The Observer interviews Sophie Kasiki, one of the few women to escape the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa:
Sophie Kasiki stared at the photograph of a young English-speaking boy in a camouflage uniform and black bandana covered in Arabic calling for unbelievers to be killed in the latest Islamic State propaganda.
Her eyes welled and she swallowed hard. “That could have been my son,” she said, her firm voice wavering. “That’s hard for me to say and makes me want to cry. I would have killed us both rather than let him become a killer, rather than let him fall into the claws of those monsters.”
The “monsters” she is referring to are Islamic State, and Kasiki weighs her words; she knows her four-year-old son was only ever at risk of falling into the jihadis’ lair because she had taken him there.
Kasiki is one of the few western women who have been to the capital of the Isis-declared caliphate at Raqqa in Syria and returned to recount the tale. It was, she said in her first interview with a British newspaper, like a journey into a hell from which there seemed no return.
“I have felt so guilty. I have asked myself how I can live with what I have done, taking my son to Syria,” she told the Observer. “I have hated those who manipulated me, exploited my naivety, my weakness, my insecurity. I have hated myself.”