Over the years, dozens of Bosnians, as well as men from the region, joined a number of terrorist organisations in Syria and Iraq. Their wives, future wives and even entire families often came with them. Very few of them returned from Syria to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
A wife of a combatant from the Al-Nusra Front, part of the Al-Qaeda terrorist organisation, spoke exclusively for N1 about her return to Bosnia and what she went through.
A Bosnian citizen herself, she is one of the few who escaped the Syrian war. She said she went there secretly and was not forced to leave Bosnia in any way. She converted to Islam several years before leaving the country. To get there she paid EUR 2,000, and after entering Syria, she got married under the Sharia Law to a fighter from one of the countries from the region – a member of the Al-Nusra Front.
N1’s interlocutor was the first woman to speak about her experiences in front of cameras for one reason only: for all the Bosnian women and children currently living in Syria under the control of Al-Nusra, ISIS or in camps controlled by Kurdish forces.
The situation there is total war, she said. There is little difference from what Bosnia went through.
“There is food and water, and if you have money, you can buy everything there, but the shelling is the worst,” she told N1’s Milica Vucetic. “Nothing can compare to that, that is the worst.”
Her biggest fear was being hit by a grenade and getting buried under rubble, which was often the case. She also feared losing limbs and no one being there to help her in that situation.
“I didn’t fear death as much as I feared those situations,” she noted.
“I’ve seen many dead people and those images and images of children without limbs haunt me even today. I thought about my child and his future a lot, and feared that he doesn’t end up that way.”
Right after coming to Syria, traumatised, N1’s interlocutor started thinking of escaping. In November 2017, she managed to escape, paying USD 600 (some EUR 500) to get her to Turkey, illegally.
Five months pregnant, she jumped over a 5-metre wall and entered Turkey where she was arrested and charged with terrorism. After spending three months in jail, she was released of all terrorism charges.
Asked about the possible number of Bosnian women who are still in Syria, she said she is in contact with two other women who are in the territory controlled by ISIS.
“They want to come back. They’re desperately trying to find some money to escape, but they feel that Bosnian women living in Syria are forgotten by this country. They feel they don’t exist, anymore, as if they were erased from Bosnia the moment they went there,” N1’s interlocutor, who spoke under the condition of secrecy, said.
Speaking about the women who are in Kurdish camps, she said she can only imagine how they and their children must feel.
“Nobody deserves that. Especially not those women who have their own country which has room for everyone. I think that we could at least try to do something for those women because they are still our citizens and they deserve to return to their home,” she said.
“I just hope that they too will have the opportunity to come back to their homes and live normal lives. I know from my own example that if these women could come back to Bosnia, that would be their last chance at a normal life,” the woman concluded.
After receiving her sentence in Turkey, N1’s interlocutor returned to Bosnia with a child born in prison.