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German Teen Who Fled To Join ISIS Begs To Return Home (Photos)

| by Sarah Zimmerman
MosulMosul

A German teenager who fled to Iraq in 2016 to join ISIS is begging to come home, saying that she is willing to cooperate with German authorities.

Linda Wenzel, 16, left for Turkey and was smuggled into Syria after the collapse of her parents' marriage, according to the Daily Mail. It's believed that during the difficult divorce process, the young teen was being groomed by a Chechen extremist, who convinced her to flee her small town in Germany.

The night of her disappearance, Linda told her mother and stepfather that she would be spending the night with a friend. By the time her parents found a copy of her plane ticket, she was already gone.

The airline ticket showed that she booked a return flight home, but she never reappeared. Her family had been unable to contact her and presumed her dead.

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Nearly a year after her disappearance, though, Linda was found alive in the rubble of a destroyed house in Mosul.

"I collapsed when I learned that Linda lives," said her stepfather Reiner, who heard the news on the radio while working on a construction site. 

"My colleagues came over to me. I had to leave and go and sit at a service station where I cried."

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Linda is currently being questioned by American and Iraqi interrogators in Baghdad. She is believed to have suffered a gunshot wound to the thigh. 

She may also have had a baby with the Chechen extremist who convinced her to flee, according to The Times. The teen was found carrying an extremely malnourished boy. 

"I don’t know for sure that it is her baby, but she keeps him with her always," said an unnamed Iraqi soldier familiar with the situation. He added that Linda has been seen breast-feeding the child, further indicating that he could be her son.

Speaking for the first time since her disappearance, Linda said that she desperately wants to return home to reunite with her family.  

"I just want to get away from here," she told reporters from her cell in Baghdad. "I want to get away from the war, from the many weapons, from the noise.I just want to go home to my family."

If she returns to Germany, it's possible that she may face 10 years in jail for supporting a terrorist organization.

It's also possible that she may face trial in Iraq, in which case she could be sentenced to death for colluding with extremists. According to The Telegraph, an officer in Iraq's elite counter-terrorism unit said that she was found holding a gun and admitted to killing a number of Iraqis in battle.

German authorities have begun talks with Baghdad to see if she can be safely returned home.

Sources: Daily Mail, The Telegraph, The Times / Photo Credit: California National Guard/Flickr, Daily Mail

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