The massive IDP camp at Al-Hol in Syria is a threat to the region as radicalization occurs and ISIS members increasingly use it to organize. There are reports of abuses and that ISIS religious “police” (“Hisba”) have reorganized themselves to harass other members, or those considered outside the group. The US has warned that resources are lacking and that although there is external security, that there are many challenges within the camp.
The camp currently is organized around almost ten phases and annexes. But it’s not clear how much the most vulnerable can receive support, while extremists are being monitored and kept from harming others.
It has now been six months since the fall of Baghouz, the last ISIS pocket, and the evacuation of tens of thousands of women and children to Al-Hol. Initially shocked, they are now becoming an aggressive threat.
I have proposed major changes at the camp.
On September 15 I wrote “The camp should be divided into several new areas, one for hard core ISIS supporters and foreign ISIS supporters to be monitored ; and one for non-ISIS supporters and then two for the vulnerable and those in between. Give them space rather than radicalization hot house.”
On September 22 I wrote again: “Well as I’ve suggested in the past the camp should be broken up and most serious supporters should be detained in one area and others provided new housing, so that the worst ISIS supporters are not enabled to continue to harass and radicalize others. I don’t understand how there are 80+ partners in the Coalition, and yet when it comes to “winning the peace”, all of them seem to throw up their arms and say “the camp is not our problem”, the wealthiest countries in the world can do more here. It’s shameful.”
It’s time to recognize the problem and not just pretend that the SDF has the resources to do everything while the international Coalition focuses on the narrowly tailored anti-ISIS campaign, or the “security mechanism” with Turkey.
The US says there 45,000 “ISIS supporters” reside at the al-Hol.
At the After ISIS website I’ve been covering this for some time, but now it’s time to take it seriously.