A student in Denmark dropped out of college to join Kurdish peshmerga troops in Iraq and the anti-ISIS YPG militia in Syria, racking up 100 ISIS kills, but when she returned home, the way she was treated was not the way a hero should be treated.
Joanna Palani was born in an Iraqi refugee camp in 1993 to Iranian Kurdish parents. The family moved to Denmark when Palani was only three years old. Finally getting a true taste of freedom, Palani knew that if threatened she would stand on the right side and fight back.
Palanai initially went to Syria “to fight for women’s rights, for democracy – for the European values I learned as a Danish girl,” she told The U.K. Guardian last year.
After the 23-year-old sniper had racked up an impressive kill list, she returned home — only to be treated as if she were a terrorist. Palani violated the country’s travel ban to the war-torn region and because of it had her passport confiscated and was briefly jailed upon returning home in 2015.
“I am seen as a terrorist by my own country,” Palani stated. But that didn’t stop her from heading back out to the war-torn region to kill more terrorists during a five-month tour of duty.
“ISIS fighters are very easy to kill,” Palani told Vice last year.
“ISIS want to kill me, and capture me to convert me into a radical Islamist or turn me into a sex slave,” Palani said. “My worries about being captured and killed are not as great as my love of freedom. I will keep trying to show them that I am a liberated and independent woman. This is how I will defeat them.”
Now home for good, Palani, who once freed women and girls who were being held as sex slaves and taught them to fight back, said she felt more scared in her own country: “I live in one of the best countries in the world, but I am hungry and homeless and freezing cold in bed at night, even though I am working full-time. I don’t trust anyone.”
Palani said that not only does she feel hunted by ISIS operatives, who have put a $1 million “dead or alive” bounty on her head, but she also fears Danish authorities who could punish her for violating the travel ban again.
This is a woman who fights for freedom, even when freedom is failing her. This woman should be hailed a hero instead of branded a terrorist for defying the travel ban to fight a war against Islamic State terrorists.
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