In Nebraska, 33-year-old Shireen Jardho Alhanto starts her life over as a Yazidi survivor. Lincoln, Nebraska is home to the largest U.S. Yazidi community, but even in a new country with a fresh start, Shireen Alhanto has arrives with many missing pieces.
Alhanto has already lost much of her family to ISIS terror. According to the account Shireen shared with KETV Newswatch 7’s Michelle Bandur, ISIS captured 47 of her family members on August 3, 2014. Seventeen members of her family are still missing and Shireen has had to share a grim detail of her life with ISIS to help her family find their way back to each other:
“I told my family members I have my name tattooed on my hand, so you guys will know who I am,” she said.
Along with making a new life in a country where she doesn’t know the people, the language, or the culture — Shireen also has to deal with the life-long trauma of existence under ISIS. Alhanto tells Bandur that ISIS sold and traded her to other militants in Turkey and Syria, adding:
“After they beat me and electrocuted me, I didn’t talk…They killed thousands of our men and the ladies, thousands of them, committed suicide just to get away from ISIS. They would rather be dead than to be in their hands.”
Bandur shares that “The abuse [was] so horrific, even ISIS didn’t want her anymore…When she arrived at a refugee camp, she couldn’t walk,” adding further, “ISIS doctors operated on her [Alhanto] without her permission, even removing some of her reproductive organs.”
Alhanto has since found three siblings living in Canada, and four brothers in Iraq. Lutheran Family Services helped Alhanto settle in Nebraska and is working to help reconnect Alhanto with her family. Shireen’s is now trying to learn English so she can tell her story in her own words.