EXCLUSIVE: Mother of Aussie ‘IS Bride’ reveals herself in desperate plea for daughter, grandchildren

Ozlem Coskun, the mother of infamous Australian ‘IS Bride’ Zehra Duman, is pleading with the Australian Government to bring her daughter and grandchildren home from Al-Hol Camp.

The last time Ozlem spoke with Dateline, it was under the moniker “Ossie” as she was not ready to share her identity.

But events in the last few days have prompted her to come forward more forcefully, and to share never-before-seen photos of her grandchildren.

Life in the Al-Hol camp is grim and dangerous; and with no assurances that Zehra and her children will be allowed to come back to Australia, Ozlem reveals that Zehra has expressed suicidal thoughts, “she just said that she can’t handle living like that anymore.”

Zehra has two children. Jarrad, nearly four, and Layla, eleven months.

Ozlem shares that Layla fell sick in the camp, “No food no medicine her daughter [who] had lost extremely a lot of weight and was very sick, had diarrhea, they had no doctors there and they would just say let them die.

“When she’d go for help because her baby was practically dying and they would just say let it die. They don’t care.”

Earlier this week, Ozlem received another message from Zehra: that she’d been taken into some kind of detention within the camp, along with her children.

SBS has not been able verify Zehra’s detention or her condition within the camp.

The news has Ozlem alarmed, and spurred her into her decision to speak out.

“I hadn’t heard from her for months and reading up on the Al- Hol camp, how dangerous it is there.”  

“So I want to speak about it today so it’s heard.

“And then if anything does happen to her well then I’ve talked about it I’m not hiding away.”

Ozlem believes her daughter is the victim of radical brainwashing, which she believes took place at a suburban Melbourne Islamic Centre.

She is convinced her daughter should be returned to Australia where authorities and experts can learn about what happened to her, and prevent it from happening to someone else.

“I wouldn’t want anybody to be in my shoes,” she explains, “or anybody’s child to be in my daughter’s shoes and I think we need to try and understand what’s happened.”

Ms Duman, then aged 18, travelled to Syria from Melbourne in late 2014. 

She married Mahmoud Abdullatif, the infamous extremist who traded-in his Melbourne party-boy lifestyle to fight for IS in 2015.

Zehra says her son Jarrad is fathered by infamous Australian jihadi Mahmoud Abdullatif, who was reportedly killed in 2015.

Ozlem also claims that Zehra’s daughter is the child of an Australian citizen, which has not been verified.

Soon after, Zehra changed her name to Umm Abdullatif, and it is under this nickname that it’s believed she ran a very active twitter account which included images of herself and other niqab-clad women clutching rifles and holding IS flags.

Rodger Shanahan from the Lowy Institute warns it may be difficult to rehabilitate Zehra Duman if she is allowed back to Australia.

“Zehra Duman obviously supports IS, she recruited people to build Islamic State, she was part of an organization that was brutal to the Syrian and Iraqis and that declared war on Australia and other Western countries.

“I think it’s really an issue about what kind of influence she has on people if she was brought back here.”

But Ozlem also believes the Australian government has a duty to bring her daughter and grandchildren home.

When asked what she would say to Australian citizens who say that joining a group like the Islamic State have forfeited their right to come back, Ozlem explains, “I’d probably feel the same. I’d think ‘ah well, you know, she’s done her dash, sort of thing’ but it doesn’t’ work that way as a mother.”

Asked if the government was looking into the matter, and whether Zehra could, or should return to Australia, a spokesperson for Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton replied: “We do not comment on individual cases.”

Previously, the government has indicated that it was "determined to deal with these people as far from our shores as possible".

Mr Shanahan believes it could be some time yet before a decision is made on her and her children’s future.

“Because she has a couple of children, the government will have to determine what the paternity of the children are because you need to understand what the paternity is in order to understand what your national responsibilities might be to the children,” he says.

Ozlem is hoping that the Australian Government will, at the very least, bring her two young grandchildren home.

 “They’re innocent. I don’t want them remembering that they were in a camp. You don’t want your child or grandkids to grow up asking questions about where they have been. I want them to have a normal life a healthy life like Zehra had.”

Dateline is an Australian award-winning international documentary series. Each week Dateline scours the globe to bring you a world of daring stories. Read more about Dateline
Have a story or comment? Contact Us

Dateline is an Australian award-winning international documentary series. Each week Dateline scours the globe to bring you a world of daring stories.
Watch nowOn Demand
Follow Dateline
5 min read
Published 5 September 2019 at 2:35pm
By Marcus Costello, Naima Brown, Lin Evlin