An Australia IS bride who is believed to have fled Melbourne and called for mass poisonings of restaurants has said she’s ready to return to Australia.
The woman, who refused to identify herself but is believed to be Zehra Duman, 24, is living in a refugee camp set up for families of Islamic State fighters. She told the ABC her children require medical attention and food and she wants to return to Australia.
She is living in the Al-Hawl refugee camp in northern Syria following the collapse of the former Islamic State stronghold in the region. She has a two-year-old son and a six-month-old daughter, who she claims aren’t receiving any food and are becoming “skinny”.
“I want to go back to my country. I think everybody’s asking for that because I’m an Australian citizen,” the woman told the ABC.
“Both of my kids are sick. (My daughter is) very malnourished, she’s … very skinny,” she said. “I have no money, I’m not allowed to have money, they don’t give us food here and they don’t let us contact our families.
“My daughter needs milk and I don’t have money to buy her milk. I don’t know what to do now.
“I understand the anger that they have towards a lot of us here, but the kids don’t need to suffer. You know my kids have a right at least to be treated like normal kids.”
Ms Duman, who was interviewed by the ABC in February, fled her home in Melbourne in 2014 to marry a jihadi fighter, former Melbourne “party boy” Mahmoud Abdullatif. He was killed in action five weeks after they wed.
Ms Duman was prolific on social media, spouting IS propaganda and inciting acts of violence during her time with the terrorist group, including calling for mass poisonings of restaurants.
She acted as a recruiter for IS and taunted Australian authorities to “catch me if you can” in posts on social media where she posed with automatic weapons.
Ms Duman’s role as a radicalised Australian and recruiter made her the subject of scholarly research into western Muslims and IS.
When Ms Duman spoke with the ABC last month, she explained she followed her first husband to Syria after meeting him as a teen in school.
“I started speaking to him online — got back in contact with him — and he was religious and stuff. I wasn’t Muslim my whole life. I came here to marry him,” she said.
“Then when you come, your husband dies and there’s no way out. If you’re going to get out, maybe you’re put into jail.”
When they were married they posted photos online of Ms Duman’s dowry, an automatic weapon, with the hashtag #islamicstate.
After Abdullatif died in battle she married another IS fighter who was also killed in battle two months ago, during the collapse of the Islamic State. Ms Duman explained she packed her bags and tried to make her way out alone.
The Australian woman claimed she tried to flee IS for the last two years but it was impossible to escape, according to today’s reports from the ABC.
“Nobody understands that you cannot leave that place without money, and no money is allowed to be sent in, so you’re kind of left in a hole,” she said.
As the fighting intensified in the region and IS strongholds began to collapse, Syrian officials negotiated with IS to allow civilians to leave the area. Almost 30,000 refugees are now living in refugee camps.
The woman, who only identified herself as Australian, said there’s no embassy and she’s not met with any officials while in the camp.
“I have not seen any embassy (official) or anything. We don’t know what’s happening. We’re not allowed phones here, we’re not allowed to talk to our families,” she said.
“The world is talking about taking us back and whatever and we’re just really (praying) that we can get out of this place.”
She said she made contact with her family before leaving her home in Baghouz and they’re aware she’s in the camp.
“They’re trying to see what’s going to happen with me, it’s a hard situation.”
Authorities at the camps say the women and children are given medical care and three meals a day.