Kidnapped by ISIS in May, Most of 186 Kurdish Students Unaccounted For

Escapee Describes Beatings as Parents Worry

At the end of May, ISIS kidnapped 186 Kurdish students on their way to Aleppo for final exams. Nearly a month later, the vast majority of those students are unaccounted for, and presumably still in ISIS custody.

One of the handful who managed to escape describes beatings and intimidation as ISIS tried to coerce them into joining the jihad. ISIS reported shortly after the kidnappings the students were being held for “religious education.”

As ISIS expands further in both Syria and Iraq, they have become more aggressive in trying to recruit Kurds. The escaped student described a very international movement where he was held, with Chechens and Libyans alongside the Syrian fighters.

Many of the parents of the remaining students are simply waiting, with no word coming, as days in ISIS custody turn into weeks, and wondering when, or even if, they will be reunited with their children.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of