Balkan jihadists in Syria still pretend to fight – but the reality is much harsher

By on January 28, 2019

The recent social media activism by some alleged groups of foreign fighters from the Balkans operating in Syria is just another proof of the demise and the weakness of those European jihadists who joined ISIS and Al-Nusra. On 14 July, a group calling itself the “Balkan Guys from Idlib and Aleppo” posted on the Justpaste sharing site an untitled statement in which they were willing to provide information on the situation on the ground, by admitting how bad the situation is nowadays for them. According to such group, “many Muslims have turned their backs on us and have lost all interests (…) We are aware of our situation. We have found out of traitors and hypocrites are. We are aware that our military capacities are much weaker than before”. Nevertheless, they claim that “plans are afoot for major military operations against the Syrian regime in the near future”. Balkan foreign fighters have already come back in great numbers in their home countries, where they have been face prosecution, prison sentences and stigma when back in their communities.

Recently, a Bosnian woman who joined al-Nusra in Idlib and managed to come back to her country gave an interview to a local TV recalling the harshness and the insanity of her life while in Syria. She entered the country in 2016 illegally with two other women from Turkey, without any problem and by paying off several Turkish soldiers to have safe passage. Asked about her ideology and reasons why she went to that Syria, she said she glorified those men who fought for groups such as Al-Nusra Front, feeling admiration for those she was considering as heroes and convincing herself for the need to sacrifice to earn the Jannah (paradise, in Arabic). But she started to change her mind quickly upon arrival. After speaking to people who have been there for quite some time, she began to realise things were far from ideal, that there were only a few of them pure of heart and that most were there for their own reasons which had nothing to do with faith. Then, she said, she realised her coming to Syria would not bring her any closer to God. During the interview, she said that no one abused her physically, but she did suffer a lot of mental abuse from her husband. “Five days after arriving in Syria, I wished to go back to Bosnia. When warplanes started flying over the town, I realised what I was in, and that I needed money to get out of Syria. And so I waited a whole year to get the money,” she said. In November 2017, she managed to escape, paying USD 600 to get her to Turkey, illegally. Seven months pregnant, she jumped over a 5-metre wall and entered Turkey where she was arrested and charged with terrorism. At that time she said she was even happy to be arrested because she thought she would be deported. In prison, she was moved several times from one women’s prison to another until finally getting to a jail where she would spend the worst three months of her life – worse than Syria. During the pre-trial period, she said she was not allowed to contact her family or the Bosnian consulate in Turkey. Only the prison psychiatrist helped her and contacted the consulate. From the moment her trial started, she was allowed a 10-minute phone call every two weeks. In conversations with her father, she explained her situation, and he found her an attorney who managed to prove her innocence. After spending three months in jail and giving birth there, she was released of all terrorism charges. Asked about the possible number of Bosnian women who are still in Syria, she said she is in contact with two other women who are in the territory controlled by ISIS. “They want to come back. They’re desperately trying to find some money to escape, but I feel that Bosnian women living in Syria are forgotten by this country. I feel that they don’t exist for this country”.

This tale shows how desperate the situation is for those who joined ISIS and Al-Nusra and then had realized the huge mistake they made. Because of this, all the stories about groups still fighting in Syria, especially from the Balkans, are just confirming how miserable the life under ISIS rule is.

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

nine + ten =