When ISIS came for Zeinat and her family, they ran, terrified, for the safety of the mountains. They had heard the horror stories and knew only too well what might happen to them if they stayed in their home.
But they were too late; stranded at the foot of Iraq’s Mount Sinjar by the huge crowds of refugees struggling uphill, they were easy pickings when fighters arrived.
Separated first from her father, and then from her sisters, she was forced — like thousands of Yazidi women — into slavery, treated as the property of the so-called “Islamic State.”
Zeinat, though, wasn’t working for ordinary rank-and-file ISIS militants; instead she was handpicked to serve terror boss Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his family and friends.
Speaking exclusively to CNN, Zeinat (not her real name), 16, has told of how al-Baghdadi beat and mistreated her. She also says he raped American hostage Kayla Mueller, who was held captive by the group after being taken hostage in 2013.
“He treated us so badly,” she says, her beautiful, expressive blue eyes peering out fearfully from behind a rust-red tasselled headscarf as she relates her harrowing ordeal at the hands of one of the world’s most wanted men.
“He would always tell us: Forget your father and your brothers. We have killed them. And we have married off your mothers and sisters. Forget them.”
Selected by the terrorist leader — though she did not know who he was at the time — at a slave market in “a white palace … between the mountain and the sea,” Zeinat and eight other girls were taken to his home in Raqqa, Syria, the de facto capital of ISIS’ territory.
As soon as she arrived, she says, she was made to watch a video showing ISIS fighters beheading a Westerner and threatened with the same fate unless she agreed to abandon her Yazidi faith.
“There was a journalist, an American journalist, and there was a man dressed all in black,” she remembers. “He killed the journalist. He beheaded him.”
Zeinat’s description matches widely circulated ISIS videos of the killings of James Foley, Steven Sotloff and other Western hostages.