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The Secret, Hypocritical Gay World of ISIS: Jihadi 'Tough Guys' Hide Homosexuality

A man believed to be Abu Zaid al-Jazrawi. (Handout)
A man believed to be Abu Zaid al-Jazrawi. (Handout)

By Tim Teeman
ISIS murdered a 15-year-old accused of being gay but spared the life of his ‘rapist,’ a senior jihadi commander. What lies behind the brutal double standard?

The murder of a 15-year-old teenager, thrown to his death by ISIS for being gay, not only reveals—yet again—the terror group’s murderous homophobia, but also the hypocrisy that exists alongside it.
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A senior commander of the so-called Islamic State, named in reports as Abu Zaid al-Jazrawi, was having some kind of relationship with this as-yet-nameless 15-year-old, but the more senior man was not killed.

Instead, al-Jazrawi was reportedly flogged, and forced to leave Syria and join the fighting fronts in northwestern Iraq.
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The boy, killed in Deir ez-Zor, Syria’s seventh-largest city, is not the first to be murdered in such a manner: the images of men, accused and suspected of being gay, being thrown to their deaths from tall buildings has become brutally familiar.

On Tuesday, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory For Human Rights, told The Independent that at least 25 people have been killed by ISIS for being gay: six stoned, three shot in the head, and 16 thrown from high-rise buildings.

Of the 15-year-old’s killing, “The horrific execution took place in front of a large crowd,” a local media activist and an eyewitness told Syrian news agency ARA News.

“The boy was accused of being engaged in a homosexual relation with the prominent ISIS officer Abu Zaid al-Jazrawi,” media activist Sarai al-Din told the agency.

The Sharia Court in Deir ez-Zor reportedly said that Abu Zaid should, like the boy, die for being gay, but ISIS commanders demanded he be sent to fight in Iraq instead.

Subhi Nahas, a gay Syrian who escaped the country fearing for his life, and who in a history-making speech addressed the United Nations last year about LGBT persecution in Syria, told The Daily Beast that there were possible cultural reasons behind the murder of one young man and the reprieve of his older sexual partner, described as the teen’s “rapist” in some reports.

“A tradition in which adult males engaged in sexual pleasure with pre-pubescent boys--ghelman--including hermaphroditic boys, has existed before the creation of Islam," Nahas said. "Because these encounters didn't result in pregnancies, they became more commonplace after Islam had taken root."

The descriptions of the 15-year-old’s relationship with the commander are contradictory: It has been variously described as a “sexual relation” and “rape.” How consensual or coercive the relationship was is unclear, as is the nature of the relationship between the older and younger man.
“Culturally, post the formation of Islam, people related homosexuality to pedophilia,” said Nahas, now an activist with the Organization For Refuge, Asylum & Migration (ORAM). “No distinction is drawn between the two. If somebody raped a boy they called him a homosexual, not a pedophile. Maybe this commander had a kind of waiver given to him by his peers. They think, ‘He does great things for people. We cannot kill him, but we need a scapegoat, the boy.’

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