Denmark's Most Wanted Vigilante
Joanna Palani’s story is both uplifting and tragic. She was born in a refugee camp in Ramadi, Iraq after the first Gulf War and claims she was nine years old the first time she fired a gun. After relocating to Denmark as a young girl to go to school, Palani dropped out of college in Copenhagen to join the fight in Syria against Assad’s regime in 2014. Following major setbacks in the Assad regime, she set her sights towards fighting ISIS in the region alongside Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Her reason? Palani, who is of Iranian-Kurdish descent, posted on Facebook that she wanted “to fight for women’s rights, democracy, [and for] European values [she] learned as a Danish girl.” Kind of like a modern day Mulan or even Jean Valjean from Les Misérables. Despite her noble (and totally badass) cause, her vigilantism has made her an enemy of the state.
Side note: She’s only 23 years old and wait until you see her.
So why is it that in a global war on terror, she’s being punished by the Danish government for kicking some ISIS butt? Read on to get the full scoop.
Joanna is thought to have killed over 100 ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria. Since 2014, she has fought alongside the Kurdish Peshmerga, which has stood against Assad’s dictatorship as well as ISIS. Toss in some liberation of Yazidi girls imprisoned as sex slaves and Joanna Palani might be the most badass woman you’ve read about all year.
Standing Up for What’s Right
In the wake of the Arab Spring, Palani decided to drop out of college in Copenhagen and fly to Syria to help fight against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Once that was over, she kept at it— setting her sights on ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria. Kobane, a Syrian town on the boarder with Turkey, was where she worked along side the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
A Personal Quest
Kurdish-Yazidi families of northern Iraq have been one of ISIS’s biggest targets for their genocidal reign of terror in the region. Joanna took it upon herself to help Peshmerga forces liberate Yazidi girls imprisoned by ISIS. Often these women end up in black market sex slavery.
“When we were preparing to liberate houses of ISIS sex slaves, we had this saying – one fighter goes to rescue, but many fighters will come back out.”
Her reasoning is nothing short of inspiring. So why doesn’t her own government support her?