The trial of a German woman who moved to Syria as a teen to join the terror group, Daesh, has begun this week, with the charges against her consisting of human trafficking and the aiding and abetting of crimes against humanity.
As a 15-year-old, Leonora Messing fled Germany for the Daesh-controlled territories in Syria in March 2015, arriving in the group's capital, Raqqa, where she became the third wife of another German national – Martin Lemke – who was fighting for the militia.
According to her father, Maik Messing, who spoke to German media in 2019, "She was a good student" and "used to go to a retirement home to read to the elderly. She took part in the carnival as a majorette. That was when a lot of the people we know saw her for the last time."
While in Syria, she and her husband reportedly participated in the enslavement and trafficking of the persecuted Yazidis under Daesh, buying and selling a 33-year-old Yazidi woman.
Following the territorial and military defeat of Daesh in 2019 by the international coalition, Messing was detained with her and Lemke's two young daughters in one of the detention camps in north-eastern Syria which are controlled by the Kurdish militias.
She was then repatriated back to Germany in December 2020, when she was arrested at Frankfurt airport and then released.
On charges of taking part in crimes against humanity, Messing's trial started yesterday and is set to last until at least mid-May.