One mother recounts life in Raqqa after fleeing the Daesh ‘capital’ for her homeland

Published January 11th, 2016 - 07:45 GMT

A mother who went to Raqqa with her young son has revealed how she ended up fleeing ISIS [Daesh] 'monsters' in fear of her life after realising just days later that she had 'journeyed into hell'.

Sophie Kasiki travelled to the group's Syrian capital Raqqa in February with her four-year-old child after being recruited by three extremists based in the city.

But she soon realised she had made a 'monumental mistake, the worst of my life' and was threatened with being stoned or killed after begging the ISIS extremists to let her go home.

In an interview with Kim Willsher in the Observer, the 34-year-old, from Paris, France, described how she converted to Islam without telling her atheist husband.

Kasiki, who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, had been working as a social worker helping to settle immigrant families and later made friends with three young jihadists in the French capital.

They later travelled to Syria before convincing her to join them, preying on what she described as her naivety, weakness and insecurity'.

She made the journey to Syria via Turkey with her son after lying to her husband that she was going to work in an orphanage in Istanbul.

Kasiki instantly realised that the reality was far from the 'paradise' that had been sold to her and she was ordered not to go out alone and to give up her passport.

Her story, called Dans la Nuit de Daech (In the Night of Daesh) - charting her 'hellish nightmare' - was published last week.

Kaiski described squalid conditions in the maternity unit where she was set to work and the agony of receiving increasingly desperate text messages from her panic-stricken husband.

She said: 'I asked to go home. Every day, I said I missed my family and my son needed to see his father. To begin with they made excuses, then came the threats.

'They said I was a woman alone with a child and I couldn’t go anywhere, and if I tried to leave I would be stoned or killed.'

On one occasion one of the Frenchmen came to take her son to a mosque only to punch her in the face when she tried to intervene.

They then took Kasiki and her son to a 'guest house' - essentially an ISIS prison - where she saw dozens of foreign women and was horrified to see children watching sickening footage of ISIS executions.

She described how the only way of escaping the building was by marrying an ISIS fighter adding: 'In reality, these western women were just wombs to make babies for Daesh.'

But incredibly, Kasiki found an unlocked door and managed to escape a day later - before being taken in by a Syrian family who risked their lives to keep her safe.

In April, she and her son were driven by motorbike to the Turkish border and she eventually reached Paris where she was interrogated by French authorities and held in prison for two months.

She told the Observer: 'I have felt so guilty. I have asked myself how I can live with what I have done, taking my son to Syria.

'I have hated those who manipulated me, exploited my naivety, my weakness, my insecurity. I have hated myself.'

She is now reconciled with her husband but faces possible child kidnapping charges, the Observer reports.

Reflecting on her lucky escape, Kasiki admitted she was 'brainwashed' and told the newspaper: 'I must prevent other people being drawn into this horror. What can I say? Don’t go.'

French intelligence services say about 220 French women are believed to be with ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the Observer reports, adding that while 35 per cent of French people who travel to join the extremists are women.

While there have been frequent reports of western women joining the radical organisation, there have been few examples of them returning.

By Julian Robinson

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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