2018 Primetime Emmy
& James Beard Award Winner

R&K Insider: Living with ISIS

This week on Roads & Kingdoms, we published a gripping tale of a Chechen woman who was tricked by her husband into leaving their home in Kazakhstan to move to Syria.

This post originally appeared on May 25, 2018, in Anup Kaphle’s weekly newsletter. Read the archives and subscribe to the newsletter.


Good morning, dear readers.

This week, we published a new longform story in our Dispatched by Bourdain series—a gripping tale of a woman who followed her husband from a tiny town in Kazakhstan to live with ISIS in Syria and Iraq, until she finally managed to flee last year. The woman, 25-year old Iman Muzaeva, was among the several dozen women and children who were rescued by the Russian government from the Iraqi city of Erbil in the fall of 2017.

As ISIS was gaining momentum in the summer of 2014, young men from across the Middle East and Europe were flocking into Syria to join the militant group. According to Russian officials, more than 3,500 Russian citizens had gone to fight for ISIS in Syria and Iraq. No one could say exactly how many of them were Chechen, but some analysts estimated that 400 to 500 men left directly from Chechnya to fight for ISIS. Here is how Suleiman, Muzaeva’s husband, forced her into following him to Raqqa:

“We are going to Syria,” he told her. “The Islamic State is there. We can live according to Sharia, and no one will oppress us. I’ve been told that they will give us a house there, that they pay monthly salaries. We will live a comfortable life.”

It took a while for Suleiman to convince Muzaeva. He told her that the “brothers” were already there and they were content. He pulled out hadiths—teachings of Prophet Muhammad—she had never heard of before to back up his arguments. “It is the duty of every righteous Muslim to live in an Islamic State,” he told her. “To abandon the Islamic State was like abandoning prayer. It is a sin.” Muzaeva was shaking with fear. She had seen war as a child in Chechnya, and she never wanted to live under bombing again.

When Suleiman ran out of arguments, he threatened to take their son and leave her. “I don’t want my son to grow up among debauchery,” he told her. She gave in.

Read the full story by Diana Khachatryan, with images by Yuri Kozyrev.

Also on R&K in case you missed it:

The disco diva of Saigon: A small but growing community is stepping out of the shadows of Vietnam’s past into the twirling lights of a disco ball. Meet Skarlet Tran—a cross-dressing dancer, and their fearless leader.

A Chilean spirit: “It was neither gin nor whisky, and it wasn’t pisco. You could drink it straight, but it was also an excellent mixer. It looked like gin, but its flavor profile was much broader. So Träkál got its own classification.” Read this week’s 5 o’clock here.

A Pho lost in translation: “No one really knows how the name change stuck with Filipinos in Palawan. Chao long in Palawan is not pho at all. It is a close rendition of a Vietnamese pho bo kho, a beef stew with rice flour noodles that is unsettlingly sweet, flavored with lemongrass, and tinted with annatto seeds that give it a lurid orange hue.” Read this week’s breakfast post here.

Enjoy the long weekend. See you all next Friday.

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