Over the last week, yet another fake news headline has been making the rounds on social media. “Cute girl slays 100 ISIS fighters, you won’t believe what happens next!” This news item was already clichéd during the heyday of ISIS clickbait articles back in 2015. Now it is just getting embarrassing to watch people share these stories.
Joanna Palani is a Danish citizen of Kurdish extraction, having been born in a refugee camp in Ramadi in 1993. Emigrating to Denmark when she was three, Palani told The Guardian that the traveled to Syria to, “to fight for women’s rights, for democracy – for the European values I learned as a Danish girl.” Palani did in fact travel to northern Syria, called Rojava by the Kurds, where she joined the YPJ militia.
From those basic facts, the media has been having a field day claiming that Palani has a one million dollar bounty on her head for killing 100 ISIS fighters. Not 99 fighters, not 101, but a nice clean round number of 100. SOFREP pinged a number of sources who have served with the YPG in Syria as to whether these claims are accurate. The answer was loud and unanimous: no.
One contact reported, “I saw her 2-3 times over 4 months. Last was outside Manbij at an American SOF medical post. She was being escorted (with a commander and her bodyguards) there looking clean as a whistle, even after 2 months into the operation…while I was seriously hurt, she showed up and was showered with attention and care while she got an IV and some ibuprofen for a headache. Did she snipe down 100 dudes? Hell no. Was she responsible for freeing sex slaves and oppressed women? No. She was just there for the sake of being there.”
When asked what unit she was in, the former YPG member replied, “It wasn’t one of their ‘sniper’ units, which are a thing, and every time I saw her she was being escorted around by a number of commanders, a translator and a camera or two.”
SOFREP reached out to Palani for comment on this article but did not receive a reply.
However, there is another factor which should be discussed before Palani is thrown under the bus. She did have the guts to travel to Syria and join the YPJ for starters. Second, all of the clickbait stories about Palani killing 100 ISIS fighters appear to have originated from a single source, a British tabloid called The Mirror. The “article” in the Mirror does not quote Palani, probably because they never talked to her, and provides no source citations for where their information came from. It should also be noted that The Mirror is where you have been getting your clickbait SAS articles for the last couple years.
You know those fictional stories about how a SAS sniper shot a ISIS executioner who was about to behead a Yazidi sex slave? The bullet went right through the swordsmen, killed five other ISIS fighters, and then exploded a warehouse that was producing yellowcake for WMDs. Yeah, that’s fake news from The Mirror. If Palani made claims of a massive kill count, I can not find them, only the non-attributable information from a disreputable British tabloid.
However, it is true that Palani is facing criminal charges now that she is back home in Denmark. She is the first Danish citizen arrested under the country’s new passport laws that were aimed at preventing Danish citizens from joining ISIS. The irony is that returning ISIS members have been offered rehabilitation instead of jail time. Meanwhile Palani, who fought on the same side as Danish soldiers deployed to the region, is now looking at criminal charges.
The fake news stories are absolutely not doing Palani any favors back in Denmark. The Danish government is extremely sensitive about military matters, one could even say that they are obsessed with political correctness and how their country is viewed on the world stage. The media no doubt saw an attractive young woman in Palani and used that to spin a media narrative, but claiming that she killed a 100 ISIS fighters is only going to hurt her court case and make it that much harder for her to receive a fair trial.
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