Though it seems highly illogical and incredibly foolish to most of us, there are nevertheless plenty of individuals around the globe that have fallen for the propaganda of the Islamic State group, rushing off to join the caliphate in Iraq or Syria.
That is what happened for a 30-year-old Belgian woman named Laura Passoni, and she is lucky to be alive to share her sobering account, according to the U.K. Daily Mail.
Passoni had fallen in love with and married a Tunisian man in her hometown named Osama Rayan, eventually converting to Islam before packing up her children and moving with him to Syria to join the Islamic State group.
They settled in the town of al-Bab outside of Aleppo, but Passoni quickly figured out that life inside the caliphate was not at all what the propaganda videos had led her to believe.
“I went there voluntarily and willingly, I converted to become a Muslim and then I was radicalized, and I became convinced that the caliphate was only place for me and my family to live,” Passoni explained. “Once I got there though, I really got to know the meaning of terror.”
She described how she was essentially confined to the house all day, permitted only to cook and clean, and was only allowed to leave the house if she was wearing a burka and in the company of her husband, Rayan.
“I was forbidden to do anything, I just had to take care of the home and children. I could not leave the house or use the Internet without the presence of a man,” she said.
“I started to become very afraid that they might take my children away,” she added. “It was just the opposite of what they promised in the propaganda of the caliphate. I decided I wanted to escape when I realized there was a very real risk my son might end up a terrorist.”
Somehow getting her hands on a mobile phone, Passoni secretly made contact with her parents and began to quietly make arrangements to flee Syria. She left with her children in tow, making it across the border to Turkey and ultimately back to Belgium.
Her little adventure did not come without a cost though, as she was immediately arrested upon arriving home, eventually being placed on five years probation with a $17,250 fine.
Her children were also removed from her, though they were placed in the custody of their grandparents and she is permitted to visit them.
“I accepted the punishment,” Passoni stated. “To be honest it was a relief compared to the hell that I went through in Syria.”
She has now dedicated herself to warning others against falling for the allure of the Islamic State group’s propaganda. She recently addressed a public meeting in the notorious jihadist hotbed of Molenbeek, where she said, “My advice to young women is if you are considering it, don’t do it.”