This is the moment a grandmother’s five year search for her grandchildren came to an end as she embraced them in a Syrian refugee camp.
It was the first time Karen Nettleton, 58, had seen them since they were taken to join ISIS by their mother who married a notorious terrorist.
As she cries against her grandmother’s chest, Hoda, 16, says ‘I can’t believe this is happening. I can’t believe I’m here with you. I’m pretty sure I’m dreaming.’
Zaynad, Hoda and Humzeh Sharrouf were taken to join the death cult by their mum Tara Nettleton who married Khaled Sharrouf, on of Australia’s most notorious ISIS militants.
Their mum is thought to have died aged 31 in 2015 from appendicitis related complications and their dad was killed in an airstrike in 2017 with their brothers Abdullah, 12, and Zarqawi, 11.
One of the sons was forced to hold a severed head of a Syrian soldier for a picture which Khaled posted online.
Karen, from Sydney, was separated from her family during a holiday in Malaysia when Tara said she wanted to travel on to Turkey to see the sights, ABC reports.
She said she would be back in a couple of months and kissed her mum goodbye before heading off to war-torn Syria.
Karen stayed in touch with the family over messaging apps and flew to Turkey twice to try to arrange their safe passage out Syria to no avail.
‘I need to have my children back. They deserve to come back here. They deserve to be here and happy and safe and have food and be able to walk down the street, be normal,’ she said.
The 58-year-old couldn’t believe it when Hoda called her to tell her she was in the al-Hawl refugee camp – the same place Shamima Begum was discovered after fleeing the UK in 2015.
She also got a call from Zaynab who said she was on her way to the camp after being processed by authorities.
Karen travelled to the camp of more than 72,000 people and asked as many people as she could if they had seen her long-lost grandchildren before she was directed to the camp’s Australian section.
Half an hour into her emotional and tearful reunion with Hoda and Humzeh, Zaynab turned up to greet her long lost grandmother.
Australian officials say the children will be able to return to Australia under their grandmother’s care although it is not known how long this will take.