An Australian grandmother was brought back five years after they were taken from Sydney and forced to the ISIS area with her three orphan grandchildren.
Karen Nettleton, 58 years old, haunted grandkids Zaynab, 17, Hoda, 16, Humzeh, eight, in the al-Hawl refugee camp in Syria late last month, after desperately trying to bring them home for years.
The three children, along with their two other brothers Abdullah and Zarqawi, were brought to Syria by their mother Tara Nettleton to join the Islamic State in 2014.
Tara, who died in 2015, was married to ISIS terrorist Khaled Sharrouf, who became notorious after photos of his young son circulating the soldier's severed head and subtitling: & # 39; that is my son. & # 39;
Sharrouf was killed with his two oldest sons, Abdullah and Zarqawi, during an American air raid near Raqqa in 2017.
After ISIS 'defeat last year, the three remaining children were taken to the camp in Northern Syria controlled by the Kurdish government and begged to return home.
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.
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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, "When the hell are we coming back home?"
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;