07:20 GMT07 July 2020
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    She was married to a Daesh leader, was in prison in Syria and witnessed how young girls are sold as sex slaves. Now "Sara" is back in Sweden and chose to share her unique experience of life in one of the world's deadliest terrorist groups.

    "We just cut off their heads before they can actually feel anything. It goes off fast, they die immediately," she said in a documentary by Swedish Television, which was aired last past weekend.

    According to journalist Karwan Faraj, who is the author of the documentary "Her Trip to Daesh," the aim was to provide insight into one of the most brutal terrorist groups by means of a woman's true story.

    "Sara" comes from western Sweden and began shifting towards extremism at young age. When the US began its invasion of Iraq in 2003, she dreamed of going to Iraq to join al-Qaeda. She felt that they did the right thing — fighting for Islam. Back then Sara felt responsible for her children and chose to stay in Sweden.

    "Al-Qaeda fought for Islam, and the only way to impose sharia law is to fight. I thought they were right when they stood up against the Americans, who at that time occupied Iraq and killed innocent women and children," she said.

    When the Syrian war broke out in 2011, she kept a close eye on the jihadists' progress through friends and relatives who fought for different groups in the Middle East. In June 2014, Daesh proclaimed an Islamic caliphate in Syria and Iraq. At that moment Sara understood she could no longer stay in Sweden, so she took her children with her and moved to Syria after scrambling through the Turkish border.

    "I thought it was over now, that I will never get to see Sweden again. I was very happy about it," Sara said in the documentary.

    Her rosy expectations, however, were soon crushed by the brutal reality, as she was forced to share a dirty and overcrowded room with several other women and drink poisoned water. After an unsuccessful attempt to flee, she was thrown in jail, where she saw 14-year-old sex slaves and witnessed public executions and torture.

    At some point after her release from jail she married a man of wealth who also happened to have a prominent position within Daesh. The marriage, however, was brief, as her husband died in battle shortly thereafter. Being a constant witness to terrorists' atrocities, she began to question whether Daesh was right for her. In early 2015, she made up her mind to return to Sweden (the same path via Turkey, but in reverse), after Daesh murdered a captured a Jordanian pilot by burning him alive.

    "Sara" thinks such brutality does not belong to Islam.

    "We just cut off their heads before they would actually feel anything. It goes off fast, they die immediately. We do not torture anyone," she said in the documentary.

    Today, Sara is left with a cloven image of Daesh. Sara does not have any feelings of guilt for having joined the terrorists and says that she personally was never involved in any crimes. At present, she would rather live in a non-Muslim country than in a country that claims to be such, but is not. However, she still speaks in favor of corporal punishment for extramarital sexual relations, but at the same time stated that she would never carry out a lashing herself.

    Magnus Norell, a researcher specializing in terrorism at the Swedish Defense Research Agency, says that the fight to stop people from being recruited by Daesh is to be fought at the ideological level.

    "It has never been too difficult for Daesh to recruit people from Sweden and other European countries. The Security Police's take of approximately 350 Swedish citizens having joined Daesh is probably too low. The recruits come from all social groups, the only common denominator being that they have a deep religious conviction," he told Göteborgs-Posten.

    Earlier in April, a new law on "terrorist trips" came into force in Sweden. This week, a toughening of passport rules is also expected.

    recruitment, terrorism, SVT, Daesh, Syria, Scandinavia, Sweden
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