An 8-year-old girl, who was born in the United States but grew up with her ISIS parents has been rescued form a Syrian camp is waiting to hear if she can return to her own country, according to reports. Aminah Mohamad was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee to American and Swedish parents, who had joined the terrorist organization in 2014.
The girl was rescued on July 17 and is now an orphan. She is now being held at a secure location in northeast Syria, but her fate swings in balance as there is yet no confirmation on whether she can return to the United States.
Lonely and Alone
Mohamad is the daughter of an American woman, Ariel Bradley, who grew up as an evangelical Christian. Bradley was from Tennessee and her husband was from Sweden. Mohamad had been living under ISIS control since her parents joined the terrorist organization in 2014 before being sent to a Kurdish-controlled detention camp after both her parents died, according to Buzzfeed.
On Saturday, she was interviewed by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism about her life with the terror group, ex-diplomat Peter Galbraith told the outlet. "She clearly self-identified as Amina and talked about her family with deep sadness," said the rescue group's director, Anne Speckhard.
According to reports, Mohamad's mother homeschooled her and provided her with an education based on the beliefs of the Pentecostal Church of God. However, as she grew older she became an atheist and denounced religion as a "delusion."
However, Speckhard said that the girl "doesn't have a clear context as to where she is from," and that she needs "a safe, predictable and loving environment to replace the traumatic one (she) lived under."
Mohamad was rescued by Galbraith and a Canadian woman had met the girl's mother while living under ISIS, which she has since denounced. "Children in the camps have the worst start to life," the woman, whose name was withheld by Buzzfeed, said. "They are already traumatized by losing one or more parents and growing up around violence, poverty and misery."
That said, Mohamad is not waiting to hear form authorities if she can return to the United States where she can have a better life and education.
Mohamad was growing up under her mother's guidance but Bradley soon became disillusioned. Bradley took to social activism, pushing for racial equality, teachers' rights and fair housing, while also volunteering with the homeless.
However, she soon got tattoos, drank and smoked weed, before developing a crush on a young Muslim man she met while working at a local restaurant. She then started dressing more modestly, made Muslim friends and wore scarves over her head, and officially converted to Islam in 2011.
The family then moved to Sweden but eventually relocated to ISIS-controlled territory in the Middle East, where they lived under the terror group's rigid guidelines.
According to Buzzfeed, Mohamad's father was killed in an airstrike in June 2015, and her mother remarried a devout ISIS follower, an Australian named Tareq Kamleh. But both Bradley and Kamleh were killed in 2018.
The girl then was turned over to another of her stepfather's wives, a Somali woman who remained devoted to the terror group. Galbraith said that, once he learned the 8-year-old was in one of the camps, he "couldn't just leave her there if it was possible to get her out." And finally she was rescued.