One of two young Austrian women who travelled to Syria to fight with Islamic extremists has reportedly been killed just months after arriving in the country.
Sabina Selimovic, 15, and Samra Kesinovic, 16, both the daughters of immigrant families from Bosnia, left their homes in Vienna in April with the apparent intention of fighting for Syrian rebels.
They are thought to have travelled to Turkey and then to have crossed the border into Syria, having become radicalised after attending a local mosque in Vienna and reading about jihad on the internet.
They posted on social media photographs of themselves handling assault weapons and wearing black, full length burkas.
But Austrian authorities now think one of them – they have so far refused to divulge which one – may have been killed during fighting.
“The parents of the girl concerned have been informed that there is a risk that their daughter is dead,” said Konrad Kogler, the director-general of public security for Austrian police.
Alexander Marakovits, a spokesman for the Austrian interior ministry, told The Salzburger News: “We also have this information, but cannot say with absolute certainty that it is true. But the parents have been informed their daughter could be dead.”
Austrian authorities fear that the two teenagers’ example is inspiring other young, radicalised Muslim women to travel to Syria and volunteer to fight.
In Germany, meanwhile, an alleged jihadist went on trial on Monday, accused of fighting in Syria for Isil.
In the first German criminal proceedings involving Isil, Kreshnik Berisha, a 20-year-old born near Frankfurt to a family from Kosovo, has been charged with membership of a foreign terrorist organisation.
He could face 10 years in prison if convicted by the city’s superior regional court.
Berisha is believed to have become radicalised when he fell in with a group of Muslim fundamentalists while on a job training programme.
Federal prosecutors say Berisha travelled to Syria via Turkey in July 2013 with other Islamists planning to join the fight to create an Islamist “caliphate” straddling Syria and Iraq.
Soon after his arrival, Berisha allegedly underwent firearms training and was put to work as a medic and a guard.
In the six months he spent in Syria, he is believed to have fought in at least three battles on the side of the jihadists against President Bashar al-Assad’s troops.
He returned home for reasons that are unclear to German authorities in Dec 2013 and was arrested at Frankfurt airport.
Authorities estimate around 400 German nationals have travelled to Iraq and Syria to battle for the militants.