A grandmother's desperate journey to rescue her children from ISIS | This week on FOUR CORNERS
Orphans of ISIS: A grandmother’s desperate journey to rescue her children and bring them home.
“Just because their last name is Sharrouf, (it) doesn’t mean they are monsters.” Karen Nettleton.
On Monday Four Corners exclusively brings you the story of the Sharrouf children and their grandmother’s epic fight to find them and bring them home to Australia.
“I’d never thought I’d be in this situation ever. I mean trying to get children out of Syria. I’m just a grandma from the suburbs.” Karen Nettleton.
If there was one family that represented the alarming tide of Australians flocking to the black flag of Islamic State, it was the Sharroufs. The children of the notorious jihadist Khaled Sharrouf were taken to the self-declared caliphate in 2014. The world learned of them after their father published pictures of his eldest son holding the severed head of an IS prisoner, sending shockwaves around the world.
“This image… is really one of the most disturbing, stomach-turning, grotesque photographs ever displayed - of a seven-year-old child holding a severed head up with pride and with the support and encouragement of a parent.” Then US Secretary of State, John Kerry.
For five years their grandmother, Karen Nettleton, has been trying to reach the children and bring them home.
“She is not going to give up. She once said ‘Don’t underestimate this nanna’. And sure as day follows night, no matter how depressed and upset she is, she picks herself up.” Robert Van Aalst, lawyer.
She has mounted several rescue missions, with each one ending in failure. Now, in Syria, she’s making a last-ditch effort to save them from a squalid refugee camp.
“I just hope today is the day I get them. If not, I will try again tomorrow and the next day because I’m not going home without them.” Karen Nettleton.
Reporter Dylan Welch and producer Suzanne Dredge have documented the family’s experience for four years, travelling with the children’s grandmother as she tries to convince the authorities in Syria and Australia to release the family into her care and allow them to return home.
“Are my children a risk to Australia? Absolutely not, absolutely not. No way.”
What happened to this family over the years they lived in the IS caliphate has remained untold. Now on Four Corners, you will see and hear their story.