It is hard to forget the above face of the 10-year-old American boy who appeared in an ISIS video threatening the U.S. and President Trump less than a year ago. Now his mother has spoken out, saying the boy, who was known as “Yusuf” in the video, is really Matthew and that he was forced to appear in the the video.
The family, now in Kurdish detention, was found by filmmaker Joshua Baker who recognized the boy from the video.
Matthew’s mother Sam, married Moussa El Hassani from Turkey, in Indiana in 2011. Sam says the family lived a normal, happy life. She describes Moussa as a loving father and good provider who, after five years became “bored” with his life. He took the family on a trip to Turkey — a trip Sam believed was to visit his country of birth. But Moussa surprised her and forced the family over the Syrian border to join ISIS.
“We ended up in Raqqa,” she says. “The first thing I say to him is, ‘You’re crazy and I’m leaving,’ and he said, with a big smile on his face, ‘Go ahead. You can try, but you won’t make it.’”
Sam says she was tortured after trying to find a smuggler to help her escape. She said her husband kept two Yazidi girls in their house as slaves and repeatedly raped them.
Moussa was killed last year in a strike on Raqqa shortly before the city fell to coalition forces.
Was Sam tricked by her radicalized husband? Watch the following clip with her in the Kurdish prison where she and her children are being held: (The full Frontline/BBC documentary will air soon on PBS)