An Australian woman has told how she lied to go live in Syria with her children
Umm Sulaym al-Muhajirah wrote her account in an ISIS propaganda magazine
After her husband’s death in war she wanted ‘to be a part of this noble campaign’
She lied to her family to leave and take her two children to the terror group
Islamic State has paraded an Australian ISIS bride in the latest issue of its online propaganda magazine, featuring the story of how she and her two children secretly sneaked into Syria.
The woman, who is unidentified except for an assumed name of Umm Sulaym al-Muhajirah, speaks about travelling to the so-called Islamic State after her husband was killed fighting for ISIS in Syria.
Her journey is perilous and includes her family’s capture, imprisonment and eventual release by Turkish authorities after she was intercepted trying to cross the Syrian border.
Raphael Gluck, an American counter-terror analyst who specialises in the extremist group’s online propaganda, told nine.com.au he believed the woman’s account was likely factual and true.
The six-page article in the just-released 13th issue of Rumiyah does not divulge which Australian town or city Umm Sulaym lived.
Her husband, according to the article, was fatally shot in the head during a gun battle with Syrian militants in January 4, 2014 following his defection to ISIS in 2013.
Umm Sulaym talks about being disillusioned with Islamic imams and scholars in Australia, prompting her to make plans to defect to war-ravaged Syria with both of her children.
“I wanted [our children] to grow up with jihad being our reality,” Umm Sulaym said. “I could no longer tolerate living in Australia.”
Umm Sulaym, at the time living with her parents, then hatched a secret plan to reach Syria by pretending to fly into Lebanon via Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
She talks about “disguising it as a trip to visit family”, indicating she could be of Lebanese descent.
None of Umm Sulaym’s immediate family in Australia were aware of her intentions, she claimed. She also accused ASIO of being “blinded” and “unable to gather enough information to prevent me from flying”.
When it was time to travel, Umm Sulaym boarded a flight to Abu Dhabi, suggesting she flew with Etihad, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates.
“My children were very well-behaved on the 14-hour journey,” Umm Sulaym said.
In Abu Dhabi, instead of boarding a plane for Lebanon, the family fled the terminal and made their way north to Dubai. From there, the young family flew into Turkey.
Umm Sulaym and her two children were taken to an ISIS safe house before, under cover of darkness, driving with several other women and their kids towards the Syrian border.
“However, soon after, the darkness was interrupted by the approach of bright lights, which kept shining brighter, and there were sounds of vehicles, which kept growing louder, and within seconds we heard over a dozen Kalashnikovs being locked and loaded and then aimed towards us, with men jabbering in Turkish. We instantly knew we were not in Syria.”
Umm Sulaym claimed she was detained by border authorities, including being passed on to the Turkish branch of Interpol, for an undetermined number of days before being eventually released into Syria and the so-called caliphate.
It is not known if Umm Sulaym and her children are dead or alive, following Islamic State’s heavy defeats in Syria by the US-led coalition.
Personal narratives such as Umm Sulaym’s are common to jihadi propaganda publications, Raphael Gluck, a lead analyst at jihadoscope, told nine.com.au.
As well as looking to bolster support for ISIS, such stories can be viewed as “chastising” and “chiding” devout Muslims who are not sold on Islamic State’s ideology, Gluck added.
“Some of these narratives are from the people you would least likely expect to attempt to reach ISIS, so perhaps these stories are supposed to paint pictures of heroes and heroines.
“In this case, a convert, a widow with children, who despite the odds, still made it to the so-called caliphate.”
It is believed about 15 Australian women are in Syria.
An Australian woman, Shadi Jabar, who was killed in a coalition air strike in Syria last year was a key recruiter for ISIS.
She used encrypted app Telegram to try and seduce men and women towards the Islamic State cause.
Jabar, who adopted the name Umm Isa al Amrikiah after fleeing to Syria in late 2015, was the sister of Farhad Jabar, the teenager who shot dead police accountant Curtis Cheng outside Parramatta Police Station.
Last month a United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism report found foreign jihadists often fled Syria “disillusioned and disappointed” after ISIS failed to make good on its promises.
Documented were personal accounts of inadequate military training camps and religious courses run by “immature” teachers who appeared bereft of in-depth teachings.
Regular salaries, houses, furniture, full time jobs, houses and even wives failed to materialise once fresh recruits had arrived in the self-declared caliphate.