Yusuf Zahab

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Yusuf Zahab
Born 2005
Sydney, Australia
Died January 2022
Occupation child refugee

Yusuf Zahab was an Australian youth, who was taken to what was then daesh controlled Syria, when he was just eleven years old.[1]

When the last Daesh enclave collapsed many of the foreign volunteers who had gone to fight for ideological reasons had died in battle, but their wives and children were confined to refugee camps, under harsh conditions.[1] Some of those wives remain ideologically committed to the Daesh cause. Others claim they were never committed to Daesh and had been tricked or coerced into following their husbands. Still others acknowledge willingly travelling to the enclave, but only to quickly have become disillusioned, and finding themselves unable to leave.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that Zahab was transferred to the Gweiran prison three years ago.[1] They reported he was able to get voice messages to his family, in January 2022, saying the prison was under attack, and requesting help to leave the prison.[2] He said he had suffered a head wound. He hasn't been heard from since, and he is believed to have been died.

Australian human rights workers fear that other teenage refugees may be transferred from the dangerous refugee camps to Syria's still more dangerous prisons for adult men.[1] Syrian authorities transfer boys to adult prison when they are as young as twelve years old.[3]

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that human rights workers believe at least forty other Australian children remain caught in Syria.[2]

The Guardian reports that, during the IS attack on the prison, IS fighters used children as human shields.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Kathleen Calderwood. Advocates fear for women and children in Syrian camps following death of Yusuf Zahab, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2022-07-19. Retrieved on 2022-07-19.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Tom Joyner. Australian teenager begs for help from inside Syrian prison at centre of dramatic battle between Islamic State and Kurdish fighters, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2022-01-25. Retrieved on 2022-07-19. “Caught in the chaos of the attack, the Australian boy has sent a handful of short voice recordings to his family in Sydney, describing the terror of the last few days.”
  3. Suzanne Dredge, Alex McDonald. More than 40 Australian children still languishing in Syrian detention camp, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2021-10-19. Retrieved on 2022-07-19. “Shayma said the family was tricked by her brothers when they arrived. 'Me or my family didn't choose to join ISIS, we were tricked by my brothers, that's how we got into ISIS,' Shayma said.” mirror
  4. Caitlin Cassidy. Sydney teen Yusuf Zahab believed to have died in IS attack on Syrian jail after begging Australia for help, The Guardian, 2022-07-18. Retrieved on 2022-07-19. “At the time, the Syrian Democratic Forces said they wouldn’t take responsibility for the 700 boys detained in the prison as the fighting continued, amid reports of fatalities and children being used as human shields.” mirror