A 16-year-old German girl who ran away from home to join the Islamic State (ISIS) has been captured in the city of Mosul in northern Iraq.
Linda Wenzel, of the town of Pulsnitz, not too far from Dresden, was among the 20 jihadists captured last week after the city was freed from ISIS control, the New York Post reported.
Authorities found Wenzel along with a group of women, some wearing suicide vests, who were members of ISIS’s police force.
Wenzel first joined the terror group when she boarded a flight to Turkey from Germany, with Syria as her final destination after she fell in love with a Muslim she met online. She used her mother’s credit card and assumed her identity to pay for and board the flight.
The teenager told her parents on July 1, 2016, that she was going to visit a friend for the weekend and would return Sunday, the Daily Mail reported. She never returned.
Wenzel’s mother called police as soon as she disappeared and found out that she was not where she said she was last year.
“In her room they found a print of a plane ticket to Istanbul under the mattress. I was shocked. My daughter has never stolen or lied about anything before,” she said. “I am devastated by the fact that she was apparently completely brainwashed and persuaded to leave the country by someone and that she managed to hide it from me.”
Others in Wenzel’s old community are much less forgiving of the teen and want law enforcement officials to throw the book at her.
“What a bitch for putting her parents through this,” said one neighbor who lived close to the home she fled last year. “What sort of a person gives themselves over to a group killing her own people in Germany? I hope a jail cell awaits her when she returns, not yellow ribbons.”
Wenzel changed her name to Mariam and posted pictures on Facebook of herself wearing a headscarf, but German authorities say they are still in the process of confirming her identity before moving forward with the investigation.
“There are new findings in the criminal investigation that are being tested,” chief prosecutor Lorenz Haase said. “When she is clearly identified, the investigation will be resumed.”
German intelligence officials suspect that Wenzel joined ISIS militant groups before she was smuggled into Iraq and was in the process of plotting crimes against the state.
ISIS has also radicalized other teens in Germany.
A 13-year-old boy from Germany attempted to join ISIS in 2016, but authorities caught him at the Turkish-Syrian border.