Swedish Girl Who Followed Boyfriend to Join ISIS, Rescued by Kurdish
A 16-year-old Swedish girl has just been rescued from deep inside ISIS territory by Kurdish special forces.
Marilyn Nevalainen left her hometown of Boras, Sweden, to travel to Syria nearly a year ago after apparently being persuaded by her 19-year-old Arab boyfriend who became a supporter of ISIS after watching copious amounts of propaganda, The New York Times reports.
Kurdish intelligence ended up tracking Nevalainen’s location to just outside Mosul in Iraq via observing her Internet usage. While the U.S. did not play any part in the raid, U.S. troops have trained Kurdish commandos and previously participated in at least one operation. Kurdish forces managed to conduct the raid in ISIS-controlled Mosul without any clashes with terrorists.
The two reportedly told the girl’s parents they were just heading to Stockholm for a few days.
They bused across Europe and entered Syria through Turkey. She was pregnant at the time.
“First we were good together, but then he started to look at ISIS videos, started to speak about them and stuff like that,” Nevalainen told Kurdish TV in an interview.
“But I didn’t know anything about Islam or ISIS, I didn’t know what he meant,” she added.
“And then he said he wanted to go to ISIS, and I said OK no problem, because I didn’t know what ISIS means, what Islam is, nothing.”
She dutifully went along with the plan. Reports indicate her boyfriend likely was killed in an airstrike, at which point she woke up and realized that she did not want to die, as the airstrikes were creeping closer and closer. She phoned her mother and said she wanted to come home.
The plan now is for the Kurds to transfer her to Swedish authorities.
There are, however, some conflicting reports on the date of her release. Some reports indicate she left ISIS in October, so either she rejoined the group or was held by Kurdish militants up until Feb. 17.
“She has been freed,” Swedish Radio reporter Hewa Abdelzadeh said, according to The New York Times. “There’s no reason to doubt that. But there are some questions surrounding the circumstances of where and from whom she was freed. There is a longer story here that we still don’t have a grasp of.”