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German teenager says she was 'idiot' for joining Isil, in first interview since capture

Josie Ensor
Linda Wenzel meets her mother and sister for the first time in a year, in the palace of justice in Baghdad - Weltspiegel extra

A German teenage girl has said she was an “idiot” for joining Islamic State and the decision has wrecked her future, in her first interview since her arrest by Iraqi forces in Mosul.  

Linda Wenzel, 17, claimed her escape was a “stupid idea” but showed little remorse in the first meeting with her family since she left her hometown of Pulsnitz in Saxony for Syria in July last year. 

Linda was briefly reunited with her mother Katharina and sister Miriam, who were allowed to visit her at the Palace of Justice in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. 

A video of the meeting shows Linda, who is currently being held in prison while she awaits trial, wearing a flowery headscarf sporting round cheeks. She appears hesitant at first and pauses for a few seconds before finally embracing her mother, who hands her a stuffed toy. 

Linda embraces her mother in BaghdadCredit: Weltspeigel Extra

She told her mother: “I do not know, how I came up with the stupid idea to go to the Islamic State. I have ruined my life.”

Speaking about why she left home, she said there were problems with her family at that time.

After deciding to convert to Islam she felt rejected by her parents and friends at school. 

“You could have talked about it,” her mother told her daughter in the meeting. “I couldn’t talk to you,” Linda replied. “You said you didn’t accept that I had joined Islam."

Linda's mother hands the teenager a stuffed toyCredit: Weltspiegel Extra 

Linda said she then fell in love with a Chechen man online and he convinced her to travel to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s so-called caliphate in Syria. 

She said she watched Isil videos, “which were so rosy – where men and their wives and children wandered together through parks … they baked bread together. It was like being in another world.”

She travelled on her mother’s documents to Turkey. From there she says she was married to the man, whose full name she does not know. She called him Mohammed, but said: “I don’t know (his surname), something Chechen.”

Linda Wenzel on the day she was capture in Mosul by Iraqi forcesCredit: Social media

The marriage was conducted in Turkey before Linda had even met her fiance. He was on the phone from Syria with a witness. She described the wedding as underwhelming: “There was so ceremony, no party,” she said. 

She said she mostly cooked and cleaned the apartment for her new husband.

“We didn’t talk much, he came home, then...yes, I cooked, always cooked, and cleaned the apartment,” she recalled. 

She said spent most of the time with other women and helped look after their children, moving between the cities of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq. 

“Personally, I would not have been able to handle children,” she said. "I kept busy with myself. Trying not to go mad when you hear a bomb somewhere and the shrapnel falls on the roof.

“Why did you come here, you idiot?” she asked herself. 

Iraqi security forces film as they apprehend Linda Wenzel earlier this year in the Iraqi city of Mosul

She lamented that none of the other women spoke German, which made it difficult to communicate. 

Her husband was later killed in an air strike and she was left alone in a foreign land. 

In January 2017 she sent a message to her mother saying: “My husband is dead because of you. Because you pay for the bombs here with your taxes.” 

She called German intelligence “dogs” and praised the Berlin terror attacker Anis Amri, who carried out last year’s lorry attack on a Christmas market.

Her case became known after she was photographed being dragged out of the ruins of Mosul by Iraqi security forces near the end of the battle to liberate the city in July.

Iraqi security sources told the Telegraph Linda had been trained as a sniper and was found with a gun. 

However, she claimed that while she was brainwashed by the jihadists, she never touched a weapon: “I don’t know how such a thing works”, she said. 

Linda said she was an "idiot" for traveling to Syria to join IsilCredit: Weltspiegel Extra

Next month, she will face trial in Baghdad, where she stands accused of being a member of a terrorist organisation.

Iraqi authorities have so far refused to extradite her to Germany.

“I've ruined my life with this. I can only recover from my physical injuries,” she said, referring to wounds caused by air strikes. “I’ve wrecked my future. In Germany everyone knows me, everyone knows what I look like, I can’t go anywhere without being recognised. I probably won’t even find a job and everyone will say, we will employ her anyway.”

Now, she just wants to return with her family to Germany. “I'm done with Iraq,” she said. 

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