Two Austrian teenage girls who ran away to Syria to join Islamic State fighters are beginning to regret their decision. Security service insiders told Austrian media that the girls have managed to contact families and one wants to go home.
The pair left home to join Islamic State (also known as ISIS, or ISIL) in April. Little information was immediately known, aside from that one had been 16 and one 14 at the time of their departure. Both reportedly married Chechen fighters after their arrival in Syria and became pregnant.
Samra Kesinovic and her friend, Sabina Selimovic, are children of Bosnian migrants, but grew up in Vienna. On their departure from Austria, they left a note, telling their parents: “Don’t look for us. We will serve Allah – and we will die for him.”
Since their departure, pictures have emerged online of the pair brandishing Kalashnikov rifles and wearing the full niqab. However, Austrian police have claimed that their social media accounts were overtaken and manipulated by IS.
“It is clear that whoever is operating their pages, it probably is not the girls, and that they are being used for propaganda,” a security expert told the Austrian Times.
Interpol released images of the two girls in April, after they disappeared. Both sets of parents have been attempting to make contact and unconfirmed reports have stated that communication has been established.
Both are currently believed to be in Rakka, in northern Syria. According to Vienna-based newspaper Österreich, Samra wants to return home as the horrors of Syria “have become too much.” The newspaper, which is known for its close links both to the security services and the children’s families, says that death is a “constant companion” for the girls.
There is some hope for women wishing to flee IS, however. In recent days, a Syrian woman fled from IS to Turkey. However, Sabina was reportedly “not yet ready to return.” Anyway, they may find attempts to return difficult.
“The main problem is about people coming back to Austria. Once they leave it is almost impossible,” said Karl-Heinz Grundboeck, a spokesman for the Austrian Interior Ministry.