German runaway girl found in Iraq after she converted to Islam

BERLIN: A German girl, who ran away from home shortly after converting to Islam, has been found in Iraq, prosecutors said Saturday.

The 16-year-old teenager, only identified as Linda W. in line with German privacy laws, is getting consular assistance from the German Embassy in Iraq, said prosecutor Lorenz Haase from the eastern German city of Dresden.

Haase wouldn’t confirm media reports that the teenager from Pulsnitz in eastern Germany had been fighting for Daesh in Mosul.

“Our information ends with the girl’s arrival in Istanbul about a year ago,” he told The Associated Press, adding that further details about her whereabouts in the last year were part of an investigation.

Several female foreign Daesh fighters were detained by Iraq’s military in Mosul recently, but Haase could not confirm that the German girl was part of that group.

Earlier this week, Iraqi officials said they had arrested a foreign woman they believe is German in Mosul’s Old City. They said she had been recruited by an Arab Daesh member through social media. But they did not identify the woman as Linda W.

Photos of a disheveled young woman in the presence of Iraqi soldiers went viral online last week, but there were contradicting reports about the girl’s identity — some said it was Linda W., while others identified her as either a Chechen Daesh fighter or a Yazidi girl.

Hundreds of Germans, among them several girls and young women, have in recent years left the country to join Daesh in Syria and Iraq. While some have been killed in battle and suicide bombings, and others have returned back to Germany, there is also a large number that has been unaccounted for, security officials here say. Many of them were radicalized via social media. Local newspapers reported last year that Linda W., who is from the small town of Pulsnitz near Dresden, was also in touch with Daesh members online before she ran away from home last summer. She started to cover her hair and wear long gowns before she disappeared from her family’s home. Her mother later found a copy of the girl’s plane ticket to Turkey under a bed, media reported.

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