“[The actual smugglers] are people who have contacts in ISIS territory from a long time ago, from before the conflict. Most of them were working as smugglers before—maybe they were smuggling tea or cigarettes. And this is why they know people who are in Syria or in other ISIS-held territory.
And they’re Arabs. They’re people who are not going to raise any sort of suspicion. They are living under ISIS, from the exterior they seem like they support ISIS, but you know, they’re helping free these people for a huge price. So it’s really the people who are inside ISIS territory that are doing the heavy lifting.”
“I spoke to a couple smugglers who are on the government payroll, who basically said that anything goes in this situation. They might be receiving money from the Kurdish government, and then, they made a point which I think was interesting that, when a Yezidi is kidnapped, it’s not about ransom.
They are not going to get the same amount of money that they’re going to get from a Western hostage. And particularly with the women, these women are taken as war treasure, they are taken for men—they’re given as gifts to fighters. So they don’t want to give them away. So, as far as the Yezidi smuggler told me, you’re not even allowed to pay ransom for a woman. You can buy her if you’re in ISIS, you can bid on her. So that’s what he does. He pretends to be a member of ISIS and bids on a woman.”
Listen to the full interview at BBC World Service.