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Swedish 'Isis' teen girl 'celebrated Paris attacks'

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An image of Isis militants posted online last year. Photo: AP Photo/uncredited
13:11 CET+01:00
UPDATED: A 17-year-old Swedish girl who was arrested in Vienna on suspicion of planning to join Isis militants has been appointed an Austrian criminal lawyer known for defending alleged jihadists.

She was arrested on December 5th at Vienna's Westbahnhof rail station, after her parents reported her missing from her home in Linköping in southern Sweden and told police that she had been radicalized after watching Isis videos. Detectives believe she was planning to travel from Vienna to Syria.

The girl's mother said that she had started dressing and behaving differently and her brother had found a mobile phone hidden under her pillow on which she had downloaded Isis propaganda videos and instructions on how to support jihadists.

She is reported to have sent text messages after the Paris terror attacks of November 13th, saying how “happy” she felt about them.

Sweden has not requested that she be extradited as under Swedish law preparing for a trip to join the jihad in Syria is currently not a criminal offence, although it is in Austria. The 17-year-old Swedish girl knew this and posted a message via social media in which she said: “It's not a crime to go to Syria here, they can't do anything to me.” However, she obviously had not anticipated being arrested in Austria.

Defence lawyer Wolfgang Blaschitz visited her in Vienna's Josefstadt prison on Friday and told the Kurier newspaper that “she doesn't understand the world any more. All she wanted to do was get away from her parents, and now she finds herself in prison”. He added that he intends to free her as soon as possible.

The girl had managed to travel to Austria without a passport, which she left at home, and he said it was therefore highly unlikely that she would have been able to travel to Syria.

He said she had changed her plans as she travelled to Vienna, and intended to return to Sweden. “She had 2,000 Swedish kronor (€217) in her pocket, she was hardly going to conquer the world.”

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The teenager is considered to be a flight risk and will be held over Christmas in pre-trial custody until at least December 28th.

She is understood to have been born and raised in Sweden and was attending a high school in Skäggetorp, an area of Linköping with a growing proportion of immigrant families and higher than average unemployment.

Swedish Security Service Säpo said in October that it believed around 35 women have travelled from Sweden to Syria and Iraq to join extremist groups.
 
Back in May, Magnus Ranstorp from the Swedish Defence University told The Local that while some women and teenagers were persuaded or forced to travel to the Middle East by friends and family members, others “look up to the fighters like pop stars” and leave home of their own accord. 
 
“For a lot of the girls this is a form of emancipation in a perverse way. They think they are getting away from the leash of patriarchal structures in their families or the areas where they live,” he said.

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