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“I have ruined my life”: Radicalisation Tears Families Apart

This week a heartbreaking interview with Linda Wenzel, a 17-year-old German girl who joined ISIS in Syria two years ago, was released. The interview shows Linda in her first meeting with her family since her arrest by Iraqi forces. Currently she is awaiting trial and is full of regret for her actions “I’ve ruined my life with this. I can only recover from my physical injuries…I’ve wrecked my future’.

Her story is distressing to hear for any parent. After experiencing some problems at home when she was 15, Linda found solace chatting online in a jihadist forum. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before she had become radicalised by Daesh’s twisted ideology. In July 2016, while telling her parents she was at a friend’s house, she travelled to Syria to become a Daesh bride.

Linda told the German press that she had seen videos of Syria online that painted the place as being “rosy”. “Men and their wives and children wandered together through parks,” she said. “They baked bread together. It was like being in another world.”

Once she had moved to Syria, however, the reality of living in an extremist regime was very different. She was surrounded by death and destruction and lived under the constant threat of jets flying overhead and drones dropping bombs all around her.

Linda’s future is now uncertain. She is just one of many young people who have fallen for Daesh’s recruitment tactics. Regardless of people’s religious beliefs, most agree that Christmas is a time for families to come together. Yet for the Wenzel’s family, they will be spending another Christmas torn apart.

At FAST, we fully understand that there are many paths to radicalisation, and that spotting the signs is not an exact science. But we must educate ourselves and our communities about the behaviours that are commonly found in those who may have been exposed to extremist ideas.

FAST offers support to families going through challenging times by providing a non-judgmental helping hand and guidance. Where required, we match you with a professionally trained person or agency to deal with your matter, including scholars, advisors and local council departments. Get in touch with us if any of these issues are affecting you.

Featured image credit: Sick Chirpse via Facebook

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