BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:05 A.M.) – As the joint forces of the international coalition close in on so called Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIS, ISIL) in Iraq and Syria, Russian citizen Yury Balakshin tells the story of his escape from the notorious terrorist organisation in Saratov, Wednesday.
Balakshin turned to Islam whilst suffering from severe headaches and gaining little relief from medicine, finding in the religion a release from his pain and guidance in life.
As the Syrian conflict started to grow more and more, Balakshin decided to follow an imam’s advice and move to Syria to join ISIS, as he was promised the better life alongside brothers in faith.
His hopes for a better life were shattered when he at the border when he was stripped of his passport and ordered to take a job as guard of the ammunition warehouse.
As the former IS militant explained: “As soon as I got there, they took away my documents and communication devices. So even if a man wanted to [escape], it was hard to get out. So the attitude was different already from what I was told to expect. The attitude towards us was more like orders.”
His life took another turn when coalition air strikes hit the ammunition warehouse he was working at. As a result he lost his leg. Balakshin explained how he was offered to “conduct suicide bombing”. At this point he decided to escape.
As soon as he reached Russia, the repentant man went to the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) to confess his acts during his life in Syria. He spent three months in custody during the investigation, but was later released as there were no evidence he has ever took part in IS atrocities.
Balakshin said of IS militia: “They lie to people for the sake of personal interests. They try to show one thing, but in reality it is the opposite. Everything that they show, when they say – come and live here [is a lie]. In reality those who come are being used in IS personal interests.”