IDF Soldier Says ISIS ‘Brainwashed’ Her Jewish Cousin Into Joining the Syrian Civil War
An Operations Sergeant in the Israel Defense Forces who is slated to become an officer is also the cousin of an ISIS fighter who was killed last October, the IDF’s Bamahane magazine reported in this month’s edition.
Leah, a pseudonym, who is now in the advanced stages of the IDF officers’ course, immigrated to Israel from France. Last August, her parents informed her that her cousin, Rafael, had traveled to Syria to fight with ISIS, according to Israel’s NRG news, which also reported on the story.
Rafael’s journey from being born to a French Jewish family to becoming an ISIS fighter may have surprised his family, but his affinity for Islam began years ago. As a student, he was convinced to visit a mosque and to adopt Islamic religious practices.
At that point, members of his family began severing ties. After a year in Dubai and another month back in France, Rafael boarded a plane and departed to join the Syrian civil war.
“He didn’t see it as something evil. He wanted to live as they did in early Islam, without all of the material trappings of our lives,” said Leah, adding that ISIS, “showed him all the good sides, they showed him what was happening in Syria and that they were being killed and he was going to do humanitarian work.”
According to Leah, “they told him he would be participating in humanitarian missions.”
After a week in the war-torn country, Rafael resolved to stay in Syria. In a phone call with his father, he said he was going to oversee IT operations in one of ISIS’s camps.
In their daily conversations, Rafael’s family would try to convince him to return to France from the Syrian battlefield. But their efforts were to no avail.
When his family confronted him about the beheadings and carnage carried out by ISIS, he would deny they ever happened.
Leah said that her father and all of her uncles were extremely worried, and her mother was depressed and cried regularly over Rafael.
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