Beirut, Lebanon — An Islamic State militant executed his own mother in front of a post office in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa this week, Syrian activists said on Friday, with one monitoring organization adding that the problems began when she tried to persuade him to leave the extremist group.
The fighter, Ali Saqr, 21, killed his mother in front of several hundred people for what the Islamic State called apostasy, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, two groups that monitor the conflict through contacts on the ground.
The act was the latest in a chain of brutal and bizarre killings that the Islamic State uses, and often widely publicizes, in efforts to tamp down dissent and to attract recruits.
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It would not be the first time that a member of the Islamic State has killed a parent on the group’s orders. Last year, a Lebanese father traveled to Raqqa to try to bring back his son, an Islamic State fighter, and three other children whom the son had persuaded to go there. The son reported the father, who was detained and killed, according to interviews with family members.
The events in Raqqa followed a similar trajectory, according to the Syrian Observatory. It said that the mother, whom it identified as Lena al-Qasem, had urged her son to leave the group and flee Raqqa, its de facto capital, and that he reported her comments to the Islamic State.
Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently said on Friday that her request was not the reason she was killed. But both monitoring groups say the Islamic State had declared the mother guilty of apostasy and had ordered her death.
The fighter was apparently a Syrian from the area; his mother lived in the nearby town of Tabaqa and worked in Raqqa, according to the monitoring groups.
The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, split from other insurgent groups in 2013. Last year, it took over large parts of Iraq and Syria and declared a so-called caliphate to impose a harsh interpretation of Islam.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the Islamic State has ordered the killing of more than 2,000 people. The Islamic State has a wide-ranging definition of capital crimes, including homosexuality, adultery and “betraying Muslims.”