Australia: Sharrouf children reunited with grandmother in Syria five years after family joined Islamic State - PressFrom - Australia
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AustraliaSharrouf children reunited with grandmother in Syria five years after family joined Islamic State

13:31  15 april  2019
13:31  15 april  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

Sharrouf children 'wanted to leave' Islamic State, say they pose no threat to Australia

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The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL /ˈaɪsəl, ˈaɪsɪl/), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS /ˈaɪsɪs/), officially as the Islamic State (IS)

The orphaned children of Islamic State terrorist Khaled Sharrouf could soon be granted travel documents The children ’s Sydney-based grandmother , Karen Nettleton, has travelled to Syria for a third The family is among at least 40 women and children stranded in Syria after the fall of IS, an

After five years, countless phone calls, online messages and two failed rescue missions, Sydney grandmother Karen Nettleton has been reunited with her three surviving grandchildren and two great-grandchildren in a refugee camp in north-east Syria.

Sharrouf children reunited with grandmother in Syria five years after family joined Islamic State© ABC Sharrouf children reunited with grandmother in Syria five years after family joined Islamic State It is the first time she has seen Zaynab, Hoda and Humzeh Sharrouf since they were taken by their mother Tara Nettleton, wife of notorious Islamic State (IS) fighter Khaled Sharrouf — to join the terrorist organisation in Syria and Iraq. Tara, Khaled and their two eldest sons have all since died.

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For years , they heard little from daughters who went to join Islamic State . Now dozens of families across Europe have received messages from “They had no part in any of this.” Like other relatives of those held in Syria , the two mothers asked to remain anonymous - afraid of being linked to IS and

Islamic State militants had killed or enslaved Ayman's parents in their purge of the Yazidi minority to which he belongs, then sold the four- year -old to Umm It was Umm Ahmed’s idea to adopt a child . The couple had no children , and she heard Islamic State was selling orphans in the town of Tel Afar

Four Corners accompanied Ms Nettleton as she made the desperate journey to Syria to rescue the three orphans and Zaynab's two toddlers, Aiesha and Fatimah, from the al-Hawl refugee camp, where they have been living in squalid conditions for several weeks after they managed to escape Baghouz — IS's final stronghold.

"I can't believe this is happening. I can't believe I'm here with you, I'm pretty sure I'm dreaming," 16-year-old Hoda said as she pushed her face into her grandmother's chest.

"You're not dreaming, you're not going to wake up," Ms Nettleton replied as she kissed Hoda repeatedly.

The beginning of the nightmare

For half a decade, Ms Nettleton has lived alone in her silent house in suburban Sydney, the only physical reminder of her family the dozens of photos that hang in almost every room.

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Syrian mother reunited with sons five years after husband kidnapped them. "We seek to ensure Australian children trapped in Syria are not punished for the crimes of their parents," he said. "It is entirely within the Australian government's power to bring these children home and we urge them to

The orphaned children of slain Islamic State terrorist Khaled Sharrouf and his wife Tara who died of an ongoing illness.Source:Supplied. During her time in Syria , Tara shared pictures with a number of other jihadi brides, holding rifles and ISIS flags. Her husband Sharrouf sickened the world by sharing

In February 2014, Ms Nettleton, Tara and the Sharrouf children went to Malaysia on a holiday. Tara told her mother she planned to go on to Turkey.

She said she wanted to visit the famous Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, where scenes from her favourite Turkish soap opera were filmed. They would be home in a few months, she told her mother.

"I kissed the kids, kissed their faces. Hugged them, kissed them again. Hugged Tara. Kissed her. And walked out. And left them there. But I didn't know I was saying goodbye to Tara, to Abdullah and to Zarqawi when I did that. If I knew, I don't know if I would have gone," Ms Nettleton said.

It was the beginning of a nightmare from which Ms Nettleton only awoke this month.

Since 2015, the ABC has chronicled Ms Nettleton's ordeal as she has tried to locate her missing grandchildren and bring them home from war-torn Syria.

Ms Nettleton managed to stay in touch with the five children mainly via messaging apps. She also communicated with Tara up until September 2015, when the 31-year-old died of intestinal problems.

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The teenage daughter of Australian Islamic State terrorist Khaled Sharrouf says she’s certain her father is dead. In reported conversations with the Daily Sharrouf is believed to have died in a drone strike last year , while Zaynab’s mother , Tara Nettleton, is thought to have died in Syria in September

in Syria two years after she took her five children - now orphans - to join her terrorist husband The widow of notorious Australian ISIS terrorist Khaled Sharrouf has reportedly died in Syria The 31- year -old mother died just after she became a grandmother , with her daughter Zaynab, 14

Twice Ms Nettleton flew to Turkey to try to arrange her family's safe passage out of the war zone: twice she came home, defeated, to her silent house.

"I need to have my children back. They deserve to come back here. They deserve to be here and happy and safe and have food and be able to walk down the street, be normal," Ms Nettleton said.

A phone call that changes everything

Then in March, Ms Nettleton, 58, took the call for which she had waited five years.

"Friday night I [got] a phone call from Hoda telling me she's in the refugee camp, al-Hawl refugee camp. I could not believe it," she said.

Two days later, Zaynab, Zaynab's two toddlers and Humzeh also arrived at the camp.

"And then to get the call from Zaynab … it took a couple of days for Zaynab because she had to be processed, but getting her call was … being told she was there, to actually hear her voice. I just knew they were all safe, they will all be together," Ms Nettleton said.

Once again, Ms Nettleton packed her bags and jumped on a plane for the Middle East. This time she flew into Erbil, Iraq, and made the dangerous journey over the border into Syria and to the al-Hawl refugee camp. Four Corners travelled with her.

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The children of slain Islamic State terrorist Khaled Sharrouf with their grandmother Karen Nettleton.Picture: Supplied, Supplied. Her husband Sharrouf sickened the world by sharing a picture of his son holding the severed head of a Syrian soldier with the caption, “That’s my boy.”

The children 's Sydney-based mother , Tara Nettleton, smuggled them out of Australia after her husband had already left to join the caliphate. Hoda said the children had no say in the matter. 'When my Mum told me we were in Syria I started crying. I asked to go home every five seconds

The final search

For 45 minutes, she walked the muddy paths of the camp of more than 72,000 people. She weaved between hundreds of sad, tumble-down tents yelling her granddaughters' names at the top of her voice.

She spoke to dozens of women wearing the all-covering black female gown and veil demanded by IS, asking if they had seen her children.

Eventually, a slight British woman told her the Australian section of the camp was at the camp's far corner. Ms Nettleton started walking.

"Humzeh! Oh, baby!" she cried as she spotted the grandson she hadn't seen for five years. She ran to him, picked him up, swung him about and kissed him across his face.

Humzeh, who was four when he left Sydney and by now has spent more time living in Syria than he has in Australia, led Ms Nettleton over a slight rise and to the family's tent.

As Hoda emerged from the tent, she was so stunned to see her grandmother that her hands visibly trembled.

Hoda and Ms Nettleton were both wearing black and as they fell into each other's arms in a deep embrace, it almost seemed like they were one person.

"Oh my baby, I missed you so much," Ms Nettleton cried as she held her granddaughter.

About half-an-hour later, Zaynab arrived, and the tearful, joyous, reunion was repeated.

"I told you I'd come, I told you I'd come," Ms Nettleton laughed as Zaynab wept and fell into her grandmother's arms.

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The panicked children scattered and hid near the river Nile. Wandering back, they found each other, but not their grandmother . They begged food from families with little to spare. Then a former neighbour, Nyabika Temdor, took them in Sold by Islamic State , Yazidi child reunited with family .

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The family went inside the tent. Ms Nettleton dragged in a maroon suitcase bursting with gifts — the girls' favourite chocolates from Australia, dolls for the toddlers, a headlamp for Humzeh, as well as food, medical supplies and clothes.

The family stayed together for hours, hugging and talking about their past five years and their future — they hope to return to Australia.

After five years of silence, Karen Nettleton's life was suddenly a riot of sound and movement.

Australian officials have told Ms Nettleton her children will soon be released from al-Hawl into her care so they can return to Australia, though it is unclear how long their final journey will take.

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