And These Guys Are Risking Their Lives To Document It
Filmed in secret and at a huge risk by a Syrian woman who hid a camera behind her niqab, the footage shows armed men patrolling the city, a woman carrying an AK-47 into a playground, and an internet café where foreign women who traveled to the caliphate phone their relatives back in France, saying they love it there.
The video, like VICE News' The Islamic State before it, once again brought the attention of the world to Raqqa, a city where life under the Islamic State is as inscrutable to outsiders as it is terrifying — a reminder of the caliphate's brutality as much as of its bureaucratic efficiency.
"We were activists against the Assad regime when we started, but after our city was freed, and ISIS took over our freedom, we just decided to launch this campaign to expose all the crimes that ISIS do."
"Raqqa is being slaughtered silently" is both the group's name and the reason for its existence — to make sure the world hears and sees what's going on in the city, which now lives between the violence of its conquerors and the air strikes of the US and its allies.
VICE News caught up with 22-year-old Abu Ibrahim Raqqawi, a member of the group who in the last four years went from medical student, to activist against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, to a chronicler of the fate of his city under the Islamic State, which he documented one crucifixion at the time until he was forced to flee just two weeks ago.
With him, VICE News spoke about this latest video filmed by a woman with no connection to his group, life in Raqqa — especially for women, divides between Arab and foreign members of ISIS, and local support and criticism for US air strikes.