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Courageous Survivors: How These 3 Women Beat ISIS


SULIMANIYA, Iraq - In an attempt at Middle East domination, Islamic State terrorists have murdered, raped, and abused thousands of women. Now, some of these courageous survivors want to share their stories with the world.
CBN News Sr. International Correspondent Gary Lane traveled to Iraq to talk with three women who stood up against the barbarity of ISIS.

Each one has struggled to overcome their painful experiences. One is a soldier. Another a young Yazidi, and another is a Syrian refugee.

Women Marching to War

After a summer of terror, ISIS is now on the defensive. Iraqi Kurds say American bombing raids have helped them beat back the advance.

American airstrikes have definitely had a devastating impact on Islamic State fighters. But there is one thing that they fear more than American bombs: female Peshmerga fighters, with guns.

Meet the women of the Second Battalion, a force guarding Iraqi Kurdistan. More than 500 women serve in this unit.

Lt. Col. Nasreen Hamlawa is the battalion's deputy commander.

"These women are the best examples of Peshmerga. They are very brave women," she told CBN News. "When it comes to being a hero, there is no difference between men and women."

She's no stranger to war, fighting for years against Saddam Hussein, and Iran. She convinced family members to join up.

But that came with a fatal cost. Last fall, an ISIS sniper killed Nasreen's 26-year-old daughter, Rangin.

"She was really good, a high example to the girls, very smart and brave. She gave herself as a sacrifice for the sake of Kurdistan," Nasreen said.

Rangin left behind a husband and two children. Tears flowed as Nasreen spoke of her grandchildren growing up without their mother.

"The difficult part is my grandchildren - they miss their mom. Usually when I see them, I cry," Nasreen said.

Her pain appeared to ease as she proudly explained that her daughter gave her life for the homeland.

Nasreen said she is more determined than ever to stop the kidnapping, selling, and sexual abusing of women.

"If anyone should fight against ISIS, it should be the women!" she exclaimed.

A Woman Called 'Shanar'

One 22-year-old Yazidi woman - we'll call her "Shanar" - was one of thousands kidnapped by ISIS militants.

It happened last August as many Yazidis fled to Sinjar Mountain to escape ISIS militants. They captured Shanar and put her with about 100 other Yazidi girls, some as young as 10 years old. 

"They were forcing the girls to convert to Islam and then marry ISIS members," Shanar told CBN News. "They beat our legs, heads, and arms, demanding all of us to serve them or be used as sex slaves."

Shanar said ISIS fighters came to the house and offered the girls money for sex and many of them were sold for as little as $1.

"They were really determined to harm us," she said. "They abused us and took pleasure in it. Most of us wanted to die."

Some of the girls have attempted suicide to escape the abuse. An alarming number have succeeded.

Last November, Shanar secretly contacted an uncle who helped rescue her, her young sister, and five other girls. Freedom, however, did not bring joy.

"I didn't rejoice because even when I was rescued and was over the border inside Turkey, I realized that 27 of my family members were missing," she said.

While she said life is difficult without them, Shanar said she's glad she at least helped some of the girls escape ISIS.

"I helped them a lot and I am very happy that I could help return the girls and my sister who were with me," she said.

Meet 'Hanifa'

"Hanifa" escaped Syria after fighting between the Syrian government and the Islamic State destroyed her home.

Once there, she landed a job with a Christian organization and started reading the Bible.

"I learned a lot about Jesus," she recalled. "He's not just a normal human; He's God. He cleansed me of my sins. I was dead and now I have a new life."

A miraculous healing caused Hanifa to leave Sunni Islam. 

Doctors had scheduled surgery to remove a life-threatening tumor so she prayed the operation would be unnecessary.

She said her doctor was surprised moments before the surgery  when he discovered the tumor had miraculously disappeared.

"The doctor kept saying, 'It's impossible, it's impossible! Where's your tumor? What have you done?'" she recalled.

"I told him I just prayed to God. He said, 'You are okay. That's impossible!' But I didn't care what he thought because I knew God had healed me!" Hanifa told CBN News.

As a Christian, Hanifa's life is in jeopardy because she is considered an apostate.

"It is dangerous for me, but Jesus is with me. He is God. He saved me, so he'll keep me safe. I am not afraid," she said.

Today, she organizes clothing and other items to distribute to those in need.

As ISIS seeks to eradicate Christianity, Hanifa is trying to increase Christian numbers by sharing her testimony. She said she has a special burden for refugees from Kobani.

"I tell them my story. I want the Kobani people to know Jesus," she said.

Hanifa, Shanar, and Nasreen -- three courageous women overcoming  ISIS with guns, determination, and God's word.

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