Thomas is back from the hell of Daesh

Nineveh, July 2017- Thomas Abdullah Hamo rescued from debris of a Mosul house and receiving first aid. Afshin Ismaeli.

By Karwan haji in Nineveh

The militants of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq ISIS called Daesh in Arabic separate him from his parents, they teach him how to hold a gun and put him at the lead in the battlefields and finally leave him face his destiny under debris of a building in Mosul following an airstrike.

Thomas Abdullah Hamo never wished for such a day yet his fate turns him from a little boy into a forcible militant witnessing one of the atrocities of the 21st century.

In August 2014 when Daesh take over Shingal, home to the ethno-religious Ezidi minority accused by the extremist militants of being heretics and devil worshippers, Thomas, only 9, was with his family: parents, six sisters, 2 brothers, sister-in-law and her kids.

All the family members with a number of cousins are captured by IS militants. "In the beginning we were treated as slaves yet later they turned me into a militant though I didn't want that yet I had no chance to escape," Thomas, now 15, told KirkukNow.

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Nineveh, July 2017- Thomas was very fragile when rescued as he had no food or drink for days. Afshin Ismaeli.

Daesh keeps Thomas for three years during which he is pushed toward death yet he survives to reunite with his family.

"In Raqqa, they trained us how to use a gun. I took several courses for pistols, Kalashnikov, BKC and even RPG."

Thomas was pushed so hard into Daesh atmosphere that he is forced to speak Arabic all the time making him forget his mother tongue, Kurmanji Kurdish.

"In Raqqa, they trained us how to use a gun. I took several courses for pistols, Kalashnikov, BKC and even RPG."

Abdullah Hamo, father of Thomas, says the day they were captured they were not alone. 10 people were in one truck. He sends part of his family in by the truck out of town toward Shingal Mount.

"Later, me, Thomas's mother, a son and two daughters were forced to flee the town walking as there was no space in the truck," Hamo said.

Thomas ranks the seventh among his brothers and sisters.

"We have heard they left town and made it to the mountain. The day later they have heard there was a path leading to Kurdistan region so up to Sinuny we heard about them yet they fell into the hands of Daesh,"

Back in 2014, Daesh besieged the mountain forcing people to go to Syrian and then back to Kurdistan region.

11 am, on August 4th, 2014, a number of foreign Daesh militants stop Thomas and his family yet fortunately they leave them to go but not for too long as they fell into an ambush by Deash Iraqi militants who capture them.

“They separated us. They took me to Shingal office of Kurdistan Democratic Party, KDP, but because of air strikes, they sent me to Talafar and from there to Mosul. Later to Riqqa and again was sent back to Badosh then Mosul again,” Thomas tells.

Shingal, located 120 km west of Mosul, center of Nineveh province, used to be home to over tens of thousands of the adherents of Ezidi ethno-religious minority and one of the disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil. Ezidis also live in Shekhan, Bashiqa and other areas in Duhok Northern Province.

Seized in August 2014 by ISIS militants whom accused the Ezidis of being “devil worshippers,” Shingal has been the scene of tragedy: a genocidal campaign of killings, rape, abductions and enslavement, and the surviving community fled to safer-heaven IDP camps in the adjacent northern Kurdistan region.

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Duhok, 2017- Thomas with his parents in an IDP camp few days following reuniting with family. Afshin Ismaeli.

Thomas went through one year of half of Daesh education. “Later they trained me and gave me a gun. The first battle was in Mosul. I was at the front lines.”

The poor boy has to go through all the scenes of murder, violence and atrocities by Daesh extremist militants. “I witnessed murder and beheadings. At the end it has become something ordinary for me but I never killed anyone,” Thomas narrates.

Thomas fights against Syria Democratic Forces SDF in Syria and Iraqi forces in Nineveh province as a human shield at the forefronts.

We had no idea if he was alive or dead till a Daesh survivor told us Thomas is alive.

“We had no idea if he was alive or dead till a Daesh survivor told us Thomas is alive. He told us he saw Thomas kept by a Daesh militant taken to battlefield and used as a shield,” Hamo said.

With the help of some well-known figures who mediated and paid ransoms, Hamo reunites with all his family members kidnapped by Daesh except Thomas and a sister of him.

On the other side, Thomas keeps thinking about his family but never days to inquire about their destiny in fear of further punishment by the extremist Jihadists.

Out of half million population, over 350,000 Ezidis fled their towns to Kurdistan region and Shingal Mount. About 100,000 migrated to Europe, USA, Canada and Australia and over 100,000 are yet living in tens of camps for Internally Displaced Persons IDP in the adjacent Kurdish region.

In August 2014, Daesh took over Shingal and took 6417 Ezidis as captives and sex slaves, mainly women and children. Up today, 2781 of them are missing and brought to unknown destiny, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s KRG office for rescue of the abducted Ezidis.

IS reportedly used the women and girls as sex slaves while the boys were brainwashed and trained to hold guns and forced to fight beside the local and foreign militants in Iraq and Syria.

Tens of thousands of Ezidis are still living in Internally Displaced Person IDP camps in Iraqi northern province of Duhok.

Time runs and Iraqi forces plan to launch an operation to oust ISIS from their last stronghold in Mosul backed by coalition air strikes. Thomas spends three difficult years and now is 12.

In a baking day of July 2017, Thomas was in Mosul with a group of militants fighting the Iraqi troops downtown in Mosul.

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Duhok 2018- Thomas was strong enough to recover form his physical and psychological injuries, playing in Kabartw IDP camp. Afshin Ismaeli.

“I was in a building, slightly wounded so they have taken me into an evacuated house. We stayed there couple of days without food and water and no escape. We were so thirsty forced to drink our urine.”

Warplanes strike the house and the militants runs yet poor Thomas is entrapped, left to leave his destiny by himself.

“I was under debris for hours till a captured Amir of Daesh leads the Americans to my place. They took me out and sent me to an American hospital in Hamam Alil.”

Both of his legs were broken with couple of bruises on his face. Once he is awake, he was questioned by Iraqi forces. “I told them I am Ezidi so an officer asked me about my father and disappeared.”

We stayed there couple of days without food and water and no escape. We were so thirsty forced to drink our urine.

The Iraqi forces contact Mosul police and Ezidis in the security thus they find Hamo. Then the family of Thomas were living in Kabartw camp for Ezidi IDPs.

“It was the most thrilling news I’ve ever heard when they told me about place of my son. I immediately headed there with his mother. We were deeply saddened by seeing him. He was only skin and bones as he spent day hungry and thirsty before rescuing him.”

Hamo signs a commitment letter and takes his injured son to a hospital in Duhok.

“I have spent over $15,000 for the hospitalization of my son and no one gave me a hand.” The war-torn family still awaits a missing girl, one of thousands brought to unknown destiny.

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Duhok 2018- Thomas holds a portrait of his missing sister enslaved by Daesh in 2014.

Thomas undergoes three surgeries and receives treatment for three months. Later he joins a religious education school in order to be back to ordinary class education.

“When I came back, I was speaking Arabic only yet in four months, I can speak Kurdish again.”

Beside physical therapy, Thomas takes psychological therapy as well. “In the beginning, he was talking about Daesh all the time: what he has seen, done and told to do but thank God now he is older and does not mention them,” Hamo said.

The Iraqi forces cooperated in releasing Thomas because he was an Ezidi boy forced to join Daesh and faced no charges.

Hamo decides to take his family back to Shingal last September and put an end to life under tents in IDP camps.

“Up to the present, he is in an unstable mood. Sometimes he gets hysterically angry and calms down. We urge him to involve in ordinary life wit his friends.”

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