An 8-year-old orphan who was born in America and grew up under ISIS rule may be put up for adoption when she returned to the United States.
US Diplomat Peter Galbraith, who helped rescue Aminah Mohamad from a refugee camp in Syria, told DailyMail.com: ‘Once a child is rescued, appropriate authorities will determine a placement that is in the best interest of the child.’
The youngster’s grandparents, aunt and uncle live in the US, although it remains unclear if she will be returned to their custody.
They have declined to comment publicly on the death of Aminah’s mom Ariel Bradley, or on the rescue of Aminah, which was first revealed earlier this week.
Aminah’s mom Ariel Bradley grew up a strict Evangelical Christian, but later rebelled against her devout upbringing. She became a drug-taking anti-climate change protester, before converting to Islam after taking up with an Iraqi refugee based in Sweden.
The youngster had been living under ISIS rule since her parents joined the terrorist organization in 2014. Her parents were killed in a hospital airstrike in 2018 that left Aminah injured. She was then sent to a Kurdish-controlled detention camp for people with ties to the Islamic State.
Aminah was rescued from the facility on July 17 after a Canadian woman who has since denounced her ties to the terrorist organization managed to alert former US diplomat Peter Galbraith of her condition.
She is currently being held at a secure location in northeast Syria and is waiting confirmation that she can return to the states, at which point authorities will determine the best placement for her.
Aminah Mohamad, 8, was reportedly rescued from a Syrian camp after she was left in the care of one of her step-father’s other wives, a devout ISIS supporter. Authorities are not releasing an unmuzzed photo of the girl in effort to protect her safety/wellbeing
While in Camp Roj, a Syrian detention center, a group of Somali women living together took steps to hide Aminah from the Kurdish guards, who would regularly search for orphans.
According to Galbraith, the women would dress Aminah up in long robes and a niqab to conceal her identity and race, since her caretaker was black and she was white, even though it is not part of the Muslim faith for children to wear niqabs.
Galbraith, who dealt with the Kurds for the United States government and has spent the past three years trying to repatriate women and children from the detention camps, was alerted of Aminah’s condition after successfully rescued another family.
He told DailyMail.com that he visited the camp in November 2019 after a German woman asked him to help rescue her children from the facility.
When he successfully repatriated that family, his contact information spread through the camp, reaching a Canadian woman who was crucial to Aminah’s rescue.
The woman used Kurdish authorities to alert Galbraith of Aminah’s situation and he decided he needed to free her.
‘I didn’t know if I could get Aminah out,’ Galbraith said. ‘I want to give credit to the Canadian woman – without her courage in terms of identifying Aminah and saying where she is, we wouldn’t have been able to get her out.’
‘She risked her life to save this child,’ he added.
On July 17, a team of SDF soldiers descended on the Somali enclave and retrieved Aminah. It is unclear what happened in the raid.
The 8-year-old is currently in a safe location and waiting to hear if she can return to the United States, Buzzfeed reported.
Peter Galbraith, a former United States diplomat who worked with the Kurds, has spent the past three years trying to repatriate women and children from the detention camps
The repatriation process, which is handled by the U.S. Department of State, involves a DNA confirmation of identity before Aminah can be brought home. Afterwards, authorities will work to determine a placement that is in her best interest.
‘Aminah has been through things that no child should ever go through – war, hunger, the deaths of her mother, father and stepfather, being hidden away. She will need a lot of supports, psychological and material,’ Galbraith, who is not involved in the placement process, explained.
The state department did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment, a spokesman told BuzzFeed, the country’s official policy is to: ‘repatriate, prosecute when appropriate, rehabilitate when possible and reintegrate their foreign terrorist fighter nationals and associated family members currently living in northeast Syria and Iraq.’
Galbraith added that he had broken the news of Ariel’s death to her family in 2020.
‘I contacted Ariel’s sister, Dara McIntyre, a year ago when I learned of [Ariel’s] death. I tried calling and messaging her on Facebook. She never responded,’ he said.
Bradley’s brother also questioned the whereabouts of her son, saying he didn’t even know the child’s name. He declined to comment on possible custody for Aminah.
According to Buzzfeed, Bradley had three children: Aminah, Yaqub and Yousef, who was killed in the same airstrike that took Bradley’s life. Yaqub’s whereabouts remain unknown.
Aminah’s mom, Ariel Bradley, grew up in a devout Christian household in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and converted to Islam in 2011
Bradley, who grew up in poverty, was homeschooled by her mother with a curriculum based on the beliefs of the Pentecostal Church of God, according to the Herald-Sun. She had several gaps in her knowledge, such as not learning to read until she was a pre-teen and never obtaining a high school diploma or GED.
As she aged, Bradley grew embarrassed of her mother’s evangelism, became an atheist and denounced religion as a ‘delusion.’ She ran away from the family home around age 16 and spent the next decade bouncing between relationships, homes, and religion.
‘Not to throw her under the bus or anything, but she was definitely always looking for love, always looking for that sense of belonging,’ one friend told Buzzfeed in 2015.
‘Her life was a solar system without a star, without a sun,’ another echoed.
Bradley later committed her time to social activism, pushing for racial equality, teachers’ rights and fair housing, while also volunteering with the homeless.
Her friends claim she got tattoos, drank and smoked weed, before developing a crush on a young Muslim man she met while working at a local restaurant.
She then started dressing more modestly, made Muslim friends and wore scarves over her head, and officially converted to Islam in 2011.
As she aged, Bradley (right) grew embarrassed of her mother’s evangelism, became an atheist and denounced religion as a ‘delusion’
Bradley’s (pictured) friends said she often changed her beliefs to match those of ‘whatever guy she was interested in’ at the time
‘The thing about Ariel that was just so weird was that she had a clearly segmented life,’ a friend said after Bradley joined ISIS. ‘It was like when I first met her, she was a Christian, and then she was a socialist, and then she was an atheist and then a Muslim.
‘As far as I could tell it was always in relation to whatever guy she was interested in. So if she meets a guy that’s an atheist, she falls into that for a year. Then the guy leaves and she becomes somebody new and it starts all over again.
‘It seemed like whatever guy she was with, she would just crawl into his skin and kind of become him.’
Bradley started talking to Yasin Mohamad on a dating website that year, and traveled to Sweden to meet him in person in December 2011. They wed during her visit.
Her friends, particularly her Muslim friends, were concerned about the arrangement. Some believed that Mohamad, a refugee from Iraq who was not a Swedish citizen, was using her to obtain American citizenship.
‘Everybody warned her and just said, ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it, you don’t know him, you don’t know anything about his background, you don’t know his family.’ It could be a trick or something,’ a close female Muslim friend told the news outlet.
When she became pregnant, Buzzfeed reports, she returned home to give birth in her hometown, before moving back to Sweden to be with Mohamad and eventually to Syria so Bradley and Mohamad could join ISIS in 2014.
According to Buzzfeed, Aminah was 18-months-old when her family relocated to Syria. At the time, Bradley was pregnant with her second child, Yaqub.
She used social media to document her life inside, Buzzfeed reported at the time, sharing stories about her children and bemoaning the barrage of bombs as she would eat breakfast with her kids.
She reportedly wrote that she would take her kids to the park to play – an adventure that ended with the family watching ISIS propaganda.
Bradley, under the handle @umaminahamrikl, used social media to document her life inside
She would share stories online about her children and bemoaning the barrage of bombs as she would eat breakfast with her kids
Mohamad was reportedly killed in an airstrike in June 2015, and Bradley soon remarried Tareq Kamleh, a devout ISIS follower from Australia. Kamleh and Bradley shared a son, Yousef.
But their marriage did not last long – Bradley, Kamleh and Yousef were killed in 2018 in a hospital airstrike, at which point Aminah was put in the care of one of her step-father’s other wives, a Somali woman who remained devoted to the cause even as the Syrian Democratic Forces gained traction against the terrorist group and rounded up its supporters in detention camps.
According to Galbraith, ‘Aminah was injured in the attack that killed her parents’.
Aminah was reportedly interviewed by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism following her release from the camp.
‘She clearly self-identified as Aminah and talked about her family with deep sadness,’ director Anne Speckhard told Buzzfeed, adding she ‘doesn’t have a clear context as to where she’s from.’
Speckhard said she needs ‘a safe, predictable and loving environment to replace the traumatic one [she] lived under.’
According to the Canadian woman, ‘Children in the camps have the worst start to life. They are already traumatized y losing one or more parents and growing up around violence, poverty and misery.
‘They deal with constant danger, lack of food, lack of education and their lives are simply going to waste.’
Galbraith said he wants to do whatever he can now to ensure that her new life in America will be different from the one she escaped.
He said he wants her to play with other children, attend school and ‘get the counseling and the mental health support she’s clearly going to need.’
‘My ability to do anything is limited,’ Galbraith told Buzzfeed. ‘But I want the people who make the decisions to know where she came from and what she went through.’
Galbraith also managed to secure the release of the Canadian woman, who is now in Iraq waiting to be repatriated to her home country.