A Danish woman who spent a year fighting ISIS with Kurdish forces in the Middle East has not only been incarcerated in her home country of Denmark and faces more jail time, but she also has had a $1 million bounty placed on head by the Islamic State. Joanna Palani, who became a media sensation by telling Vice magazine that ISIS fighters were "easy to kill," might now have become an easy target herself.
Iraqi News reported this week that Islamic State media announced Saturday that the extremist organization had placed a $1 million bounty on Joanna Palani, a reward for killing the former Danish college student who had dropped out of school to fight with Kurdish forces against ISIS. Unfortunately for Palani, the reward could be a little easier to collect, considering that she has been taken into custody in Copenhagen, Denmark, according to The Mirror.
The British paper recounted that Palani was arrested after returning to Denmark from Qatar, therefore violating a travel ban the government had placed against her movements upon her return from the Middle East. Back in November 2014, Palani dropped out of college, where she was a politics and philosophy student, and journeyed to Iraq, then Syria, where she joined the YPG (People's Protection Units). But she would move on, according to Vice magazine, to do as her father and grandfather had before her -- fighting with the Kurdish Peshmerga.
By her own account, Palani was also part of a group that liberated women and children being held as sex slaves by ISIS fighters. All in all, she spent nearly a year fighting the Islamic State.
But after returning to Denmark in September 2015, to visit her family, Joanna Palani found her passport revoked. She was placed on a travel ban and told she could not leave the country. As The Mirror explained, by Danish law, such measures can be taken against any Dane planning to join foreign conflicts, regardless of whatever side the citizens join in said conflicts.
"How can I pose a threat to Denmark and other countries by being a soldier in an official army that Denmark trains and supports directly in the fight against the Islamic State?" she posted on Facebook (per Iraqi News) after the travel ban was imposed.
She told Vice she felt the confiscation of her passport as a "betrayal" by her government, given that she has become the victim of unforeseen consequences associated with laws intended to thwart the movement of young ISIS supporters trying to reach the conflict in the Middle East.
And yet, despite the ban, leave the country she did, violating the travel ban by flying to Doha, Qatar, on June 6. It is not clear whether or not she travel outside of Doha.
She was taken into custody by Danish authorities in Copenhagen, where she resides, and now faces up to six months in jail for the travel ban violation.
The case has reportedly divided the nation.
The 23-year-old Palani, whose heritage includes Iranian and Kurd, was born in a United Nations refugee camp in Ramadi, Iraq, during the Gulf War. She learned how to shoot at the age of nine while living in Finland.
While fighting against the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war and later against ISIS, she would herself teach young girls how to fight. "The young girls are amazing -- they are exhilarated after coming back from the front lines," she told Vice.
"They are very brave, more brave than I could ever have been at their age."But Joanna Palani said she noticed a significant difference between the kinds of fighters she had faced.
"ISIS fighters are very easy to kill," she told Vice. "ISIS fighters are very good at sacrificing their own lives, but Assad's soldiers are very well-trained and they are specialist killing machines."
The case of the so-called "girl who ran away to fight ISIS" is scheduled to be heard in Copenhagen City Court on December 20.
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