Turkish ministry allows kidnapped girl to return to ISIS family

Turkish ministry allows kidnapped girl to return to ISIS family
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Ministry faces backlash for allowing kidnapped Yazidi girl to stay with ISIS family.

By Hale Gonultas

In an unprecedented legal case in Turkey, an ISIS member has been charged with "international human trafficking" after a Yazidi girl was kidnapped and smuggled into Turkey.

In a controversial move, however, the Ministry of Family and Social Affairs allowed the girl, who had previously been placed in a state dormitory, to be placed in the care of the same ISIS family that abducted her. This decision was revealed during testimony by a social worker who oversaw the girl's care in the dormitory.

The case

The Yazidi child was rescued from an ISIS compound in Ankara in February 2021 following police and intelligence operations. Disturbingly, ISIS operatives had listed the girl for "sale" on the dark web.

Following the raid, three Iraqi citizens - Anas Varda, Nasser Khalaf Rasheed, and Sabah Ali Oruç - were arrested for kidnapping and holding the girl. Although Anas V. and Nasır H.R. were released the same month, Sabah Ali Oruç was imprisoned in Sincan F-type prison. By August 2021, however, all three had been released.

Oruc's testimony provided horrifying details. He revealed that the child had been purchased by his late brother in Iraq for $500 in 2014 when she was about two years old. Oruç maintained his innocence, attributing her acquisition and naming to his late brother.

Infiltrating Turkish borders

According to the indictment, Oruc entered Turkey in 2018 using a forged passport after smuggling his family, including the Yazidi girl, into the country. Brazenly, the Ankara provincial migration office issued the girl an identity card linking her to Oruc's family.

Under financial duress, Oruc put the girl up for sale online in February 2021. He was then arrested in a swift counterterrorism operation by Ankara police. The child was handed over to the Ministry of Family and Social Affairs. Astonishingly, Oruc was released after only four months.

Search for the girl's family and legal proceedings

Efforts to find her family have been unsuccessful, with speculation that her parents were victims of the ISIS Sinjar massacre in 2014. She has been in the care of the Ministry since early 2021.

Following the release of the ISIS members, women lawyers in Ankara collectively filed a lawsuit against them for "crimes against humanity" and "international human trafficking." During the review of the case, the testimony of a social worker revealed the Ministry's disturbing decision to grant custody of the Yazidi girl to the ISIS family upon request.

While accepting the trafficking charge, the prosecutor's office ruled out "crimes against humanity," stating that ISIS members did not show malicious intent such as organ theft or forced labor.

The first hearing of the trial on charges of smuggling the girl into Turkey and unlawfully detaining her is scheduled for tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. at the Ankara 15th High Criminal Court.