'A pattern of professional recruiters' work' – Father of Russian 'ISIS' girl talks to RT
The father of Varvara Karaulova, the Russian philosophy student who was detained while crossing from Turkey into Syria, possibly intending to join Islamic State, told RT that her disappearance looks like the work of professional recruiters.
Pavel Karaulov says he contacted friends abroad as he searched for his daughter, and heard of cases similar to hers: "I spoke to many of my friends and acquaintances, including those abroad... and as I did so, a pattern of professional work of ISIS recruiters all over the world started to become apparent. And the scenario which took place in our case, unfortunately, looks very similar to what had happened in Spain or England."
Karaulov says he discovered a well-honed extremist recruiting machine as he searched for clues. "Some research and information from acquaintances shows this kind of recruitment is done by a group of highly professional people who apparently have training in various fields, including psychology. I managed to acquire their 50-page-long manuals."
When asked if there had been any indications of what was to come in his daughter’s behavior, Karaulov described Varvara as a “straight-A student. She was fluent in English and French." He added, however, that in retrospect, some subtle hints had become more obvious.
"During one of our last conversations, I asked her why she had stopped wearing her cross pendant. She said she had torn the chain during sports training. I didn't seem anything out of the ordinary to me. I just said, 'Let's go buy you a new one over the weekend."
"Now, analyzing the events, I see that perhaps she wanted to say goodbye to me and other relatives," Karaulov said. Varvara did her best to come visit her family and stay with them for long periods of time prior to her disappearance, he said. But he did not pay much attention to it at the time. "Now, looking back at the picture, it could be interpreted as an attempt to say goodbye."
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Varvara did exhibit changes in behavior when she was away from her family, though, and her father says he was astonished that no one had alerted him of those changes: "She left home every day in common clothes, but in university, she put on a hijab - I learned that from her friends and her professors only after she left. It seems awfully strange to me that professors, seeing a Russian child in such clothes, did not ask themselves or the child's parents any questions. And this is the country's best university, a temple of knowledge to which we trust our children."
Varvara's father believes it largely falls to educational institutions to detect behavior that could indicate budding extremism: "There are certain alarm bells that can alert those who are around our children. Of course it is family, friends and classmates. And it is largely the teachers and professors in front of whom our children are most of the time during their studies, six to eight hours a day."
Now that Varvara has been found, her father hopes he will be able to see her soon and start setting things straight: "Of course we will require the help of professionals and very delicate attention within the family and from friends," he said.
But he added that Moscow State University, of which Varvara remains a student, does not seem willing to show similar understanding: "Unfortunately, at the moment we are receiving information that the university is trying to distance itself from this case, even by expelling her for missing the exams."
Varvara has not been expelled so far, and her dean has said he is not planning to do so at the moment. He said, however, that the girl and her family will have to explain her absence from the May exams.
Karaulov still has no way of contacting his daughter directly, but he has had this message to pass on to her: "Varya, you will always remain my beloved daughter. Your choice is above all for me. The most important thing for me is to know you are all right. I will always do what I can so that you are well. All the difficulties, we can overcome together."