Eleven-year-old boy kidnapped by ISIS mother returns to Italy after five years

The woman made her son take part in ISIS training, saying she wanted to turn him into a "martyr."

A MEMBER of ISIS waves the group’s flag in Raqqa (photo credit: REUTERS)
A MEMBER of ISIS waves the group’s flag in Raqqa
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An 11-year-old boy who was kidnapped by his ISIS-supporting mother returned to Italy after five years in Syria on Friday.
Alvin Berisha was born in the Lecco province in northern Italy from Albanian parents. As reported by the Italian daily, Corriere della Sera, in 2014 his mother Valbona left her husband and two eldest daughters to join the Islamic State, after being radicalized via the internet.
She took six-year-old Alvin with her.
According to a 2016 report by Corriere, she changed the name of the boy to Yusuf and had him circumcised. She also made him train to become a fighter, training which she herself undertook. Her purpose, she said, was to turn the boy into a "martyr."
Since she brought a cellphone with her, Italian authorities investigating her case were able to track her movements for a certain period. Alvin was also able to call his father, Afrim, in Italy a couple of times. "Mom is dressed like a ninja," he once said.
Earlier this year, the boy was located in the Al Hol camp, a facility maintained by the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces where some 70,000 ISIS-affiliated prisoners ended up, with around 90% women and children. According to the Wall Street Journal, thousands of them have European citizenship and several detainees managed to escape during Turkey's recent offensive in the area.
In the meantime, Valbona Berisha was killed, possibly in an explosion and Alvin was left alone.
The Rome-based daily La Repubblica reported that the operation to bring the boy home was carried out by the Italian authorities with the cooperation of the International Red Cross and the Red Crescent and the Albanian authorities.
In a video published by La Repubblica, Alvin, sporting a red baseball cap is reunited with his father at Rome's Fiumicino airport.
According to Italian media, Alvin has forgotten Italian, but he is physically in relative good conditions.
"Dad, I'm coming," the boy told his father on the phone before boarding the plane that would fly him back to Rome.
"The people who are with you are dad's friends, don't be scared," Afrim responded.