— LetteraDonna (@LetteraDonna) April 20, 2016
A Belgian woman has returned from Syria after finding out that life there wasn’t what ISIS had promised.
Laura Passoni, 30, had converted to Islam and moved to Syria to join the Islamic State after meeting her future husband, a Tunisian man, at the local supermarket.
“I was not forced to become a Muslim, I was persuaded. You just get washed away, like trying to stand against a waterfall,” Passoni said, the Daily Mail reports.
They lived in al-Bab, in northern Syria, between 2014 and March of 2015.
“I went there voluntarily and willingly, I converted to become a Muslim and then I was radicalised, and I became convinced that the caliphate was only place for me and my family to live,” Passoni said. “Once I got there though I really got to know the meaning of terror.”
Passoni said she was trapped inside a house where she had to cook and clean, and could only leave the house if dressed in a burqa and accompanied by her husband.
— Syrian Updates (@syrializer) April 27, 2016
The Islamic State did offer Passoni some positives, such as free access to alternative medicine, but it ultimately felt like living in a prison, she said.
She had a four-year-old son from a previous relationship, and a one-year-old with her husband. Their safety had motivated her to leave.
“I started to become very afraid that they might take my children away. It was just the opposite of what they promised in the propaganda of the Caliphate. I decided I wanted to escape when I realised there was a very real risk my son might end up a terrorist,” Passoni said.
She managed to escape via Turkey, but refuses to give more information as it might endanger the other escapees.
Passoni was given a five-year probation and $17,000 fine after returning to Belgium. She was also banned from using any social media networks.
Her children were taken away from her by social workers, and are now in the hands of their grandparents.
“I accepted the punishment. To be honest it was a relief compared to the hell that I went through in Syria,” Passoni said.