Who Is ISIS Human Trafficking Survivor Nadia Murad? Amal Clooney's Client's Harrowing Story
Nadia Murad is only 23, but she’s already been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and was named a UN Goodwill Ambassador on Friday.
Her journey, however, has been traumatic: in 2014, Murad was taken by ISIS for human trafficking, while her mother and brothers were executed. Now, with the help of her lawyer Amal Clooney, she’s speaking out about the plight of the Yazidi people, a group native to Northern Iraq.
In August 2014, Murad was living with her family in northern Iraq as a student and aspiring history teacher when ISIS fighters entered their town, separating the men from the women, she told Time last year.
A U.N. spokesperson told Time that 312 men were murdered within an hour, including six of Murad’s brothers and stepbrothers. Later, her mother was among 60 other women murdered by the militants. Following the massacre, Murad and the other gathered young women were taken to be distributed to ISIS fighters for enslavement.
The Yazidi do not practice Islam, but rather, a combination of several belief systems. This has made them a target for ISIS.
After being selected by a fighter, Murad was kept in a room, where she was beaten and raped by numerous men until she was “unconscious,” she told Time.
Murad finally escaped after a month in captivity, running to safety after the house was left unlocked. After being moved to a refugee camp, she was chosen for a program that relocated her to Germany.
Still, Murad told Time in August, “more than 6,500 women and children were taken into captivity, about 1,200 children boys were taken to be trained to be future jihadists”
“From the total captives about 2,648 have managed to escape, more than 3,500 remain in captivity,” she continued. “Our estimate is that hundreds have committed suicide, or been killed by airstrikes.”
In December 2015, Murad spoke before the U.N. Security Council for the first time, with help from the Yazda organization.
“My message received some attraction from the international community and the media,” Murad said of testifying. “Since that date, I have been on an international campaign to raise awareness about the Yazidi genocide, the plight of Yazidi women and girls, and speaking against ISIS, a group that continue to threaten the entire world.”
On Saturday, Clooney slammed the world response to what she called the genocide of the Yazidi people while introducing Murad ahead of her speech at the UN in New York City.
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She warned the assembly to “make no mistake” that ISIS is committing genocide against the Yazidis, further explaining how the terrorist group has systematically established a “bureaucracy of evil” to accomplish their ends.
“I wish I could say that I was proud to be here. But I am not,” Clooney asserted, “I am ashamed, as a supporter of the UN, that states are failing to prevent or even punish genocide, because they find that their own interests get in the way. I am ashamed, as a lawyer, that there is no justice being done and barely a complaint being made about it. I am ashamed, as a woman, that girls like Nadia can have their bodies sold and used as battlefields. I am ashamed as a human being that we ignore their cries for help.”
Speaking further about Murad in an interview that aired on Today, Clooney revealed that her client has been subject to “very specific threats” from ISIS, saying “we will get you back.”
“She made me make the decision [to take her as a client] because I met her and I just thought, I can’t walk away from this,” Clooney said.
On Monday, Murad and Clooney will further speak about ISIS during a ministerial side event at the UN.
On her website, Murad’s goals remain clear: “I am committed to leading a campaign to prompt peace through de-radicalization. I will focus my power to deliver a message to the Muslim world to condemn extremism, particularly against children and women, carried out in the name of Islam.”
“We must work together to counter terrorism and deter the youth from joining or supporting radical groups and united to teach all youth the importance of tolerance towards the beliefs of others.”