A few years ago, then 23-year-old Danish woman, Joanna Palani, drew international attention after she joined Kurdish forces (YPG) in Iraq to battle notorious ISIS. Since then, her glory faded and she has traveled a long way from Kurdish frontlines to the Danish prison where she has been imprisoned, stripped of her visa, and banned from international travel for 12 months by the Danish government.
In the eyes of her fellow countryman, Joanna Palani was seen as a modern hero. She was born in a UN Iraqi refugee camp in 1993, her origins are from Iranian Kurds. In 2014, she made the decision to join Kurdish forces, left college and returned to her motherland to “fight for human rights for all people.” She described that by her own words. In the story she told once upon a time, her family had military history and her father and grandfather were soldiers as well, and she has been familiar with firearms since the age of nine.
Joanna Palani’s courage in leaving a pleasant life in Denmark to fight against a terrorist group won her many online supporters and sympathies. Her flawless skin, bright white teeth, and healthy figure contributed as well. Palani presented herself as an experienced soldier and media magnet, so much so that ISIS media outlets revealed that the terror group placed a one-million-dollar bounty on her head.
After she returned to Denmark in 2015, the Danish authorities suspended her passport, on the basis of a Danish law that prevents citizens of Denmark from taking part in paramilitary or foreign armed forces. The legislation was established to prevent Danish citizens from fleeing to join ISIS and the possibility of returning as radicalized terrorists. After Belgium, Denmark is considered as Europe’s second-highest rate of returning radicals.
The Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) marked Joanna Palani as an “immersive threat to national security,” a label that she claims has prevented her from getting a normal job. At the time, she called the actions of her government a “betrayal” after everything she did for her people and for the world peace.
Joanna Palani pleaded guilty for violating her travel ban by going to Qatar in June 2015 and she was taken into custody where she awaited trial which was set for December 20, 2015. She was sentenced to nine months in jail and banned from leaving Denmark with her passport taken away. Today, she has become a writer and social influencer.