The Corner

Austrian Teenagers Who Joined ISIS Now Regret the Move

Today in predictable news:

The teenage girls who abandoned their families in Austria to become jihadis for ISIS feel they’ve made a terrible mistake by joining the barbaric lifestyle and they want to come home.

Samra Kesinovic, 17, and Sabina Selimovic, 15, are believed to be married, pregnant and living in the Islamic State-controlled city of Raqqa in northern Syria, Central European News reports.

Evidently, the move didn’t work out as the pair had hoped:

The change of heart is a much different tune than the note they left behind for their parents when they fled back in April, which read: “Don’t look for us. We will serve Allah — and we will die for him.”

Kesinovic and Selimovic grew up in Vienna, where they became accustomed to talking to whomever they wanted, saying whatever they pleased and wearing whatever clothes they liked. They did not have to live a life being controlled by people telling them what they can and cannot do.

I can’t quite blame the girls here. If they were 30, this would be a different story: In that case, they should be expected to deal with the consequences of their actions. But they’re not. They’re teenagers — too young to drink, to buy cigarettes, to own property, to join the military, and to vote. We have an age of majority for a good reason.

As I have noted before, totalitarianism is sadly attractive to the bored and the disaffected, and, as anybody who has either been a teenager or spent time around one knows, there are few people more bored and disaffected than they. At its root, this story is merely an extremely dramatic version of the age-old running-away-from-home-to-be-with-my-older-boyfriend tale. Except, that is, that the boyfriend doesn’t just have a motorcycle and an attitude, he has a rocket launcher and a death wish.

Sadly, it seems possible that the girls will not be able to return. Per the New York Post:

“The main problem is about people coming back to Austria,” said Austrian Interior Ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck. “Once they leave, it is almost impossible.”

This is tricky, certainly. Still, I was a little irritated by the implication in a preceding line:

Now Austrian media are reporting that Kesinovic and Selimovic have said enough is enough and want to return to their families, according to CEN.

They have contacted their loved ones and told them they are sick of living with the Islamic State jihadis, but they also said they don’t feel they can flee from their unwanted new life because too many people now associate them with ISIS.

Austria has its problems. But the challenge the girls face is not so much that their fellow countrymen will judge them harshly if they return as that they have both thrown in their lots with a cabal of psychotic killers who would happily execute them in broad daylight if they so much as inquired as to how they could get out of Raqqah. I daresay that, if they were to get back to Vienna, they’d get some odd looks on the street. Fair enough. But, however judgmental their fellow countrymen might be, they would be unlikely to execute them for apostasy. Really, anybody who is laboring under the impression that the biggest potential drawback to shacking up with ISIS is that they might lose their golf club membership if it doesn’t work out doesn’t grasp who they are dealing with here. Which, of course, is precisely how the pair got themselves into this situation in the first instance.

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