Mariam Dabboussy was not a devout Muslim but her life changed at 22 when she married Kaled Zahab (pictured). The woman who had been a childcare and migrant support worker went to the Middle East in mid-2015 with her husband and their 18-month-old child
Mariam Dabboussy was not a devout Muslim, but her life changed at age 22 when she married Kaled Zahab.
The woman, who had been a childcare and migrant support worker in Sydney, went to the Middle East in mid-2015 with her husband and their 18-month-old child.
Ms Dabboussy travelled to Lebanon with her husband only to be ‘tricked’ into going to Syria, she said.
It started off as a normal holiday,’ Ms Dabboussy said.
‘My husband had never left the country at the time. So, it was the first time he had agreed to take me overseas.
‘We had a really nice holiday planned. We went to Malaysia, took me to Dubai, we went to Lebanon.’
Ms Dabboussy was initially taken from Lebanon to a house in southern Turkey near the Syria border.
From there, she was driven to a dusty patch of land.
‘There was other people there and there was… there was a man there,’ she said.
‘And he started telling us, ”Run before they shoot, ‘Run before they start shooting.” And we didn’t know what was going on.’
Kamalle Dabboussy warned it could be just days before it’s too late to get Mariam (pictured) and the three minors – aged one, three and five – out of Syria’s Al-Hawl camp
‘I looked around, I’m thinking, ”What am I going to do?” I’m in the middle of nowhere, I don’t even know where I am. There’s gunshots. Now I just started running.’
She didn’t get far, with men bundling her into a car and taking her to a house, which had a black Islamic State flag.
‘When I entered that house and I saw a flag, I saw a flag and I sort of asked around,’ Ms Dabboussy said.
‘Some women, they spoke very broken Arabic, they didn’t really speak. They were sort of surprised I didn’t know what was going on. Some of them laughed at me.
The man Ms Dabboussy married is now dead, after being killed by a coalition airstrike three months later.
The mother-of-three has since been forced to remarry twice more and claims life has only gotten harder.