Némésis – Part 11

Justice (Dike, on the left) and Divine Vengeance (Nemesis, right) are pursuing the criminal murderer. By Pierre-Paul Prud’hon, 1808 Public Domain

The discoveries of ISIL atrocities described below have all happened and have been recorded by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. “They came to destroy”: ISIS Crimes Against the Yazidis. While the UN Sponsored Groups concentrate on alleged and actual crimes carried out by the Syrians and their affiliated groups, or unbelievably crimes by the Yazidi against captured ISIL fighters, there is scant honest reporting on the atrocities carried out by ISIL.
Approximately 850 people from the UK have travelled to support or fight for jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, say the British authorities.
This BBC News database is the most comprehensive public record of its kind, telling the story of over 100 people from the UK who have been convicted of offences relating to the conflict and over 150 others who have either died or are still in the region. The 850 figure is at best a wild underestimation. A government strategy, codenamed Operation Constrain, will even allow terrorists to jump to the top of council house waiting lists, allowing them to choose the best available homes to live in rent free, elbowing aside families who have been waiting, in many cases, for years.

Ash Shaddadi, the Syrian Governorate of Al Hasakha, December 2017

Ripley was sleeping exhausted in her sleeping bag under the olive trees. She was lying on the ground and she moaned but didn’t wake up as Ellis picked her up and put her on a folding cot. He covered her with a poncho against the wind and went back to the vehicles. Four of the troopers including the Boss and Mr H were still down in the factory, searching every inch of it. The two medics were comparing notes as Cairns checked out the bruise on Roberts’ back. The body armour had done its job but hadn’t prevented blunt trauma.
“It hurts when I breathe in. I reckon I might have a couple of broken ribs.”
“Don’t think so. I would say it’s bruising of the intercostal muscles. Just take some ibuprofen to reduce the swelling and see how it goes.”
Cohen was making links of 5.56mm ammunition for the Minimes, a dull and repetitive, but strangely therapeutic task. He inspected and cleaned particularly greasy rounds before linking them to prevent stoppages. They had slung Para cord between the trees and washing was drying in the breeze. The importance for maintaining personal admin in such a hellhole as this should not be underestimated.
Ellis hovered around the medics, who had started arguing about the difference between the pain of broken ribs and that of bruised intercostal muscles.
“Excuse me, but could I interrupt you two drama queens for a moment?”
You see?” Roberts complained bitterly, “Even James is trivialising my agony. Well don’t come running to me when you get shot.”
“I’m hardly likely to run anywhere if I’ve been shot, am I? Do either of you gentlemen know anything about psychiatric disorders?”
Cairns and Roberts looked at one another.
“I said it would happen,” Roberts said, “Didn’t I tell you it would be James who went first. Too highly strung. Well you’re in luck, Sergeant Ellis, because I have studied mental conditions, particularly those concerned with post-traumatic stress.”
“If you’ve finished having Mengele rub Vic on your chest, could you come and have a chat?”
They walked away from the vehicles and buildings and sat behind a low and dilapidated stone wall. Ellis offered a Roberts a boiled sweet.
“No thanks. I broke a bloody cusp of one of my teeth with one of those damned things. They should be banned. I’m expecting an abscess to flare up at any moment to add to my catalogue of ailments.”
“What do you know about psychopaths, Shippers?”
“Define a psychopath. Now some say there’s a distinction between psychopaths and sociopaths, but they are really one and the same. The term psychopath was first coined around 1900 but it was changed in the 1930s to emphasise the damage that they do to society. Interesting that it was the 1930s, coz there were a lot of them around then. Some people regard sociopathy as being less serious than psychopathy, which they say might have links to genetics. But really there is no distinction between them. Interestingly, there are a lot of very successful people in business, politics and the military, who would appear on the psychopathic spectrum. Why are you asking me this, James?”
Ellis was silent for a while and then he sighed, “Because I’m worried about Ripley. I think she is showing psychopathic tendencies.”
Roberts looked at him wondering whether to laugh, but Ellis’s expression was deadly serious.
“OK, James. You’re obviously genuinely worried, so let’s go through it. Short of dragging her out of bed and asking if she enjoyed killing animals as a child, we’ll go through the markers, a list of criteria drawn up by a guy called Hervey Cleckley in the 1940s and later adapted in the 1960s and later in the 1990s. It’s called the Psychopathic Personality Inventory or PPI for short. And no you can’t get money back from your bank for being a psychopath. As with everything, there’s a health warning. Many psychopaths can operate quite freely in society and not overtly show the signs.”
“How do you know this stuff, Shippers?”
“Because I’m studying to be a registered mental nurse when I leave the Army. I reckon it’s going to be a growth industry. And if I can get the Army to pay for it, so much the better. First of all, psychopaths are uncaring or cold hearted. They show a callous unconcern for other people’s feelings. Psychopaths have weak emotional connections within the brain and they don’t feel emotions like we do. They can’t detect fear or anguish in other people’s faces and they feel little or no disgust at unethical things that would make you or me physically sick. Does that sound like Ripley?”
“She did torture those women this morning,” Ellis said reluctantly.
“No she didn’t. The Yazidi women did it and it was very mild in order to get them to scream. I checked them myself because she asked me to. One had two broken fingers and one has severe bruising on the soles of her feet. I think that after what we found down in that factory, they are all lucky to still be alive. Personally I would have flame-throwered the fucking bitches. She beat the man with a length of camouflage netting pole on the shins and poured a little petrol and water over his head which was covered by a sand bag. She was playing with his mind. Do you remember the SERE course? Being stripped and having a hard-bodied bitch laugh at the size of your cock, because you were freezing cold? I had some bastard put a metal bucket over my head and hit it with a broom handle.”
“Yeah. I was hooded and tied to a railway line and they ran coal wagon towards me on a parallel line. I shit myself. Literally.”
“Come on, James. Is she uncaring? She’s like our sister, isn’t she? She does sowing and darning for the boys and nobody has a bad word to say about her. And, might I remind you, she saved your arse when that grenade was dropped.
“Psychopaths have shallow emotions. They are incapable of showing affection and show no remorse or guilt. They don’t show fear. Now I know Ripley is bloody brave, but I’m pretty sure she gets frightened, which she uses very effectively. I don’t know who trained her or where, but I’m pretty sure she gets afraid, like we all do. She kissed you, didn’t she, James?”
“Oh come on. It was a peck on the cheek, no tongues or fondling or frottage… Unfortunately.”
“Would you say she was irresponsible and incapable of taking blame? Does she blame everyone else for her shortcomings?”
“I wasn’t aware she had any. But no, if she fucks up, she’ll put her hands up.”
Roberts continued, well into his stride now, “Is she insincere? Does she lie?”
“I don’t think she’s overconfident and she’s certainly able to alter her activity and respond to a changing situation, as our dead suicide bomber could attest. She isn’t egocentric or selfish. What about her plans for the future and her long-term goals?”
Ellis was silent for a few moments, “I think that’s the saddest part. She lives for today because I don’t think she can envisage a future. When she was sick, I thought she was going to die. I think she did as well. Although she was delirious, it was as though she was preparing for it. She was talking about someone she once knew and how she would meet them again.”
“Well that leads us to the final item on the check list, a propensity for violence. She doesn’t have a low threshold in order to commit violence and she doesn’t display irritability. And let’s face it, we’re in the business of dishing out ultraviolence aren’t we? So, James, do you still think that Ripley’s a psychopath?”
Ellis smiled, “Thanks, Shippers. Please don’t tell everyone. I feel a bit stupid now.”
He stood up and Roberts looked at him, a curious expression on his face.
“James. Are you in love with Ripley?”
“Don’t be silly, Shippers. You know that I only have eyes for “Larry” Grayson.”

Ellis was sitting cross-legged on the ground, leaning against an olive tree. He was debating on how much hot pepper sauce to pour into the foil packet marked pasta bean salad, or whether Ripley would prefer biscuits brown with smooth peanut butter or tropical fruit and nut mix. In the end he went for the biscuits with peanut butter and decided not to put any of the hot pepper sauce in the pasta and bean salad. She could add that herself. He knew that she liked the raspberry flavoured drink powder so he filled her mug with water and stirred some of it in. Sweet enough to melt fillings.
With some difficulty he carried them over to where she was still asleep, laid out his shemagh on the ground and put the food and drink on it, next to the cot. Ripley hadn’t bothered to put on her niqab. He looked at her serene face and brushed the hair out of her eyes. She murmured and rolled over into a foetal ball.
“Ripley,” he said softly, “Sorry but you have to wake up.”
“Get stuffed,” she muttered and he shook her gently. Her eyes focused on him and she smiled, “Herro, James.”
“Sorry, but the boss wants to see you in about half an hour, so you can do some personal admin first.”
“How long have I been asleep?”
“Three hours. I got you something to eat first.”
“Oh thank you, Sir Tristan. Do you still carry my favour?”
“Of course. It’s better than a sock.”
“Arrg, that’s disgusting,” She smiled when she saw the food and the mug, “I hope you didn’t put too much pepper sauce in the pasta.”
“I thought you could do it. You don’t want an arse like the Japanese flag, do you?”
“Where’s the Boss?” she asked.
“Still in the factory. He and Mr H are turning into troglodytes.”
“I hate going down there. It’s a place of depravity and misery, with evil oozing from its walls. James, I think I’ve been running on adrenaline. I feel exhausted and my leg is really bloody hurting.”
“Do you want me to get one of the Thompson Twins to have a look? Or I could, if you want. I’m very good with inner thighs.”
“Nice try,” Ellis scrutinised at her while she started to eat and she looked up at him shyly, “I don’t like people watching me eat, James.”
“Sorry, would you like me to set up a solar shower? I’m afraid the wind’s a bit of a nipple stiffener.”
“No, I’ll just use two buckets from the river, behind the buildings. I’ll make sure the wounds are covered with a waterproof dressing. How are our guests?”
“The Yazidis are guarding them and funnily enough, they’re being really quiet. We’ve un-hogtied the bloke and re-tied his arms and feet.”
“Behind his back I hope.”
“Yes, Ripley. As per your instructions. We’ll feed them later and if they don’t like tinned steak stew and rice, they can go hungry. I’ll get you a couple of buckets of water.”
He stood up and went to move away.
“What is it?”
“I’m glad you’re still talking to me.”
He smiled, “No worries.”

Ripley ejected the DVD and put it in its case, “Assorted rapes of underage girls and a woman, having her throat cut. No identifiable features for the perpetrators who are wearing keffiyeh, although the throat cutting is outdoors with a significant crowd cheering them on. It took place in the centre of a town, which should be identifiable to someone.
Halward thought about it, “Put it in the “Small Penis” box. I’ve got assorted suicide bombings on Syrian army vehicles and general blowie-up stuff. It’s amazing the astonished expression they have on their faces when the vests go off. It’s almost like, I wasn’t expecting that. This one’s for the “Our God is Greatest” box.”
There were four of them in the underground living area as nobody wanted to go into the room with the ejection seat. They had set up laptops, DVD players, television screens, headphones and various electronic equipment for copying and enhancing digital files. They had fired up the generator to provide power. There were four of them, Halward, Mr Hogan, Ripley and the American Major, Martinez. At one end of the table were cardboard 24 hour ration pack boxes that had been annotated with a marker pen, for the different categories of the abominations they were having to watch. It was a grim and sickening task that was only made tolerable by black humour.
“Five Syrian soldiers being burned alive,” said Martinez holding up a smartphone, “I’ve burned off a copy, if you’ll excuse the pun.”
“Put that in the “Our God is Greatest” box. What have you got, Mr H?”
“A group of men tied to plastic patio chairs and being thrown off the roof of what looks like this building. One man is side on, beard and turban. “Closet Homosexual” or “Dead Man Walking” box?”
“Can I have a look please, Mr H?” Ripley asked.
“Be my guest.”
She went round and looked at the screen while Hogan re-ran the file.
“It’s Parinoush Mahar. I’ve studied his face from every single profile and angle and we staked out his cousin’s house in Doncaster, earlier this year. The spooks wanted him very badly, but the counter-terrorist Plod muffed it and he did a runner to Belgium.”
“Ma’am, would you mind telling me what that means in English?” Martinez asked politely.
Halward explained: “What the lovely Ms Ripley (not her real name) is trying to say is that South Yorkshire’s finest Constabulary did rather a poor job of apprehending Mr Mahar, who slipped their net and decided that a sojourn in the Low Countries was more conducive than being flown by an unmarked jet to Uzbekistan and being subjected to white noise, waterboarding and other such beastliness.”
“Some cynics might even suggest that a member or members of the local Police Service could even have tipped him off, in order to avoid scrutiny regarding their alleged involvement in the widespread abuse of underage, English girls. Perpetrated by men such as Mr Mahar and their extended families. Only a cynic mind you. Not me.” Ripley suggested, “Definitely the “Dead Man Walking” box.”
The hours dragged by, an endless litany of barbarity and depravity. Ripley thought that she would soon go mad and was glad when she picked up the last of the media that had been her pile, a USB drive.
“Lots of document and spreadsheet files on this one, Major.”
“Don’t worry about the documents. GCHQ can analyse those. Just do the images and video files.”
The first video was of assorted beheadings overlaid with a loud, thumping, wailing cacophony that they called music. She fast forwarded the actual acts of beheading because it sickened her so much. The second file had an almost light-hearted, outdoor barbeque feel to it, with a crowd of men enjoying drinks and good conversation, until she realised that the object on the ground in front of them was a woman, hands tied behind her back and buried up to her waist. The men were stoning her and a child who could barely lift it, dropped a rock on her head. Ripley ended it and moved onto the next file. This was grainy and had a lot of movement, as though the person with the camera was overexcited. The film settled on two figures being dragged by a group of men into a town. It could have been in Ash Shaddadi but she couldn’t be sure.
She immediately knew it was two aircrew from their life preservers and anti-G trousers. Both their faces were battered and puffy, probably from the forces of ejection from the aircraft. One was female and she recognised the man trying to strip her as Daffi Hashmi. When she resisted, Hashmi bludgeoned her with the butt of an AK 47. Ripley stopped the file and put her head in her hands.
Halward looked up, “Is everything OK, Ripley?”
“I’ve found it. I’ve found them, the RAF aircrew. I can’t watch it. Please don’t make me because I can’t take any more.”
She pushed her chair back and stood up. She was shaking, “I’m so sorry, but you’ll have to excuse me. The files on that memory stick are the worst things I’ve ever seen.”
Ripley left the room and hurried along the passage to the stairs and by the time she reached them she was sprinting. Out in the main part of the factory she knelt against a wall and wept deep, hacking sobs. The grief she had been bottling up for these abused and tormented men, women and children, by her own kind was too much to bear. The stitches on her thigh had opened up.
Ellis was on stag outside the building, having replaced “Larry” Grayson at 16:00. He heard the sobs and immediately knew who it was, going in and seeing her slumped in misery.
“Ripley, what’s wrong?”
“It’s the evil James… I can’t bottle it up any longer… It’s destroying me.”
He knelt next to her and put his arm round her, “What evil? You’re not evil.”
She was having difficulty in speaking because of the sobbing, “The… Things those… Bastards have done… They are… My people… Just… Just like me.”
“I don’t understand. Is it what you’ve seen down there?”
“Yuh… Yes. The aircrew…”
The RAF crew? Are they dead.”
“Eventually I think… I hope they are.”
He hugged her tighter and she wept with her arms round him. Her heart was breaking and he felt so wretched for her. As her tears soaked him, Ellis knew with absolute certainty that he did love the strange, enigmatic Ripley or whatever her damned name was. He loved her more than anything else and the realisation both elated and worried him.
“James,” she said eventually, “I’ve left my C8 down there.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll get it.”
At least I know for certain she isn’t a bloody psychopath, he thought.

© Blown Periphery 2019