Morocco native Islam Mitat met Ahmed Khalil, the man who would become her husband, through a Muslim dating site. Khalil, who was originally from Kabul, Afghanistan, had moved to the U.K. and become a British citizen — for Mitat, with dreams of becoming a fashion designer, Khalil presented an opportunity for a new life. Months into their online courtship, Khalil traveled to Morocco, met Mitat’s family, and proposed marriage — even going so far as to show the family his bank statements to prove he could support her.
“He was a normal person,” Mitat said. The only oddity, perhaps, was his demand that she swap her jeans and T-shirts for long baggy dresses.
Shortly into the marriage, Khalil called Mitat from Dubai with news that he had found work in Turkey, and that he wanted her to go on a holiday there with him — and that he had a “surprise” for her once they arrived. So Khalil flew them to Gaziantep, a Turkish city on the border of Syria, where they stayed in a house in which the men stayed in one room, and women and children stayed in the other. Mitat, confused, asked the other women what was going on.
They were going to Syria, the women explained, on a pilgrimage to join the new caliphate. When Mitat tried to object to her husband, he explained to her that the move to Syria was her surprise gift — and that as his wife, she had no choice but to obey him.
After crossing the Syrian border and arriving in the nearby town of Jarablus, Khalil was given training by ISIS for a month, before being sent to fight in Kobani. Khalil was killed on his first day fighting, leaving Mitat alone and pregnant. Mitat, now trapped in Syria, eventually secured a divorce, only to be forced by ISIS to marry again — this time to a man she said may have been an Australian national. He was a gentle soul, she said, and she had a second child with him. But after he died helping ISIS defend the town of Tabqa near Raqqa, Mitat kept his death a secret, sold her possessions, and used the money to hire smugglers to bring her to the Kurdish YPG.
Mitat and her children are now staying with the Kurds in a safehouse in northeastern Syria, and the YPJ says they’ve reached out to the Moroccan embassy to try to help her get home. Mitat, however, says she still hopes that her family might be given British passports, and that she could move to the country where she had originally thought she’d be living.
“I don’t know where I will go,” she admits. “I don’t know because my life is destroyed.”
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