Germany fights to stop ISIS schoolgirl, 16, being executed in Iraq after she was captured with jihadis in Mosul
Iraqi authorities have opened criminal proceedings against a German schoolgirl who ran away to join ISIS. German diplomats are confident Linda Wenzel will be spared the death penalty but fear she could be detained for years in Iraq.
Linda (pictured, after she was captured) was among 20 ISIS followers seized after Mosul fell following a ten month battle which left 25,000 Jihadists dead. She had a malnourished baby boy with her at the time she was found by Iraqi forces.
Charges were laid yesterday against the 16-year-old and three other German women captured in the ISIS stronghold of Mosul in July.
A representative of the Iraqi judiciary has informed German diplomats that the attorney general has opened a corresponding 'formal criminal procedure,' according to Spiegel magazine.
Schoolgirl Linda fled to Turkey then into Syria last year from her hometown of Pulsnitz after being groomed online by a Chechen IS fighter who she married.
He was killed in the savage fighting for Mosul while she was employed by the terror group enforcing the strict Islamic dress code on women in the city.
She burst into tears after her capture and said she just wanted to come home -something not likely to happen for some time.
She was filmed by an Iraqi soldier when she was dragged, filthy, dazed and wounded in her arm, from the former terror stronghold of Mosul.
Footage shows the teenager wincing with pain and screaming as she was led away to a makeshift prison while baying soldiers celebrated her capture.
Footage captures the moment a German schoolgirl was found hiding in war-torn Mosul having fled from Germany to join ISIS.
She flew to Istanbul, was smuggled into Iraq, marred a Chechen fighter who was killed and ended up in Mosul where an estimated 25,000 Isis volunteers died in the battle to retake the city.
In the video two men can be seen escorting Wenzel, who seems to wince in pain from a wound. She looks at the ground and cries miserably as she is led away.
According to local reports, she was dubbed the Belle of Mosul by soldiers during what was described as a 'walk of shame' to a make-shift prison.
One soldier can be heard shouting: 'Make room, make room, she is a Christian, she can't take it any more, she is hurting, she is weak, she is a blonde, she is a German.
'Her name is Dania, no Linda. Allah, Allah. Make way guys, let her through.'
Amid chaotic scenes, an older Iraqi army officer arrived to escort her away.
Iraqi security sources previously said she worked with the ISIS 'morals police' responsible for women adhering to strict dress codes.
Those who did not obey faced a whipping - or worse. Whether Linda Wenzel was involved in brutalising anyone is also unclear.
Two of her compatriots come from the western city of Mannheim, identified as 50-year-old Lamia K. and her 21-year-old daughter Nadia, both Germans with Moroccan roots.
They attended a radical Salafist mosque in the city before leaving their homeland for the ISIS caliphate.
Both were involved in recruiting women to join ISIS and made several videos online.
In July Linda's father spoke for the first time of his joy at learning his daughter was alive in Iraq while Linda has told reporters she regrets having joined the terror group.
Speaking in her prison cell in Baghdad, Linda said: 'I just want to get away from here. I want to get away from the war, from the many weapons, from the noise.I just want to go home to my family.'
German broadcasters NDR and WDR and newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung said they had spoken to Wenzel at a military complex in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad where she said she was 'doing well'.
She is said to have suffered a gunshot wound to her left thigh and told reporters she wants to be extradited to Germany where she would cooperate with authorities.
Her construction worker father Reiner, 52, said he was painting lines on a busy autobahn near his home in Dresden when he got the news that his daughter was alive.
'I collapsed when I learned that Linda lives,' he told Germany's BILD newspaper. 'I heard on the radio that they had found her alive in Mosul.
'My colleagues came over to me. I had to leaver and go and sit at a service station where I cried.
'That is my little one,' he said, holding up the photo of a confused and dazed Linda taken by one of the Iraqi troops who rescued her.
'I recognised her from a little scar across one eye that she got as a child from a garden swing. I have never seen my little one look so serious and so sad.'
Wenzel's construction worker father Reiner (pictured), 52, has spoken of his joy at learning his daughter was alive in Iraq.
Living apart from Linda's mother Katharina, 48, he remembers her calling him on the night of July 3 last year asking if he knew where she was.
Linda had told her and her stepfather that she was traveling to spend the weekend with as friend. But she had actually purchased a ticket for Istanbul using her mum'a money and from there was smuggled into Syria.
Reiner went on: 'Later she found a copy for the airline ticked which shows she had booked a return flight for July 3, but she never came back. They would never let her come back.
'On the day she left I had been in Pulsnitz painting road markings. She must have passed me on her way to the airport.
'All the time she was gone I wished that my Linda was safe and that she would return happy and healthy to Germany. I would always be here for her.'
When she was gone police opened up a probe into her activities with ISIS, suspecting her of supporting a terror organisation. If the investigation is deactivated she could face a ten year jail term if she returns to Germany.
In theory, Iraqi authorities could sentence her to death for fighting for the militant group, although this odd seen as highly unlikely. German authorities are engaged in high level talks with Baghdad to see if she can be brought home to be reunited with her family.
Last month, it was revealed that the teenager had a baby with her when she was found in the ruins of Mosul.
The malnourished baby boy she was with was taken to an Army clinic for medical attention before he and Linda were transferred to Baghdad.
It was previously reported that Linda was married to a Chechen ISIS fighter and had 'admitted' to killing Iraqi troops.
An Iraqi special operations forces soldier who met the girl on the night of her arrest said that it was unclear if the child was Linda's, though she is producing breast milk.
Linda (pixilated, before fleeing to Syria) was unhappy at home and turned to Islam and soon began engaging with ISIS followers in the Middle East on Internet chat rooms.
'I don't know for sure that it is her baby, but she keeps him with her always,' the soldier told The Times.
The soldier said that the teenager was uncooperative with Iraqi soldiers.
'I don't think she regretted joining ISIS because she looked angry and she refused any help that we provide,' he told The Times, suggesting that Linda was 'brainwashed'.
German prosecutors say that Linda ran away from her family home in Pulsnitz in eastern Germany last summer. It's unclear if she will return to Germany, as she could face trial in Iraq.
Linda is now being held in an Iraqi prison facility, where she will be held during an investigation.
Last month, an officer in Iraq's elite counter terrorism unit told The Telegraph said she was a sniper for ISIS.
Speaking anonymously, he said: 'We found her with a gun in her hand next to her Chechen husband, who was then killed by Iraqi forces in a firefight. She said she had killed a number of our men in the battle.'
'She was a Daesh sniper, but maybe her husband pressured her into it. She looked scared.'
The Telegraph said it is thought Linda and the fighter formed a relationship after meeting in a chat room, where he convinced her to join ISIS.
Iraqi MP Vian Dakhil backed up the claims, adding that she was found with explosives and was 'ready to attack the advancing troops.'
An Iraqi soldier told Germany's Bild newspaper that he and his comrades mistook her at first for a sex slave of ISIS terrorists.
Talking under the alias Mohammed Shuraf for protection, the soldier told the newspaper he and his comrades thought at first she was a Yazidi sex slave.
ISIS fighters routinely kidnapped and abused women of the minority sect.
Describing the moment they found her, he said: 'We entered a shattered house, which was previously under fire. There we heard someone screaming for help. It was the girl, she was alone, injured on the left arm and chest, lying on the floor.'
He said her clothes were filthy and around her neck she wore a thick scarf which she could also use as a headscarf.
She was found alongside members of the terror group's fearsome all-female police force, some of whom were wearing suicide vests.
The teenager, described as 'a brilliant student' is said to have become 'lonely and withdrawn' after her parents' marriage broke down and her mother Katharina began a new relationship with a caretaker at a local school.
She is thought to have met a Muslim man online who enticed her to join ISIS after the breakdown of her parents' marriage.
She fled the country using her mother's passport and flew from Berlin to Turkey before making her way to Syria.
In July, her neighbours in the village of Pulsnitz, near Dreseden, south-east Germany, told of their shock and anger that the promising youngster left home to join the extremist group.
School friends have described the quiet teenager as becoming increasingly withdrawn.
In 2015 she was confirmed into the local church. Female priest Maria Gruener said: 'She was a very placid girl who did not want to take part in confirmation instruction.'
But unbeknownst to her, Linda was falsely adopting the faith of the Christian church while secretly giving her heart to Islam.
As she attended the church, her parents' marriage broke down and she moved with her mother to Pulsnitz.
There, Katharina moved in with Thomas Weiss. Unhappy and insecure, Linda suddenly found herself with a new stepfather - and an older stepsister called Dana.
In May last year the troubled teenager made contact on the internet with an Islamist preacher in Hamburg who sent her a copy of the Koran.
'It seemed to offer her answers in a confused life,' said Christina, 16, a fellow pupil at the town's Ernst-Rierscher-Comprehensive school.
'Last summer, shortly before we broke up, she began leaving home with a small bag in which she had an Islamic headscarf and long flowing robes which she donned to cover up all her skin. There were some arguments with staff.'
She stole her mother's credit card and secretly bought an airline ticket to Istanbul. Until six months before she fled she had never even travelled by train alone, it has been reported.
But on Friday July 1 last year she told her mother and father she was going to spend the weekend with a friend called Caroline and would be back in Sunday.
She never came home - and was never at her friend's.
Instead she travelled to Frankfurt and caught a plane to Istanbul before being smuggled into Syria.
Eventually, she ended up in Mosul where she changed her name to Umm Mariam, and was taken as a 'jihadist bride'.
Behind her she left baffled friends and parents as well as teachers who said she was in course for impressive A level results.
Speaking from the schoolgirl's hometown last July, her mother said she was devastated.