A Swedish teenager rescued from ISIS territory in northern Iraq has given a television interview explaining how she came to find herself in the militants’ Mosul stronghold, desperate to return home.
Marlin Stivani Nivarlain, 16 — or 15, according to Kurdistan 24 (K24) — was rescued by Kurdish forces last Wednesday, according to the Kurdistan Region Security Council. The K24 interview, conducted in English, aired on Tuesday, out of Irbil — the capital of Iraq’s semi-autonomous region.
Nivarlain, who hails from the town of Boras in southwest Sweden, appears cheerful and in good health, laughing often and apparently eager to discuss her misadventure. She explains that she stopped attending school when she was 14, and met her boyfriend shortly thereafter, in mid-2014. “First we were good together but then he started to look at ISIS videos and started to speak about them and I don’t know anything about Islam or ISIS or something, so I didn’t know what he meant,” she told K24. “And then he said he wanted to go to ISIS and I said ‘okay, no problem.'”
The couple began traveling at the end of May, 2015, taking trains from Sweden to Denmark, Germany, Hungary via Slovakia, to Serbia. From there, they got a lift to Bulgaria, a bus to the border of Turkey where they crossed into Syria. From there, she said, they were met by ISIS members, who took them and other men and women to Mosul. “After that I get my house and in the house we didn’t have anything, no electricity, no water, nothing,” she said. “It was totally different between how I live in Sweden and here.”
“I didn’t have any money, either. It was a really hard life. So when I had a phone I started to contact my mum and said to her I wanted to go home,” she said.
“Now I’m in Irbil, I want to thank the Security Council of the Kurdistan Region, and I want to thank them [for sending] me back to Sweden and meet my family again and have a happy life,” the smiling teen said.