There is nothing holy about rape or forcing women to marry ISIS fighters or selling girls on a slave mart. The more educated the woman, the more she is subject to having her head chopped off like a loaf of bread by a flipped-out Jihadist.
At least 9,343 civilians have been killed in Iraq from January to September, with 5,500 people, more than half of them, since ISIS began its rampage in June, according to a 29-page report by the U.N.'s Iraq mission and its Geneva-based Human Rights Commission.
These include attacks directly targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, executions and other targeted killings of civilians, abductions, rape and other forms of sexual and physical violence perpetrated against women and children, forced recruitment of children, destruction or desecration of places of religious or cultural significance, wanton destruction and looting of property, and denial of fundamental freedoms.
Of course one could argue that the Syrian government left the door open for ISIS and the US war in Iraq resulted in anti-Sunni suppression by government leaders out for revenge. But.....
"The array of violations and abuses perpetrated by ISIL and associated armed groups is staggering, and many of their acts may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity," said the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein of Jordan.
The chief victims are the minority Yazidis, a Kurdish ethno-religious group in northern Iraq. They are slaughtered en masse if they are not able to flee their homes. Christians do not fare much better.
Physical and sexual violence against women and children are common. The children are used as soldiers while the women are sold as sex slaves to inspire recruits.
Slave auctions and booty
ISIS even opened an office in Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, as a slave market to auction off abducted women.
Women and girls are brought with price tags for the buyers to choose and negotiate the sale. The buyers were said to be mostly youth from the local communities. Apparently, ISIL was 'selling' these [Yezidi] women to the youth as a means of inducing them to join their ranks.
According to Yezidi community leaders, ISIL had forced some women to convert and were marrying them to ISIL fighters. Those who refused were used as concubines or war booty (malak yamiin) or sold on the auction block.
For example, in early August, militants "herded" 450 to 500 women into the town of Tal Afar and later sent about 150 of them to Syria, where the Islamic State has a stronghold, to be given as a reward to fighters or to be sold as sex slaves, the report said.
Educated women are a particular target. The lawyer, Sameera Salih Ali al-Nuaimy, was seized from her home by Islamic State fighters and tortured for several days before a masked firing squad executed her in public, Zeid reported. Others have their throats cut.
Books are Cheaper than Bombs
As columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote: "They know that illiteracy, ignorance and oppression of women create the petri dish in which extremism can flourish."
Not always. The young men are not just graduates of the infamous madrassas, some of which are in Syria, Pakistan, and Nigeria and teach a narrow version of the Koran and not much else. (No art, music, history, sports, for example).
Instead they have a romantic idea of fighting for a heavenly justice in a Jihadist group that even Al Qaeda thinks is too radical.
Some teenage girls are recruited on the Internet to marry Jihadists in Iraq or Syria. Yet the ISIS leaders often are university graduates, some even with doctorate degrees. (For background on Al Qaeda leaders, see Robert Fowler's book, A Season in Hell; HarperCollins Publishers Limited; about his captivity in Niger and Mali).
Religion as an Excuse to Rape
Rape in wartime or other times is not new. (See Susan Brownmiller's groundbreaking 1975 book, Against our Will: Men, Woman and Rape, Simon and Shuster.)
But it is rare in modern times that religion is used as an excuse for carnal assault.
Still, the lack of educational opportunities around the world, where 58 million children are not in school and 10 million child brides are married off each year, contribute to the appeal of radicals.
Gordon Brown, the former British prime minister and the special U.N. envoy for global education, told reporters of a case in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.
The state school was in a dilapidated building with children sitting on the floor, no proper equipment and no computers. In comparison, the madrasses, often financed by Saudi Arabian sects, had excellent facilities.
"If we do not provide the investment that is necessary...then it is clear there are terrorist groups that would provide it," he said. "The financiers of extremism have invested heavily in fundamentalist indoctrination. They have built Wahhabi madrassas in poor Muslim countries like Pakistan, Niger and Mali, offering free meals, as well as scholarships for the best students to study in the Gulf."
It is hard to oppose judicious airstrikes in the short-term. But helping refugees, particularly the three million Syrians in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, get proper schooling is vital. Otherwise the bombs will reign for decades.
And what is the name of this Islamic State in... wherever? I like the one U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon chose: The "Un-Islamic-Non-State."