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The 23-Year-Old College Student Who Ran Away To Fight ISIS

It's hard for the average civilian to imagine having killed one person in combat, let alone over 100, but imagine having that record as a 23-years-old college student.

That's Joanna Palani's strange but true story- the student from Copenhagen, who is of Iranian-Kurdish descent, dropped out of college in 2014 to "fight for human rights for all people."

She fought the Assad regime and ISIS in Syria as part of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and Peshmerga, and claims to have killed over 100 ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria.

She also helped liberate enslaved Yazidi girls in northern Iraq, a cause close to her heart as a Kurdish woman:

Palani gushes with pride about her role as a trainer for mainly younger, Kurdish fighters. "The young girls are amazing—they are exhilarated after coming back from the front lines. They are very brave, more brave than I could ever have been at their age."

But the Danish government wasn't impressed, and when Joanna returned home from the fighting  in 2015 they revoked her passport via email:

"The Peshmerga gave me 15 days off, " she explains. "After arriving in Denmark the police sent me an email after only three days. It said my passport was no longer valid, and would be revoked if I was to attempt to leave the country. If I was to go back I could go to jail for six years."

Now Joanna is facing years in jail after admitting traveling to Qatar in June of 2016, and instead of being treated like a hero she is being prosecuted like a terrorist.

Read The Girl Who Ran Away To Fight ISIS here and Danish Woman Who Fought Against ISIS Faces Jail Sentence here


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It's a tricky situation... Countries can't allow their citizens to go fight wars for others, with no official sanction, then flee back to the safety of their home country at will. It could drag her home country into a war they don't want. And consider what if an opposition soldier makes it to Copenhagen and murders her, but claims it as a valid wartime battle, not murder... Making the country a legitimate battlefield and individuals immune from criminal prosecution under the Geneva convention.
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