan. And because of that their women are just traded from man to man in ISIS, sold, raped, abandoned.”

“Schools were closed down. ISIS’s imams dominated the mosques. Many children were sent off to ISIS’s religious institutions, where they were taught the most fanatical form of the faith, and then to military camps, the R.B.S.S. activists said.”

“In their recruiting, ISIS targets the local youth, according to members of R.B.S.S. With schools closed down, kids play aimlessly in the street. ISIS members befriend them, give them gifts, sometimes candy, sometimes a mobile phone. They ask the kids to join ISIS, one R.B.S.S. member said. They kidnap these children. They are sent to a mosque for education, so they are brainwashed with an extremist form of Islam. After this, they are sent to army camp to teach them how to fight, how to make and carry bombs. At their graduation, they have orders to execute someone––sometimes a beheading, sometimes they just cut off the head of a sheep.”

ISIS Online-Publications1

‘There is no easy way to check every assertion made by R.B.S.S., but the accounts of extreme cruelty that they provided consistently square with the reporting done by such journalists as Rukmini Callimachi and Azadeh Moaveni, in the Times, Ben Taub in The New Yorker, and many others who have extensively interviewed ISIS members and victims.”

“The most powerful instrument of indoctrination for ISIS is the Internet. ISIS glorifies both the sanctity of its moral, historical, and political goals and its acts of vengeance against all whom it brands infidels. “If you Googled ‘Raqqa’ in those early days you got their material first and only,” one of the R.B.S.S. members told me. “So that was one reason why a lot of foreign fighters emigrated. And this is why we began.”

Arab conflict painting

“In mid-April, 2014, just a month after the first crucifixions in the city, a group of six like-minded young people started to talk to each other on Facebook. The group expanded only a little before ISIS discovered it. Within two or three weeks a local imam declared that anyone who worked with R.B.S.S. would be tracked down and executed.

“Undaunted, R.B.S.S. activists posted on social-media sites photographs and reports of daily life in Raqqa; the whole idea was to fight ISIS propaganda on the digital battlefield.”

“In May, 2014, R.B.S.S. suffered its first casualty. One of the men at the bar told me: “One of our reporters was stopped at a checkpoint and his equipment was confiscated and searched.” He was held for three weeks, then executed in a public square in Raqqa.”


“We didn’t think they would execute us. All of us had been arrested by the Assad regime more than once during the revolution. But after this execution we met and started to talk that we don’t want to lose anyone more and we started to think about whether we should stop. But in the end we decided that our lives were not more important than the life of our friend who had been killed.”


Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently ·


  1. Excellent post, as always!! Did you ever post Part IV? I haven’t found it. I saw the title but when I looked it said it couldn’t be found … 😦


    • GRAZIE MILLE!!! I hope you are recovering well from the Thanksgiving feasting. And thanks a million for all your support and for this reblog. You may have had difficulties because I changed the date of 11/27 to 11/24, so that this blog would be placed before blog 5. The title is: “THE IDEOLOGY OF ISIS, PART IV/ PRESIDENT OBAMA’S STATEGY AGAINST ISIS.”

      Liked by 1 person

        • YES! I just finished shopping for everyone this Black Friday weekend. I was going to be lazy and not decorate so much until my family in Chicago just said they are coming for a visit. Meanwhile I am trying to sneak in a NYC weekend trip. I hope it will not be snowing in NYC before Christmas. How about yourself?


        • I am spending the holidays abroad, getting reacquainted with family I’ve not visited in 2 years. Be away until the new year.


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