A 16-year-old German Islamic State bride, who reportedly joined the jihadist group after being radicalised online, has been captured by Iraqi forces in the ruins of Mosul.
Linda Wenzel, from the small town of Pulsnitz, near Dresden, was discovered by troops with a group of 20 other suspected foreign female Isil members in a tunnel under the Old City on Thursday.
Pictures shared on social media show the girl being escorted by security forces, appearing pale and unveiled but wearing a colourful scarf around her neck.
She appears pale, afraid and covered in dust, unveiled but wearing a colourful scarf around her neck.
She was initially mistaken for a kidnapped Yazidi girl because of her lack of Arabic.
Linda was reported missing from her home a year ago, where she had been living with her mother, Katharina, and step-father, Thomas.
She grew up in a Protestant family, and had not showed any interest in religion until a few months before her disappearance. In the spring of 2016 she told her parents for the first time that she was interested in Islam.
Friends in Pulsnitz say she converted to Islam around this time and was radicalised online in chat rooms. She started learning Arabic, taking the Koran to school, wearing conservative clothing and becoming fascinated with Islam before her disappearance.
Police believe she had fallen in love with a Muslim man she met online who persuaded her to move to Syria to join him.
She disappeared last July after telling her parents she wanted to stay the weekend at a friend’s house.
She travelled to Istanbul posing as her mother Katharina, and then down to Turkey’s border with Syria, where she crossed with the help of an Islamist group aligned with Isil.
The jihadists then handed her over to an Isil fighter who is believed to have groomed her over the internet and convinced her to travel to the group’s so-called caliphate.
Linda is thought to have made it to Mosul before the Iraqi army launched the offensive to retake the city in October.
Until six months before she fled to join Isil, she had never even travelled by train alone.
“I am devastated by the fact that she was apparently completely brainwashed and persuaded to leave the country by someone and that she managed to hide it from me,” Mrs Wenzel said last July.
When she searched her room, Mrs Wenzel found an Islamic prayer mat and a tablet computer with a second Facebook account they did not know about on it.
On this second account Linda was in touch with people in the Middle East and shared messages such as “Pray, the end is approaching”.
“At the moment the priority is to determine whether this is Linda W or not. The police will undertake all necessary investigations,” Lorenz Haase, chief prosecutor and spokesman for the Dresden prosecutor’s office, told the Telegraph.
“If it is confirmed, we would reopen criminal proceedings against her which were set aside. We had set aside the proceedings on the grounds we did not know her whereabouts and she is a minor.
She is understood to have been handed over to American troops stationed in Iraq for questioning.
Four other German women were also reportedly discovered last week in a tunnel system built by Isil.
Iraqi forces say they discovered weapons and suicide belts at the site, presumably to be used for assaults on soldiers.
They were part of a group of 20 female fighters, including Russian, Turkish, Canadian and Chechen, apprehended in the last remaining pocket of Isil territory in Mosul.
(A little girl named Amina was found by Iraqi Army soldiers when they heard her cries from the rubble)
It is not clear whether Linda and the other women will be held in Iraq or deported back to Germany to face trial.
A senior Iraqi judge told the Telegraph earlier this year that foreign members of Isil would be tried in Iraqi courts, however as she is considered a minor they may decide to extradite her.
Only a handful of European Isil members under 18 year of age have ever been detained, most of whom after voluntarily returning home.