German jihadi child bride goes on trial for aiding crimes against humanity

By Thomas Brooke
4 Min Read

A German woman who fled her homeland at the age of 15 to join ISIS will go on trial today in Germany, where she faces charges of aiding and abetting crimes against humanity.

Leonara Messing made headlines back in 2015 when she abandoned her life as the daughter of a German baker in the central town of Sangerhausen to join up with the Islamic death cult in Syria.

The jihadi child bride became the third wife of a fellow German national within the terror cell’s ranks, Martin Lemke, also known as Nihad Abu Yasir, and shared a home with him in the caliphate’s de facto capital of Raqqa.

She now stands in the dock at a German court in the eastern city of Halle, accused of being part of a human trafficking operation for the terrorist organization.

Leonara Messing pictured with her father (Source: private).

Prosecutors allege that Messing aided and abetted human trafficking during her time in Syria, and was privy to her husband’s purchase of a 33-year-old Yazidi woman, later selling her for an alleged €773.

She reportedly spent much of her time among the caliphate spying on German women who had defected to ISIS, ensuring that they were settling in and reporting her findings back to their husbands.

Messing remained in Syria up until December 2020 when she was controversially repatriated to Germany following the fall of the ISIS. Upon her arrival at Frankfurt Airport, she was arrested by authorities on suspicion of membership in the terror group and crimes against humanity.

Despite reportedly boasting to her father about the lavish gold jewelry she was gifted on her wedding day by Abu Yasir, she changed her tune upon the fall of the caliphate, and in an interview with the BBC at the al-Hol humanitarian camp in northeastern Syria in December 2019, Messing presented the image of a woman full of regret for her life choices.

“I was a half-year in ISIS and I asked my father if he can help me to send a smuggler to bring me out. They sent a smuggler but security from ISIS, they killed him. And then they caught me also because they found pictures of me on his phone. And then I was locked up first time in prison [in Raqqa] and then a second time in [the village of] Shaafa,” she told journalists.

Messing, who gave birth to two daughters by her Islamic husband, told reporters how she gave birth alone. “There was no doctors, no nurses. I send my husband out. I was crying. I said you search. He said there is nobody.”

She is among one of 1,150 Islamists who fled Germany for Syria and Iraq since 2011, but her young age and upbringing raised major public concerns about how a 15-year-old girl from rural Germany was able to become radicalized and make the decision to join a proscribed terrorist organization.

The trial of Leonara Messing, now 21, will take place behind closed doors and is expected to last until at least mid-May.

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