Top 10 Ordinary People Who Joined Foreign Terrorist Groups



20 May 2016




Top 10 Ordinary People Who Joined Foreign Terrorist Groups, Turn on the news and you’re almost guaranteed to see a story about some Western kid running off East to join ISIS. But not everyone who flees home to join some far away terror group has easy-to-see connections with it. Go looking, and you’ll find a million unique motives; ranging from the sad, to the dark, to the bafflingly mundane.

10. The Teenage Swedish Girl Who Joined ISIS
Many teenagers run away to fight for ISIS. Some counts put the number of foreign teenagers among their ranks at up to 2,000. But Marilyn Nevalainen from Boras, near Gothenburg, may be unique in that she had no idea who they were or what they did when she joined.

Nevalainen was only 15 when she left the comforts of Sweden for the grinding poverty and constant violence of Syria. Pregnant by her 19-year old Muslim boyfriend, she claims she had never heard of ISIS or even Islam when she left the country. Her story is that her boyfriend became obsessed by jihadist websites after they’d been going out a short while, then tricked her into taking a bus across Europe to the Turkey/Syrian border. It was only when she was taken into the group and became an ISIS bride that she figured it out.

Originally a member of the group, Nevalainen eventually became a hostage until she was freed by Kurdish forces in 2016. With her jihadist boyfriend dead in an airstrike, it seems unlikely she will be returning to Syria any time soon.

The German Rapper Who Joined ISIS

For a long time, Denis Cuspert publically went by the name of Deso Dogg. A German rapper, he was a fixture on the Berlin underground scene in the mid-2000s, and had a personal life that was nearly as well-known. A libertine, Deso Dogg’s free time seemed to revolve around taking a crap-ton of drugs and sleeping with plenty of women.

In other words, he was living the hip-hop dream (or at least a low-budget, German, version of it). When planning for his obituary, Berlin’s low-circulation hip-hop magazines presumably thought Deso would be going down in a shoot-out or at the end of a needle. Not even close. In 2015, Cuspert was killed by a US airstrike. The reason? He had left Berlin to become an ISIS propagandist in Syria.

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Coming up:

10. The Teenage Swedish Girl Who Joined ISIS
9. The Dutch Student Who Became a FARC Spokesperson
8. The Middle Class Brit Who Joined Jabhat al-Nusra
7. The Baltimore Journalist Turned Libyan Rebel
6. The Punk Rocker Who Became ISIS’s Social Media Guru
5. The Swedish Neo-Nazi Carving a White ‘Utopia’ in Ukraine
4. The White Widow of al-Shabaab
3. The Self-Radicalized Australian Teen
2. South Africa’s Real-Life Expendables
1. The German Rapper Who Joined ISIS

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