The German giant of the Jihad, as he might hold a little upright. With bent cross, head and chin freshly shaved, slip in the Two-Meter man to the door. He wears a plaid shirt under a blue sweater, the long, skinny legs, he pulled a grey Jogging pants, the feet are sandals in simple plastic. His gaze sticks to the floor. Depressed, almost frail, the 28-Year-old. But his Handshake is firm and cold. “You can call me Nihad. This is my Islamic Name,” he says. His birth name he would not say. “But you know who I am? You know who you’re talking to?”

dozens of German IS-fighters

Behind the coquetry calculus. Martin Lemke – one of the Kurdish secret service, the man has identified him before the start of the meeting – and-white: He’s part of the Terror-celebrities. Among the dozens of German IS-fighters in the prisons of the Kurdish-led SDF militia in northeast Syria, he is one of the most notorious. No German has it brought in the “Islamic state” so far as he. Of this circumstance he would like to do now is take advantage of. “I’m going to work after my penalty in the anti-terrorist organizations. In the anti-terror fight,” says the alleged Top Terrorist. Prior to his escape, he offered a Familiar to the German security authorities as a key witness. His departure in the Islamic state was “a mistake,” he says today, “a short-circuit response”. Now he wanted “to support the German government and the protection of the Constitution”.

Is trust Martin Lemke alias Nihad?

This question is in the room, since the trained welder from Zeitz in Saxony-Anhalt has entered the small corner room with the drawn curtains. It service near the city of Qamishli in North Syria, lies on a vertex of the Kurdish secret. President Bashar al-Assad has withdrawn his troops more than six years ago almost entirely from this part of the country. Today, the Kurdish-led militia dominated “Syrian democratic forces” (SDF) for the area along the Turkish border.


Lemke’s sons, Jafar, 1, (R) and Schakir, 3, (l.) from a stranger IS women in the camp, al-Hol

©Alice Martins

cared for On the day exactly three weeks ago, Lemke has resulted in some 300 kilometres to the South of SDF militia. A photograph of the arrest shows him with matted hair and wild-eyed maniac. His second wife, Sabina, a Dagestanerin, his third wife, the 19-year-old German Leonora brass, and four of his six children he had with him. It was an escape in the last second. Because the Caliphate that stretched at the height of his Power over a territory the size of great Britain, after a year long battle against the bombers of the U.S. air force and British and French artillery supported the SDF immediately before the collapse.

On a patch of approximately 700 square meters in the village of Baghuz in the lower Euphrates valley, the last of the followers of caliphs, have entrenched themselves in a hopeless situation. Thousands have fled as Lemke and his family in the past few weeks, from Baghuz and the Kurds been set: the men in the prisons, whose locations are kept secret. Women and children, in guarded tent camps. The two surviving wives of Lemke’s, with four children living in the Camp. And his two minor sons from the marriage with Lemke’s deceased wife, Julie are here for three years and one year old, the younger one severely injured, and he left alone on the run and are now in the care of others. These children are part of the history of the Martin Lemke.


the traces of The privation of retreat fight to him written all over his face. Always Lemke coughs dry. The Jihadist complains about the Narrowness of his two times one and a half Meter cell, without daylight, using the cold drinking water, the SIP-ready complaints. “Horror,” he says over the last few weeks in the Caliphate. “Many children died, many of the women died. Hunger. No food, no water. Rain. Cold. Not A House. You can’t explain with words.” For an interview with the star, he decided on one condition: His face may not be shown.

This drought design with hanging head, and almost subordinate view is supposed to be a murderous Terrorist? The idea seems at first glance absurd. But the allegations against Lemke weigh heavy. As a member of the secret service “Amnijat”, a kind of IS-Stasi, espionage, should it be his task to have been dissenters and traitors in the IS track, to torture and to kill. Witnesses have testified that he conducted interrogations of detainees in German. In to the IS-prison-turned-stadium the IS capital of Raqqa, where Lemke lived with his family for years, he should have prisoners to death, tortured. According to research by the weekly paper “The time” he boasted in a Facebook message to an acquaintance: “I have cut off people’s heads.”


the 19-year-old Leonora is living as a prisoner

©Alice Martins

The quote brings Lemke Laugh. “No, that’s not true,” he says. “I did, Allah be praised, never a people cut off your head. I can’t remember that I’ve posted. There were people cut off the heads, but not me.” Shortly thereafter, a remarkable sentence occurs: “It is a lot of talk, but no one knows the truth.” Really no one?

lasts The longer the conversation, the clearer it becomes: Martin Lemke is in spite of all the physical weakness awake and careful in everything he says. He is pursuing a clear strategy. He willingly acknowledges that what he believes that it could make him as leniency interesting. Allegations implicating him as the perpetrator, denying that he consistently. Yes, he was from the middle of 2015, one and a half years Amnijat member. As the only German in the “Wilayat ar-Raqqa”, the administrative district of Raqqa, the Caliphate. But he had worked only in a “technical office”. “I have made a formatted Laptops, mobile phones, formatted, repair. I have done encryption for hard disks, USB Sticks. That Kind Of Stuff. I am from my workplace to home, from home to my workplace. I’ve heard neither what is nor what is seen. No news, no television, nothing.”

The witness, the has him charged on the most serious, threatens IS man Lemke from detention in Syria with the rule of law: “I will drag this man to justice for what he has said. If I have the opportunity, I will inform my lawyer. He is a great liar. And I’ll legally take action against him.”


The investigation files, the evidence, pieces of evidence and testimonies, they are the two sides of the story of the alleged terrorists, Martin Lemke, of the learned SWeißers, converted in 2011 to Islam, from then on, Nihad announced, in November 2014, Germany the back and into the IS-Caliphate breaks. Should the Federal government bring bring 42 women and men with a German passport and their more than 80, mostly small children, are currently in a Kurdish prison in Northern Syria, to Germany, then the German courts will shed light on this side of the story and your judgment.

Horst Seehofer, whose Department must approve the repatriation, ultimately, applies the brakes. “Each individual case must be resolved on the spot, before anyone is set on the plane”, explained the Minister of the interior recently. But since then, U.S. President Donald Trump has urged the Europeans via Tweet ultimately to the withdrawal of their citizens from the North of Syria, has increased the pressure on the decision makers in Berlin significantly. The case, Lemke’s settled by German investigators to the extent that a prosecution would be in Germany. Martin Lemke waiting, like most of the other German-IS-prisoners in Syria, in his cell, impatiently waiting for a contact from the German authorities.

But the story of the jihadists from Zeitz has a second page. It is the of the family people Martin Lemke. It is of interest to German courts just on the edge, if you look at the crime, beyond the mere membership in a terrorist organization are for him to prove and what punishment is appropriate. And yet this side of the story is at least as important for all that want to understand: What is Martin Lemke for a man?

It is the story of an outsider, a self-brötlers and goalkeeping Talent, developed in the beginning of 20, a fascination with Islam and shortly thereafter, converted. Also his girlfriend he up to this. The two marry in a Leipzig mosque. However, Lemke’s increasingly radical views in matters of Faith straining the relationship soon. When he wants to take a second wife, separates his first wife from him. Since Lemke, has distributed in 2012, with other Salafist Koran-copies is already on the Radar of the security agencies.

His second wife, is 2013, the 21-year-old French student Julie Maninchedda. In the framework of a double degree program in German and French literature, she moved in the fall of 2012 for a year abroad to Leipzig. Julie has already come in France to Islam. It’s called since then, Shirin. At Lemke’s site in Leipzig, she begins to polymerize to form a radical. She is wearing a face veil. When Julie’s parents from France come to visit, he leaves you for a Moment alone with you. They speak French to each other, he reacts impatiently.

Supposedly idyllic years

In April 2014, Julie brings in Leipzig, the son, Yasir. A little later, the Couple moved in with the toddler to Hildesheim. Lemke takes part on a three-month Seminar at the mosque, the Iraqi-born preacher Abu Walaa. Is today considered one of the most important German IS-Recruiters. Since September 2017 land court at the top of the Celle is a process for membership in a foreign terrorist Association against him. On 2. November 2014 flying Lemke with Julie, the six-month-old Yasir, and Sabina, a second woman from Dagestan, he has married in the meantime, from Hannover to Istanbul. The travel expenses of 2000 euros, the group has paid to Abu Walaa. A few days later, the family group crossed the border to Syria.

When Martin Lemke can look back on his life in the Caliphate, then he speaks of two different periods. The first falls in the period between November 2014 and autumn 2017, while he lives with his family in the IS capital of Raqqa on the Euphrates. The second period of time after, the time of the war and the run up to the capture at the end of January 2019. This is also the time in his family life for Lemke to the load.


The foreigners living in the IS prisoners like this woman is in guarded tent cities. In the Camps, 2500 children from over 30 countries.

©Alice Martins

“In the time of Raqqa,” says Lemke, “all was well. At this time, the IS us money every month. US $ 50 per Person and $ 35 per child. That was the best time. If something was, you could go to the hospital. You could, and to walk with his family.” During this supposedly idyllic years of Lemke married his third wife, Leonora brass from Sangerhausen, not far from his birthplace Zeitz. She is a friend of Julie from the Leipzig period and has attracted to Julie, in 2015, with only 15 years, secretly from home to the IS opened.

First of all, Lemke, inhabited with its three women in a large apartment. But soon he decides: Every woman should run her own household. “It was easy to take three apartments. There are Syrian civilians gone, for example, to Germany. The IS has seized the house. I have had two rental properties and a by the IS.” He also buys for 800 US Dollar an African IS a man, a Jesidin with their two children. He brings them in the house of the second wife.

The changeover from one to three dwellings is a success. “You have to give the woman her rights. This means: I sleep a night with this woman, a night with this woman, a night with this woman. And the woman wants to make themselves beautiful. And if she is in front of the other woman, the other woman, maybe jealousy,” explains Lemke in clumsy German with a Saxon accent. “In order to avoid problems, it is better to refer to individual apartments. It makes it easier. Man is killed. Because every woman has their own life style. To clean to cook your own way of dealing with children.”

“A woman was killed,”

in 2016, brings Julie Lemke’s French wife, their second son to the world. They call him Schakir. “My wives and I, we have never had a lot of problems,” says Lemke. 2017 Julie will for the third Time, pregnant, the 17-year-old Leonora is expecting her first child.

3500 miles away from Raqqa, in the small French city of Libercourt to the South of Lille, the parents of Julie to make at this time. Since then, she’s broken up three years ago with Martin Lemke to the Caliphate, did the daughter on a regular basis via Whatsapp and E-Mail. She sends pictures and short Clips of the two grandchildren Yasir and Schakir with their toy cars. Sometimes a video call fails to Raqqa. But then the contact to Julie suddenly breaks off. It will take months until she registers at the beginning of January 2018 desperate parents. Lemke got your banen, to call home. For months, miss was and he beat them. “My face is back to normal,” says Julie, who is now in the eighth month of pregnancy.

The Idyll of Raqqa is at this point, long gone. In September 2017, the SDF have been distributed to the militias of the IS from its capital city on the Euphrates. Weeks earlier, Lemke with his wives and children moved to Sussa on the Iraqi border. Here, too, the bombs, the Anti-IS coalition to fall.

Julie tells her parents that she ran away a few days ago, Lemke. But have you captured again and in a woman’s house put. After you have filed the divorce, he had taken away her two sons. “I’m afraid that he’ll kill me if I go to visit them,” writes Julie home. On 5. February brings you all alone in a ruined hospital and the third child to the world. She calls the young Jafar. Only weeks after the birth, she married an IS fighter from Morocco. “You had no other choice,” says her father, Patrice Maninchedda. “You couldn’t stay as a woman with a small child alone in the middle of the war.”

Martin Lemke mentioned anything about it. The phone call with Julie’s parents until after his Interview with the star. Julie Lemke told again, when he speaks of the time four or five months before the end of the run in Baghuz. It is the only Moment of the interview, in which he loses for a short moment. “I’ve had three women,” whispers Lemke. “A woman was killed.” Tears on his cheeks. He throws the head forward and holds the left Hand in front of his face.


they were on a desperate continuous escape from the bombs. “We have been sent from place to place. Retreat, retreat, retreat,” says Lemke. Sometime in October or November of 2018 are you looking for in the hamlet Schafa’a on the lower Euphrates shelter. Julie finds Jafar, her new husband, and a few-day-old infant, her fourth child, shelter in an abandoned house. There Julie, her husband and the infant in the splinter hail die. The nine-month-old Jafar survived seriously injured.

“had broken His right leg, above and below. Half his face was open, was stitched. On the left side of the chest, a sliver came in, had surgery,” says Lemke. A few days later, he gives his wounded son and his nearly three-year-old brother in the care of a stranger Uzbek Syrian family. “Babysitting”, he calls it. To “this point in time, my German and my Daghestan a woman pregnant. It was difficult with an injured child. The associations always need to be changed. It was hard.”

Julie’s oldest son, Yasir, his first-born, he gives his Dagestani’s second wife, Sabina in care. The Boy is five years old, he knows that his mother is dead, Lemke’s third wife, Leonora, later the star tell the story: “The says: ‘mom is in Paradise. And dad is in prison.’ The understands everything that deals with him, hurt him.”

In the war in the following weeks of turmoil Lemke loses the contact to the family of Jafar and Schakir. When he arrives at the end of January with his two women Leonora and Sabina at the first Checkpoint of the Kurds, to have given birth to two babies in Arm, three and one month old, on the run. Also Yasir and Leonora’s first daughter, Habiba, almost one and a half years old, have survived the Caliphate.

Lemke’s women and their children are now in the Camp, al-Hol, near the city of Hassakeh, on the edge of the stone desert. In the aliens camp, groups of women pushing themselves in floor-length black Abayas on the fence. Leonora, who comes third wife of Lemke, daughter Habiba on the Arm to the Interview. The child has curly light blonde and blue stud earrings, it is a lot of crying. “Habiba have to go home, to Germany,” says Leonora. “In Germany there is tooth gel. Not here.” What you missed in the Caliphate the most? “German Food. McDonald’s potato dumplings. Properly Eastern house cuisine. And of course, my parents.”

Chronic abdominal pain

beat Martin Lemke and his wife, Julie? “I don’t know what happened to their house. But the have a fight, I know that.” Can you imagine that he hit a Pregnant woman? “You can be.” It had to happen but never. And why he took Julie to the sons? Leonora insists that Julie’s new husband did not want to have children. He got in the marriage contract that he’ll divorce when the boys would stay with Julie: “We had an agreement, three days the children are with us for three days with her. And then you came.”

And why has given away Lemke the children after Julie’s death? “I was 18,” says Leonora, “I had four children. And I was pregnant. I haven’t managed to. And then the hunger period started in the IS.”

In France, had to get Julie’s parents again for months, no sign of life of her daughter. Julie’s mother calls in the beginning of December in a Video on the French President: “Monsieur Macron, I’ll call for help. Our children and grandchildren are being bombarded at this very moment.” In time, as Leonora with the kids is arrested, ringing at Julie’s parents the phone. The woman on the other end of the line is a friend of the mother, whose daughter Julie had gone to the IS. You were the one to deliver the news of Julie’s death.