Islamic State fighters captured, enslaved and sold Yazidi women and children, and claim the act is justified in Islam to prevent men from feeling "tempted" by other, non-enslaved women, according to a piece in the group's full-colour magazine.
The magazine, which is published in English and evidently aimed at a Western audience, confirms the long-rumoured atrocities committed by the group in Iraq, where Yazidi women have reported being kidnapped, sold for a few dollars and repeatedly raped.
The latest issue of Dabiq magazine released on Sunday stated, "the enslaved Yazidi families are now sold by the Islamic State soldiers." It added, "the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Sharia amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations."
"Many well-known rulings are observed, including the prohibition of separating a mother from her young children," the piece continued.
Anyone opposing slavery in such circumstances is not a Muslim, the piece says. "Enslaving the families of the kuffār [non-believers] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Sharia that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Qur'an... and thereby apostatizing from Islam."
Abolishing slavery had led to an increase in promiscuity and infidelity, the piece argued, saying: "A man who cannot afford marriage to a free woman finds himself surrounded by temptation towards sin. In addition, many Muslim families who have hired maids to work at their homes, face the fitnah [temptation] of prohibited khalwah [seclusion]... whereas if she were his concubine, this relationship would be legal."
The magazine also contains a letter purportedly written by US journalist Steven Sotloff to his mother before he was brutally executed, saying the emotional video she filmed pleading with IS to save her son was "not enough to save me".
The magazine's front cover is the Islamic State's black flag flying over the Vatican. In one section of the magazine, a statement attributed to Mohammed al-Adnani, the spokesman for the Islamic State group, read: "We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women," addressing those who do not subscribe to its hard-line interpretation of Islam.
A Human Rights Watch report, which came out on Sunday, claimed hundreds of Yazidi men, women and children from Iraq are being held captive in makeshift detention facilities by the group.
The report noted that the group "separated young women and teenage girls from their families and has forced some of them to marry its fighters."
One woman told HRW that she saw Islamic State fighters buying girls, and a teenage girl said a fighter bought her for $1,000, the report said.
Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled into the Sinjar Mountains, many getting stranded there for weeks after the militant onslaught on Sinjar in August, part of the Islamic State group's lightning advance across northern and western Iraq. Hundreds were killed in the attack, and tens of thousands fled for their lives, most to the Kurdish-held parts of northern Iraq.
Iraq's Human Rights Ministry said at the time that hundreds of women were abducted by the militants, who consider the Yazidis, a centuries-old religious minority, a heretical sect. Some also alleged the Islamic State group enslaved and sold Yazidi women and children, though the group itself did not comment on it.
Most of the Yazidis are now displaced in northern Iraq, many having lost loved ones in their flight to safety. Some say that their women and girls were snatched during the militant raid.
Many of the women and girls have told horrific stories of abuse. One 15-year-old Yazidi girl who escaped from the group said she was trafficked across the border to Syria and sold to a man in Raqqa, before escaping to Turkey.
"They took girls to Syria to sell them," she said, her body shyly hunched over as she spoke. "I was sold in Syria. I stayed about five days with my two sisters, then one of my sisters was sold and taken (back) to Mosul, and I remained in Syria."
In Raqqa, she said, she was first married off to a Palestinian man. She claims she shot him, saying the Palestinian's Iraqi housekeeper who was in a dispute with the man helped her by giving her a gun. She fled, but she had nowhere to run. So she went to the only place she knew, she said — the house where she was first held with the other girls in Raqqa.
There, the militants did not recognise her and sold her off again — for $1,000 to a Saudi fighter, she said. The Saudi militant took her to a house where he lived with other fighters. "He told me, 'I'm going to change your name to Abeer, so your mother doesn't recognize you,'" she said. "You'll become Muslim, then I will marry you. But I refused to become a Muslim and that's why I fled."
She said she saw the fighters at time taking a powdered drug. So she poured it into tea she served to the Saudi and the other men, causing them to fall asleep. Then she fled the house.
She found a man who would drive her to Turkey to meet her brother. Her brother then borrowed $2,000 from friends to pay a smuggler to get them both back to Iraq. They ended up in Maqluba, a tiny roadside hamlet just outside the Kurdish city of Dahuk, where several other Yazidi families are staying.
Amsha Ali, a 19-year-old, said she was taken from Sinjar to Mosul. Ali was around six months pregnant at the time. The last she saw of her husband and other men in her family as she was being dragged off was the scene of the militants forcing them to lie on the ground, apparently to shoot them. Ali agreed to be identified, saying she wanted the ordeals of the women to be known.
In Mosul, she said, she and other women were taken to a house full of Islamic State fighters to be married off. "Each of them took one of us for themselves," she said. She too was given to a fighter. She said she was never raped by the man — likely because of her pregnancy, she said — but she witnessed other girls being raped.
After several weeks, she was able to slip out of a bathroom window at night and escape. A Mosul resident who found her in the streets helped her get out of the city to nearby Kurdish territory on Aug. 28, she said. She said she tried to convince other women to flee with her, but they were too afraid. "Because they were so terrified, they are left there and now I know nothing about them," she said.
Now Ali is with her father and a surviving sister living in an unfinished building in the town of Sharia, where some 5,000 Yazidi refugees live, also near Dahuk.
"The killing was not the hardest thing for me," she said of seeing fellow Yazidis slain in the assault on Sinjar. "Even though they forced my husband, brother-in-law and father-in-law on the ground to be murdered — it was painful — but marrying (the militant) was the worst. It was hardest thing for me."