Thousands of dead ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s followers are “living in limbo” at a prison camp in Syria and have formed their “own caliphate,” Fox News reported Tuesday.
The 71,000 prisoners have started “their own mini-caliphate camp,” Kurdish guards told Fox News, and the camp is largely made up of family members of Islamic State fighters. Following al-Baghdadi’s death Saturday evening amid a U.S. military raid at a compound in northern Syria, it is unsure what will become of the prisoners, as their home countries do not want them back, “Fox News Reporting” host Bill Hammer said Tuesday.
“We had the fall of the caliphate back in March, and the sense that ISIS was really on the losing ground,” Fox News foreign affairs correspondent Benjamin Hall said while on the ground in Syria after attempting to interview the prisoners. “What we saw is that the ideology is stronger than ever, that these people in these camps – tens of thousands of them – are a ticking time bomb. That they are waiting to escape and no one has any plans on what to do with them.”
The people at the camp are “fervent believers,” and the prisoners have “recreated” the caliphate that they left, Hall said. He talked about the police that essentially run the camp, noting that breaking the laws of the caliphate often results in death.
“They have mutilated some people, they have cut them up. They’ve even found the body of a one-year-old baby beaten to death, though they can’t explain why or even what goes on in the heads of these terrorists,” he continued.
Kurdish authorities are lacking numbers and do not have control of what goes on inside the camp, Hall reported. Because of this, the authorities simply control the outside of the camp, allowing the inside to be “the Wild West.”
ISIS sleeper cells have even managed to slip into the camps at night, smuggling in guns, grenades, ISIS flags and money. Hall took Fox News on a tour of an outside portion of the camp, reporting that those inside were throwing rocks at him and calling him a liar. The ISIS followers refused to speak to him, he reported.
“It really is a country unto itself,” Hall said.