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Colin Freeman, Chief foreign correspondent, video source Reuters | 24 Feb 2016 | THE TELEGRAPH
Marilyn Nevalainen, 16, speaks out after being freed from Isil stronghold of Mosul
A Swedish teenager who went to Iraq with a jihadist boyfriend claimed on Wednesday that she had been duped into going into Islamic State-controlled territory.
16-year-old Marilyn Nevalainen, who left Sweden last June after her 19-year-old partner decided to fight for Isil, spoke out after being freed in a covert operation in the Isil-controlled city of Mosul. “I didn’t know what Isil means”
Speaking to a Kurdish television channel, she said she had had no real idea that Isil was a terrorist group, and only realised her mistake after arriving in Isil’s fiefdom and finding out that life was “really hard”.
“First we were good together but then he started to look at the ISIS videos and started to speak about them,” she said. “I don’t know anything about Islam or Isil or some things and I do not know what he meant. And then he said he wanted to go to ISIS and I said to him, ‘OK, no problem’, because I didn’t know what Isil means, what Islam is.”
Ms Nevalainen’s boyfriend is believed to have been killed in an airstrike in the Iraqi city of Ramadi in December. A Swedish newspaper published on its website what it said was a video of him threatening her family during what appears to be a video phone call from Iraq last year.
“She’s with me now,” he says. “I do not know what you have seen in the newspapers. But I just want to say that the newspapers are lying and that she was doing well. She has everything, so you can forget about this little girl because she never comes back.”
In the film, in which he mixes Arabic, English and Swedish, he also criticises family for disapproving of the couple’s relationship and that they “will never again see her”. He adds that all Swedes are racists and that “the fight has just begun”.
The couple set off from Sweden in late May 2015 and made their way across Europe by bus and train until reaching the Turkish border province of Gaziantep, from where they crossed into Syria.
Isil couriers then ferried them by bus with other men and women to a house in Mosul neighbouring Iraq, where there was no electricity or running water.
“I didn’t have any money either. And it was a really hard life,” she added. “When I had a phone I started to contact my mom to her that I want to go home.”
Ms Nevalainen, who was rescued on February 17, is currently in Iraq’s Kurdistan region and will be handed over officials back in Sweden, where she was in foster care.
Security services estimate that hundreds of Western men and women have left home to join Islamic State since the group overran large parts of Iraq and Syria in June 2014.
A mother who took her 14-month-old son to Syria to join Islamic State fighters was jailed for six years by a British court earlier this month.