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Laura Passoni: How Vulnerable Women are being Hunted by Daesh

The recent story of how Belgian mother, Laura Passoni fell under the spell of Daesh gives us a chilling insight into how these terrorists prey on the vulnerable in our communities.

She was an everyday married woman with a young son, whose life went into freefall after her husband left her. In the aftermath of the breakup, Passoni slipped into what she calls “deep depression”. She was at her lowest ebb, vulnerable and in desperate need of new meaning.

It was then that a predatory Daesh fighter saw his opportunity. Using the internet to reach Passoni, he used her despair to his advantage. He quickly gained her trust and offered her a brighter future as a nurse helping the Syrian people.

This was the new sense of purpose she desperately needed and sought.

“He told me I could start my life all over again. He made me believe in dreams,” she told a reporter.

Passoni believed in that vision so much that she travelled to Syria along with her 4-year-old son.

Things turned out very differently of course. Passoni bore witness to mass murder and a life of isolation and oppression.

Daesh’s online groomers are known to indoctrinate women with lies about what life could be like in its ‘caliphate’. Those who experience it soon realise they have become immersed in a living hell where violence, brutality and misogyny rule.

Thankfully, Passoni managed to escape and return home.

Her story should sound a warning alarm to us all.

We all have ups and downs. Life can sometimes be tough. The highs can so rapidly become lows, and that is when we become easy targets for men who masquerade as ‘knights in shining armour’. What they really are is armed militants with gruesome intentions.

At WARN, we look at evidence from the Quran that puts the emphasis on equality and empowerment for women. Through our workshops, we build their strength so they can see Daesh’s promises for what they really are and reject them. They in turn can help other women in their community. Strong Muslim women who stand united cannot be radicalised.