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Germany checks identity of young IS 'fighter' captured in Mosul

Youngster captured in Iraqi city could be 16-year-old Linda Wenzel, who left home last year to join IS man in Syria
A photo shows Iraqi soldiers with the captured 16-year-old in Mosul (screengrab)

German security officials are investigating whether a young girl discovered by Iraqi forces in Mosul is a 16-year-old German who disappeared from her home a year ago.

Die Welt newspaper said "Linda W" had been captured with four women during military operations to liberate the city from the Islamic State (IS) group.

The group was reportedly hiding in a tunnel in the Old City on Saturday. Some members wore suicide belts and carried guns, although it is not known whether the youngster was armed.

Authorities are now trying to confirm whether the girl is Linda Wenzel, from the town of Pulsnitz near Dresden.

Wenzel had left Germany last year after posing as her mother and flying from Frankfurt to Turkey, before making her way into Syria.

According to Syrian rebel sources talking to Bild, Linda entered rebel-controlled Idlib province by the Bab al-Hawa border crossing.

After arriving, she spent several days in the province before the militant group Jund al-Aqsa came and claimed her as one of their own.

Jund al-Aqsa has repeatedly been accused of being an IS front and it is believed that the militants helped smuggle her into IS territory where she planned to meet an IS member whom she had met on the internet and reportedly began a romantic relationship with.

A photo comparing the 16-year-old with missing Yazidi girl Nidal Khalid Kourou, taken by the Yazidi girl's uncle (BasNews)

Friends reported that, before leaving Germany, Linda had begun learning Arabic, taken the Quran to school and dressed in conservative Islamic dress. 

She had also come under the observation of German security services who suspected she may have been plotting to carry out crimes in Germany.

"In her room they found a print of a plane ticket to Istanbul under the mattress," said Linda's mother shortly after her disappearance. "I was shocked, my daughter has never stolen or lied about anything before."

"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."

Shortly after her capture in a tunnel in Mosul on Saturday, Linda's story became even more confused after it was initially alleged that she was the missing daughter of an Iraqi Yazidi family who had been kidnapped by IS, Nidal Khalid Kourou.

However, the Kurdish BasNews website then reported that, despite the resemblance between the two of them, Linda was not the Yazidi girl.

A German foreign ministry source said on Tuesday the ministry was seeking information on the nationality of the five women captured in Mosul, adding that anybody with a German passport would be offered consular assistance.

An Iraqi official said he believed the teenager arrested was not German but of Slavic origin, possibly Russian.

He said she had been taken to a hospital for burns and was in the custody of Iraqi security services, adding that they would likely hand her over to her country's diplomatic mission and not keep her in Iraq.

However, a senior Iraqi judge told the Telegraph earlier this year that all foreign members of IS would be tried in Iraqi courts.

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