The Story of Malak

The Nazarene Fund reunited 11-year-old Malak with her family after six years of captivity by the Islamic State (ISIS). Malak was discovered by our partners in late January 2020 at the Al Hol refugee camp where she was held hostage by the wife of an ISIS fighter.

Malak was kidnapped with her father, mother, and brother from Sinar, Iraq on the 3rd of August 2014 during ISIS’ invasion of the region. She was imprisoned and moved around ISIS-controlled Iraq for eight months. Later on, Malak’s father was separated from his family never to be seen again. Malak, her brother and their mother were relocated to Al Raqqa, Syria to serve an ISIS fighter.

Along with her mother and brother, Malak was forced to study the Quran and convert to Islam, and they were all treated as domestic slaves and frequently beaten by their captors.

In 2018, ISIS began to lose territory to the advancing Kurdish-led Syrian Defense Force (SDF), and by 2019 the terrorist group was in full retreat. Malak and her family remained in captivity and were moved to the towns of Chaafa and Baghouz, and finally to Hajine. Unfortunately for Malak, an airstrike hit the building they were occupying, killing her mother and brother along with their ISIS captor. Malak miraculously survived, but her hand was severely injured.

The ISIS fighter’s widow then took Malak to the Al Hol camp, which was a rally point for surviving ISIS wives and families. During their stay in the camp, the ISIS wife continued to hold Malak hostage, lying to camp managers about the girl’s identity and continuing to abuse her. Al Hol camp, which became a detention center with a population of over 70,000 inmates awaiting a decision on their legal status, is infamous for the violence committed by its residents. It is believed that many more ISIS captives, both Yazidis and Christians, are still held in the camp against their will.

TNF and its partners located her in late January, and after several weeks of identification and verification, managed to get her released, safely escorting her back to Iraq where she was reunited with her uncle and the rest of her family.