By Anne Speckhard, Ph.D.
Laura Passoni left Belgium with her young son to join ISIS in Syria in June 2014 after being jilted by her partner. Newly married to man who also wanted to join ISIS, the two took a cruise boat from Venice to Izmir and crossed Turkey by taxi and made their way (unimpeded by Turkish authorities) into Syria. None of the promises of her Belgian recruiter turned out true and Laura ended up a prisoner in her own home. Pregnant, Laura tried to escape once with her young son but was caught and turned into ISIS headquarters. Then she was put under home arrest. Later she and her husband and young son successfully escaped and Laura is now returned to Belgium where her ISIS fighter husband is serving time and Laura is on a suspended sentence. Reunited with her two children she spends her time lecturing to youth warning them not to believe the lies of ISIS.
You can view our new ICSVE Breaking the ISIS Brand video clip (made by Zack Baddorf) of Laura speaking back to ISIS here.
The Promises of ad-Dawlah to Women
0:2 it was my first love, and I loved him very strongly.
0:5 When he left with another woman, he abandoned me and he let me down.
0:11 I became very, very, very depressed.
0:12 At that time, I thought that only religion that can save me.
0:17 I decided to make a second Facebook account, slightly more religious,
0:21 to communicate with religious people.
0.24 T that’s when this ISIS recruiter added me on Facebook.
0.30 He said that women could be nurses and help the orphans.
0.34 He said women had status there and were considered precious.
0.44 We women could go join ISIS to enjoy paradise there.
0.49 He said I would have a villa, that I would have horses, that I would have everything I wanted in fact.
0.54: He said I would be rich, even with diamonds.
0.57 He really sold me a dream, that I would have all I wanted in Syria.
1:02 So we went on a cruise.
1:05 And this cruise, in fact, it stopped in Turkey, so we got off the boat there in Izmir.
1:11 Then we went from Izmir to Adana to Gaziantep.
1:13 And in Gaziantep, there were the Islamic State smugglers who took us into Syria.
1:21 I just wanted one thing: to go to Syria and find my new “brothers and sisters” of Islam.
1:27: The recruiter put a lot of hatred in me, even towards my parents, society and all of that.
1:33 So for me, I had turned the page on Belgium and my life was going to be in Syria.
1:43 But, all they said to me was a lie. It was not what I was promised.
1:50 We women are just there to procreate.
1:52 We can’t go out alone. We can’t go shopping. We have no money.
1:55 We have nothing. We have no rights.
1:58 We were prisoners there.
2:01: ISIS are not true believers.
2:03 I am still Muslim and I know ISIS is not Islamic.
2:07 It’s killing innocent people.
2:08 Really, they are not Muslims.
2:12 Don’t join them. Don’t the same mistake as me.
2:16 Because I have ruined my life.
2:19 I endangered the life of my little boy. I really made my family suffer.
2:24 ISIS just wants to trap you.
2:27 The recruiter saw that I was very depressed and that my ex had abandoned me. Then he played on those weaknesses.
2:32 Then he played on those weaknesses.
2:35 In June 2014, Laura Passoni, her four-year-old son and her new husband joined ISIS in Syria.
2:40 In 2015, after a failed attempt, they escaped. She returned home pregnant to Belgium.
2:44 They’re trying to sell a dream so that you will join them.
2:51 After being arrested in Belgium, Laura lost custody of her children for three months. She was prosecuted but released conditionally.
2:56 Her ISIS fighter husband is imprisoned in Belgium under a four-year sentence.
3:00 Laura is not allowed to contact him.
3:03 ISIS lies about what is really going on in Syria.
3:08 They’re not there for religion. It’s just for power and that’s it.
3:14 Laura now lectures in Belgium, warning others of the dangers of being tricked by ISIS.
3:19 The Truth Behind the Islamic State
3:22 Sponsored by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism www.icsve.org
If you want to support ISCVE’s Breaking the ISIS Brand—ISIS Defectors Counter-Narratives Project, please contact us at info@ICSVE.org or donate on our webpage www.icsve.org