Der SpiegelDer Spiegel

A Family’s Journey from Cologne to the Islamic State

By Özlem Gezer, Sarah Klosterkamp und Timofey Neshitov

16 Jun 2021 · 24 min read

The father is sitting at a white lacquer table and scrolling through the screenshots of the last conversation he had with his son. He says he hasn’t heard from him in weeks and that he has since deleted his number, which had been saved in his contacts for several years as "my Ismail.”

It’s an evening in April and he seems exhausted, his voice subdued. He has invited us into his living room in a Cologne suburb to talk about his sons’ ingratitude and about their mother’s mistakes. But not about his own.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content