Karen Nettleton, 58, lived in Australia when her grandchildren were smuggled to Syria to live in the Islamic State in 2014
A grandmother of the orphans of ISIS terrorist Khaled Sharrouf collapsed after reliving the moment when she saw a picture of her grandson holding a severed head.
Karen Nettleton, 58, lived in Australia when her grandchildren were smuggled to Syria to live in the Islamic State in 2014.
Zaynab, 17, Hoda, 16, Humzeh, eight, Abdullah and Zarqawi were brought from Australia by their mother Tara Nettleton.
The family had followed their father, Sharrouf, who had already left to fight alongside the ISIS caliphate.
While he was there, Sharrouf became known after photos were circulating from his young son holding the severed head of a soldier under the title: "That & # 39; s my boy".
The image drew widespread condemnation of, among others, US Secretary of State John Kerry, who made it & # 39; one of the most disturbing, stomach-turning, grotesque photos & # 39; called.
And as an emotional Ms. Nettleton told ABC's Four Corners, the photo rocked the family home.
& # 39; That was the worst photo I have ever seen, & # 39; said Mrs. Nettleton.
While he was there, Sharrouf became known after photos circulated about his young son holding the severed head of a soldier under the title: "That & # 39; s my boy"
& # 39; I can't imagine someone doing something like that to someone else and then holding it up like a trophy. & # 39;
In the image, the boy holds the severed head of a man by the hair with both his hands. A blue, plastic children's watch is wrapped around his wrist.
Nettleton was unable to contain the tears when she complained about the long-lasting consequences that a horrible photo like that would have for her grandson.
& # 39; I was so angry with that photo because he will follow him everywhere for the rest of his life, & # 39; Nettleton said.
& # 39; When you google the name Sharrouf, that photo appears. Every time there is an article in the newspaper, the image is used. & # 39;
The distraught grandmother remembered a number of other photos showing her grandchildren with weapons.
& # 39; There were guns leaning against the wall in photos & ammunition, that was a shock to me to see such things in photos & # 39; s said Mrs. Nettleton.
The two oldest grandchildren Abdullah and Zarqawi were sent to ISIS camps during their stay in Raqqa.
Nettleton would receive photos from Tara and her children, saying she could not understand why someone would train small boys to fight.
& # 39; I would get a photo of a child sitting on a couch. behind them is this kind of automatic weapon. That just doesn't happen in my world. & # 39;
Tara died in 2015 and Sharrouf, along with Abdullah and Zarqawi, were killed in an American air raid near Raqqa in 2017.
The surviving three children were taken to the Kurdish-controlled camp in northern Syria al-Hawl and begged to return home.
Mrs. Nettleton managed to track down Zaynab, Hoda and Humzeh at the filthy campsite of more than 70,000 refugees late last month.
Their emotional reunification was recorded on camera, while the two parties were reunited five years later since the children were brought to Syria.
Emotional reunification: the grandmother of Sydney, Karen Nettleton (photo right), was reunited with her grandchildren last month, five years after being taken to an ISIS stronghold. Granddaughter Hoda Sharrouf, 16, is wearing a black niqab
The heartwarming moment also marked the first time Karen met her great-grandchildren, the children Aiesha and Fatimah of Zaynab
Zaynab (top left), Hoda (top right) and Humzeh (bottom, center) are located in the Al-Howl camp. Their two brothers (also pictured) are believed to have died in air strikes
After searching for 45 minutes in a muddy open field through a sea of sloppy white tents, she finally found her youngest grandson Humzeh.
& # 39; Humzeh! Oh baby. Oh, my baby! Where are your sisters? & # 39; she said.
The young boy then runs in search of Hoda and Zaynab, who were in their tents and dressed in black niqabs.
Sydney's grandmother was seen squatting in tears after seeing Hoda, who was only eleven years old when she arrived in Syria.
& # 39; Oh, Hoda, I'm here. I'm here. Oh, my baby. I missed you so much. Oh my God. This is real. I'm here, & Karen said.
An emotional Hoda replied: “I can't believe I'm hugging you. I'm pretty sure I'm dreaming. I'm afraid I'll wake up. I'm so scared that I wake up. & # 39;
They were later accompanied by Zaynab, who was seven months pregnant with her third child and who suffered from dysentery and severe anemia.
Both girls were reluctant to remove their veils in the camp where women are forced to wear nikabs.
The heartwarming moment also marked the first time Karen met her great-grandchildren, Aiesha and Fatimah.
Khaled Sharrouf (left) who died in 2017 became Australia's notorious self-assured terrorist after images circulated about his young son who held up the soldier's severed head and subtitled: & # 39; That's my son & # 39;
Zaynab gave birth after marrying her father's best friend, Mohamed Elomar, at the young age of 13, who Karen said she had a sense of & # 39; disgust & # 39; gave.
Elomar died in 2015.
When she reaches the end of her third trimester, Zaynab is now afraid she will be forced to give birth in the filthy camp.
& # 39; I think that my biggest fear now is to give birth here because I have heard many stories about people giving birth in their tents and many of them have not worked it out like, & # 39; she said.
& # 39; Some children made it, some children died. & # 39;
The brothers and sisters said they desperately wanted to return to Australia to live a "normal" life, revealing that they were being brought to the ISIS stronghold without any warning.
Zaynab said she had been trying to flee ISIS for a long time, but feared that she would be caught and tortured as a punishment.
& # 39; We have wanted to stay home for a long time, but we were just scared, & # 39; she said.
& # 39; I want to lead a normal life for me and my children, just as everyone wants to lead a normal life. & # 39;
Hoda revealed that she had no idea she had arrived in Syria until she heard people speak Arabic after crossing the border with her family.
& # 39; I asked my mother where we were and she told me we were in Syria. I started crying. I said to her: & # 39; When the hell do we get home & # 39; & # 39;? & # 39;
The children's mom, Tara Nettleton, grew up in the suburbs of Sydney. She later converted to Islam after meeting Sharrouf. Tara died in 2015 after suffering from complications with appendicitis
ABC & # 39; s Four Corners captured the heartbreaking moment when Karen finally found her grandchildren on the filthy campsite of more than 70,000 refugees
& # 39; I didn't know where we were … I thought we could get out whenever we wanted. But that is not possible. Once you are inside, you are stuck, & she said.
Hoda started asking for & # 39; every five seconds & # 39; to go home and was constantly reassured by her mother that they would go home until the day she died.
She described her grandmother as the & # 39; only & # 39; that she had left over from her mother.
& # 39; You're so … you're like Mom's scent. I just wanted to see you again for that, like, one goal. It's been so hard in the last five years, & she said to Karen.
Tara died in a hospital in Mosul in September 2015 after having complications due to appendicitis, but Karen revealed that she only heard of her daughter's death four months later.
Then she embarked on a many-year mission to get her grandchildren back to Australia.
She kept sporadic contact with the children via text messages and phone calls and often received messages from those desperately begging to be brought home.
In March she received a call from one of her granddaughters who revealed that they were staying in the camp and she flew to Syria.
She had previously traveled to the Middle East twice in an attempt to save them, but failed both times.
Sharrouf, who was murdered in 2017, had shared photos of him and his sons embracing their new lifestyle
Hoda (left), Zaynab (right) and Humzeh (center) are alive and in the camp. Abdullah (second from left) and Zarqawi (second from right) are believed to have died in air strikes
& # 39; Friday night I get a call from Hoda that she is in the refugee camp, al-Hawl refugee camp. I couldn't believe it, & she said.
& # 39; And then to get the call from Zaynab … it took Zaynab a few days because she had to be processed, but getting her call was … was told she was there to really hear her voice . I just knew they were all safe, they'll all be together, & she said.
After leaving Baghouz's last ISIS stronghold, the brothers spent a few nights in the ice-cold desert before American troops found them and took them to the refugee camp.
Shocking text messages revealed the desperate pleas of the children with their grandmother, begged her to take them out and asked for basic necessities such as wipes and soap.
Karen desperately tries to bring her grandchildren back to Australia for five years. She kept sporadic contact with the children via text messages and phone calls and often received messages from those desperately begging to be brought home
Both Karen and her grandchildren have claimed that they are not a threat to Australians and do not deserve to pay the price for their parents' actions
& # 39; Please, Nana, try it and come tomorrow, even if it rains because we can't handle this physically and emotionally. It is too difficult. I cry myself to sleep, because this is the first time that I feel like I'm in jail. Please, Nana, I beg you, I can't wait another day, & Zaynab said in a message.
Karen arrived at the camp with a suitcase full of delicacies – skittles, Freddos and chocolate flakes – as well as the supplies for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
THE CHILDREN OF KHALED SHARROUF
Daughter Zaynab, 17 – Alive
Daughter Hoda, 15 – Living
Son Abdullah – died in 2017 at the age of 12
Son Zarqawi – died 11 years old in 2017
Son Humzeh, eight – Alive
Although she can find her grandchildren in the camp, it is still a long way before Karen can take them home.
The Kurdish authorities must approve the release of the children and await permission from the Australian government.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was not prepared to risk the lives of civil servants to save the three children.
He later softened his position that he would only help the children of extremists – not adults – to return from the war zones and work with international aid workers to repatriate them.
Both Karen and her grandchildren have claimed that they are not a threat to Australians and do not deserve to pay the price for their parents' actions.
& # 39; Well, I would say that we were not the ones who chose to come here in the first place. I mean, we were brought here by our parents. And now that our parents are gone … we want to live, & said Zaynab.
& # 39; They are not a threat or a danger to anyone. They are not. I mean, Zaynab is a mother, 17 years old, two children, one coming. Humzeh is a little boy – eight. His biggest concern is his friends. And Hoda is the silent one. She is … she is the real soft, & Karen added.
& # 39; Just because their last name is Sharrouf does not mean that they are monsters. Are my children at risk for Australia? Absolutely not. Absolutely not. No way. & # 39;
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