Former Isil bride living freely in Hamburg

Justin Huggler
Women in a Syrian displacement camp - REUTERS

A former Isil bride who was married to one of the jihadist group’s senior leaders has returned to Germany and is living freely in Hamburg, it has emerged.

Omaima Abdi was married to Dennis Cuspert, a former rapper also known as Deso Dogg who was Isil’s chief German spokesman until his death in January 2018.

She was tracked down in Hamburg by an Arabic television news channel, which also broadcast mobile phone pictures in which she is seen carrying a gun in Syria and posing with Cuspert.

The 34-year-old Abdi now lists her occupation on Linked In as translator and event manager and reportedly no longer wears a hijab or headscarf.

In a case that is bound to be compared to that of the British Isil bride Shamima Begum, questions are being asked over how Ms Abdi was able to return to Germany without being detained and why she has not faced any prosecution for her time with Isil. 

Ms Abdi was traced in Hamburg by Jenan Moussa, a Lebanese reporter for Dubai’s al-Aan television network. In her report, Ms Moussa said she was passed data obtained data from the former Isil bride's mobile phone by an unnamed party.

As well as extensive images from her time in Syria, the phone data included an address in Hamburg where Ms Abdi still lives.

“I couldn’t imagine anyone with her story was running around freely in Germany,” Ms Moussa, who has not commented on how she obtained the phone data, told Germany’s Spiegel magazine. 

German prosecutors on Tuesday declined to comment publicly on the case or confirm whether Ms Abdi had ever been under investigation.

But according to unconfirmed German media reports they have wanted to build a case against her for some time but have been unable to uncover sufficient evidence.

Under German law, Isil brides cannot be prosecuted unless it can be proved they also took part in the jihadist group’s activities.

The mobile phone photographs obtained by al-Aan television and published for the first time include images of Ms Abdi wearing a gun while she visited a restaurant in an Isil-controlled part of Syria.

They also include images of her son, who was a toddler at the time, dressed in Isil fatigues and playing with a handgun, as well as images of Ms Abdi sharing family life with Cuspert, who was a senior figure in Isil.

Disturbingly, they also include propaganda images of heavily armed jihadist fighters superimposed on pictures of the Eiffel Tower and the Reichstag building in Berlin.

It remains unclear whether the new images are enough to mount a prosecution against Ms Abdi. According to German media reports, she is constantly monitored by the country’s intelligence services.

Moussa tracked down details of Ms Abdi’s life and how she came to be an Isil bride, including how she was married to two senior Isil figures who both died and left her a widow.

Born in Germany to a family of Tunisian heritage, Ms Abdi first began to show signs of radicalisation in 2011. In 2012 she travelled to Frankfurt where she met a number of Islamic extremists including Nader Hadra, who she married later the same year.

Hadra later travelled to Syria to join Isil, and in January 2015 Ms Abdi flew out with her children to be reunited with him, travelling via Turkey.

It is clear the German authorities were aware of the move. The mobile phone images include a picture of a letter from the German social security office in March 2015 informing Ms Abdi that her benefits had been ended because she had “moved to a foreign country (Syria)”.

Hadra was killed just six weeks after Ms Abdi’s arrival in Syria during the battle for Kobane. She later became close to Cuspert, who had been a friend of Hadra’s and the two married in 2015.

Ms Abdi left Syria in 2016 and returned to Germany. The reason for her return is not clear.