It seems like the first to have the ISIS name is being published without it being followed by horrific word of new undertakings. Instead, this time, there is the slightest sliver of hope: this Sunday, ISIS released 19 of their Christian prisoners, according to a London-based human rights group focused on the area.
For ISIS, a terrorist group infamous for extremely brutal and inhuman killing tactics, the stroke of mercy upon these prisoners seems incredibly uncharacteristic. Yet in Syria, 16 men and 3 women made it out of ISIS captivity alive and unharmed. The release came due to the fact that the decision did not come from the core of the militant leadership. Instead according to CNN, the move was derived from an ISIS Sharia judge order. Sharia law is a code of law and Islamic legal system. The law is followed closely and conservatively by ISIS. While that idea is typically the downfall of anyone that comes in contact with Islamic State militants, it may have the saving grace of these 16 Christian men and 3 women. The court judge ordered the hostages be released on the grounds that they did nothing to disobey the Islamic body of law, according to CNN reports. Interestingly enough, there is actually a small clause in the Sharia Law that looks to specific protect Christians, seemingly a natural enemy for the hardcore Islamic group.
All but one of the freed are from a mass capture of 220 Assyrians (which included entire families) in a Northern Syrian province known as al-Hasakah back on February 23. The area is under control of the terrorist group and has been forced to recognize them as authority figures. The release of 10 more captives has been ordered but they have get to be released. Especially as the political motivation for this first release remains unclear to officials, the fate of the remaining hostages is still unknown.
Many fear a growing trend looking at the larger picture. Religious minority groups are growing more and more fearful as attacks become more specific based upon ethnicity—a small twist away from the typical Muslim victim for ISIS. Disregarding any law, just last week it was reported that 21 Egyptian Christians were beheaded in Libya by those associated with the group. True to the barbaric standard, a video captured the mass murdering. The five minute video included the beheading of the prisoners (instead of fading to a black screen) and made a direct reference to the Christian group in the area.
Human rights activists based out of Europe will continue trying to negotiate for a peaceful exchange of the remaining Christian hostages before more of unspeakable happens. In the meantime, Iraqi forces are continuing to push against the terrorist group. The army there has teamed up with Shiite militia, according to NBC. With any luck, the Iraqi army can recapture bits and pieces of their own country back as it moves to the ISIS headquarters state of Syria.