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A confusing assignment: The story of a Sudanese doctor working for ISIS

Published: Updated:

The appearance of the Sudanese woman accused of belonging to the ISIS extremist group, who appeared carrying her baby in a video released by the Kurdish authorities controlling swathes of northeastern Syria, may evoke mixed emotions among her family members.

They may be happy to see her alive, but would be reminded of her deceased brother who encouraged her to join in ISIS in 2015.

The Sudanese woman - who is a doctor - and her baby were handed over to a Sudanese diplomat in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli last Thursday.

The Sudanese Security and Intelligence apparatus said that it succeeded in freeing Dr. Nada Sami Saad from the clutches of the extremist group.

In the press conference last week, the Kurdish authorities said that the Sudanese doctor enrolled in ISIS was among 550 women and her baby was among 1500 children from 44 nationalities, detained in a camp south al-Malikiah town in Syria.

She was detained on January 10, and last Thursday she was handed over to the Sudanese embassy in Syria, based on her request. Read more

Though the ending of her story might seem a happy one for the woman who studied medicine in a prestigious private university, it actually shows a sad reality of 17 other stories related to students recruited by ISIS, most of them died in battles, while some are still in detention or unaccounted for.

The beginning of Nada's story

According to Hadi Mouhamed al-Amin, a journalist focusing on extremist groups, Nada traveled among the second batch of students who graduated from the Medicine and Technology University in Sudan, along with 17 others to enroll in ISIS.

Amin said: “This batch of recruits is strange as it included a number of siblings from the same family. In addition to Nada and her brother, there were lujain, Tamer Ahmed Abu, Ebrahim Adel Aqeed and his brother Mohamed Adel Aqeed, Hamza Serar and his brother Mohamed.”

Amin further added that it was not clear how the organization managed to penetrate the private university, which includes students of foreign passport holders.

He said that the Sudanese government accused a British student of Palestinian origin named Mohammed Fakhri al-Gabas- enrolled in the private medical university in 2008 and graduated in 2013- that he recruited students through Skype.