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Russian student who pursued IS lover to Syria risks jail

SAMAA | - Posted: Dec 8, 2016 | Last Updated: 5 years ago
Posted: Dec 8, 2016 | Last Updated: 5 years ago

MOSCOW: Russian prosecutors on Thursday demanded a five-year jail sentence for a 21-year-old student who tried to enter Syria after falling in love with an Islamic State fighter.

Varvara Karaulova is on trial in the high-profile case after she was detained last year as she tried to cross into war-torn Syria while still a philosophy undergraduate at the renowned Moscow State University.

She was charged with preparing to participate in a “terrorist organisation”, but has pleaded not guilty, saying she was motivated by love for a Russian jihadist fighting in Syria.

The prosecutor asked for the five-year term, arguing that Karaulova needed to be isolated from society because of the “public danger” she represented.

He argued she could have become a sniper or suicide bomber, although the defence team described this as speculation.

In 2012, while still a teenager, she met a man named Airat Samatov online and they wrote to each for three years without ever meeting. He went to Syria in 2014 and told her he was fighting in the Islamic State group.

Karaulova converted to Islam and began wearing a hijab.

She disappeared without warning in May 2015, prompting a frantic search by her parents. It turned out she had flown to Turkey and travelled to the border with other women hoping to join men fighting for IS.

Turkish border guards detained the group and she was forced to fly back to Russia with her father.

Russian security forces questioned her on arrival but did not charge her until November that year.  – AFP

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