A Swedish teenager rescued from Islamic State militants in Iraq has described life in the so-called caliphate as “really hard” and said that she was duped into going there by her boyfriend.
In her first interview since Kurdish special forces recovered her in northern Iraq, the 16-year old told a Kurdish TV channel she had met her boyfriend in mid-2014 after dropping out of school in Sweden.
“First we were good but then he started to look at ISIS videos and speak about them and stuff like that,” she told Kurdistan 24 in a brief interview, using another name for the Islamic State group.
“Then he said he wanted to go to ISIS and I said okay, no problem, because I didn’t know what ISIS means, what Islam is — nothing,” said the girl.
The couple set off from Sweden in late May 2015 and made their way across Europe by bus and train until reaching the Turkish border province of Gaziantep, from which they crossed into Syria.
From there, Islamic State militants ferried them by bus with other men and women to the city of Mosul in neighbouring Iraq and provided them with a house.
There was no electricity or running water.
“I didn’t have any money either — it was a really hard life,” she said, looking relaxed and healthy.
“When I had a phone I started to contact my mum and I said ‘I want to go home’.”
The teenager, who was rescued on February 17, is currently in Iraq’s Kurdistan region and will be handed over to Swedish authorities.
Security services estimate that hundreds of Western men and women have left home to join Islamic State since the group overran large parts of Iraq and Syria in June 2014.
A mother who took her 14-month-old son to Syria to join Islamic State fighters was jailed for six years by a British court earlier this month.
Smiling occasionally, the girl compared life under Islamic State to that in Europe: “In Sweden we have everything, and when I was there, we didn’t have anything.”
Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul was the first major city to fall into the hands of Islamic State militants during their blitz in June 2014, when the group swept across vast areas in the country’s north and west.
To this day, Mosul remains under control of IS as Iraqi forces, aided by air strikes carried out by the US-led international coalition, are battling to reclaim ground lost to the militants.
Iraqi troops are also assisted by Shiite militiamen and Sunni pro-government fighters in the battle, while Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces are fighting IS militants to the north and east of Mosul.