When most people in Europe are 22, they’re finishing their studies and most likely eyeing up a serious job – looking forward to the adult mundanity of life. But not Joanna Palani, no. This girl from Denmark spends her days fighting ISIS.
Studying politics in Copenhagen, Joanna decided to give up her life as a college student and move to Iraq to fight with Kurdish forces against the so called Islamic State.
According to Broadly, Joanna already knew how to shoot a gun so when she went over to the Middle East she spent a full year on the frontline experiencing the disturbing horror of war.
She did add, however, that Daesh fighters are ‘very easy to kill’ while laughing, adding ‘ISIS fighters are very good at sacrificing their own lives, but Assad’s soldiers are very well-trained and they are specialist killing machines.’
After leaving college in 2014, Joanna made the perilous journey to Iraq before later moving onto Syria where she fought with the YPG and the Peshmerga.
You have to give it to her though. Fighting for ‘human rights for all people’ Joanna wasn’t put off after she witnessed a truly horrific sight on her first night on the front line – her comrade being shot dead by a sniper who had noticed his cigarette smoke.
She was forced to helplessly watch the Swedish fighter die, his blood spraying over her new uniform.
Having learned to fire a gun aged just nine, she also started training young Kurdish fighters, many of whom stunned her with their bravery in the face of possible death.
As she did, she received horrific letters from girls in captivity, describing how they had been brutally raped by fighters and were desperate to escape.
Hopefully someday there will be an end to this horror.
Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.