Thwaiba Kanafani

Last updated
Thwaiba Kanafani
Born1972 (age 4647)
Nationality Canadian/Syrian
Other namesThwaiba Kalafani
Occupation engineer
Known forVolunteered to fight with Syrian rebels

Thwaiba Kanafani is Canadian/Syrian engineer whose 2012 decision to volunteer to fight with Syrian rebels against the Bashar al Assad regime triggered world-wide coverage. [1] [2] [3] [4] In August 2012, Tom Coghlan, writing in The Times of London, described her as "the female face of the Syrian revolution." [5] She encouraged other women to also join the free Syrian army. [6] The world-wide media coverage encouraged young Muslims to travel to Syria to fight against Assad, many of whom would later join ISIS.

Canadians citizens of Canada

Canadians are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, several of these connections exist and are collectively the source of their being Canadian.

<i>The Times</i> British daily compact newspaper owned by News UK

The Times is a British daily national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register, adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers, since 1981 a subsidiary of News UK, in turn wholly owned by News Corp. The Times and The Sunday Times do not share editorial staff, were founded independently, and have only had common ownership since 1967.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Salafi jihadist terrorist and militant group

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, officially known as the Islamic State (IS) and also known by its Arabic-language acronym Daesh, is a Salafi jihadist militant group and former unrecognised proto-state that follows a fundamentalist, Salafi doctrine of Sunni Islam. ISIL gained global prominence in early 2014 when it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in its Western Iraq offensive, followed by its capture of Mosul and the Sinjar massacre.

Kanafani emigrated to Canada in 2002, after working in the United Arab Emirates. [3] She and her husband raised a family in Toronto.

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Its southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Canada's capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

United Arab Emirates Country in Western Asia

The United Arab Emirates, sometimes simply called the Emirates, is a country in Western Asia at the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south and west, as well as sharing maritime borders with Qatar to the west and Iran to the north. The sovereign constitutional monarchy is a federation of seven emirates consisting of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain. Their boundaries are complex, with numerous enclaves within the various emirates. Each emirate is governed by a ruler; together, they jointly form the Federal Supreme Council. One of the rulers serves as the President of the United Arab Emirates. In 2013, the UAE's population was 9.2 million, of which 1.4 million are Emirati citizens and 7.8 million are expatriates.

Toronto Provincial capital city in Ontario, Canada

Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the most populous city in Canada, with a population of 2,731,571 in 2016. Current to 2016, the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA), of which the majority is within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), held a population of 5,928,040, making it Canada's most populous CMA. The city is the anchor of the Golden Horseshoe, an urban agglomeration of 9,245,438 people surrounding the western end of Lake Ontario. Toronto is an international centre of business, finance, arts, and culture, and is recognized as one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world.

In the months leading up to her decision to volunteer Kanafani described participating in social media discussions about the unrest in Syria, and the number of deaths of innocent civilians. [1] She described being encouraged to volunteer by her older brother. Her husband and children joined her, and established a home in Egypt prior to her travel to Turkey for military training.

Egypt Country spanning North Africa and Southwest Asia

Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country in the northeast corner of Africa, whose territory in the Sinai Peninsula extends beyond the continental boundary with Asia, as traditionally defined. Egypt is bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, Libya to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.

Turkey Republic in Western Asia

Turkey, officially the Republic of Turkey, is a transcontinental country located mainly on the Anatolian peninsula in Western Asia, with a small portion on the Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. East Thrace, the part of Turkey in Europe, is separated from Anatolia by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorous and the Dardanelles. Turkey is bordered by Greece and Bulgaria to its northwest; Georgia to its northeast; Armenia, the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan and Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the south. Istanbul is the largest city while Ankara is the capital. Approximately 70 to 80 per cent of the country's citizens identify as Turkish. Kurds are the largest minority; the size of the Kurdish population is a subject of dispute with estimates placing the figure at anywhere from 12 to 25 percent of the population.

The Free Syrian Army broadcast a YouTube recruiting video showing Kanafani surrounded by other fighters, where she announced she had joined the Banner of Damascus Falcons Troop of Aleppo Martyrs.

Free Syrian Army militant rebel faction in Syria

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is a loose faction in the Syrian Civil War founded on 29 July 2011 by officers of the Syrian Armed Forces whose stated goal was to bring down the government of Bashar al-Assad. A formal organization at its founding, its structure gradually dissipated by late 2012, and the FSA identity has since been used by various opposition groups.

YouTube Video-sharing service owned by Google

YouTube is an American video-sharing website headquartered in San Bruno, California. Three former PayPal employees—Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim—created the service in February 2005. Google bought the site in November 2006 for US$1.65 billion; YouTube now operates as one of Google's subsidiaries.

In early August 2012 Kanafani had crossed back into Turkey, after two of her bodyguards were killed. [7]

In October 2012 Armina Ligaya writing in the National Post reported on Kanafani's return to Canada. [8] She quoted Kanafani remaining committed to return to Syria. Kanafani had not served as a front-line fighter, and had not been called upon to fire her weapon. Her duties had consisted of committee meetings, visiting refugee camps, and other recruiting activities. Kanafani had also gone underground, and had scouted areas still occupied by al-Assad loyalists. [7]

<i>National Post</i> National newspaper based in Toronto, Canada

The National Post is a Canadian English-language newspaper. The paper is the flagship publication of Postmedia Network, and is published Tuesdays through Saturdays. It was founded in 1998 by Conrad Black. Once distributed nationally, it later began publishing a daily edition in the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia, with only its weekend edition available in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. As of 2006, the Post is no longer distributed in Canada's Atlantic provinces and the territories.

In an October 2012 profile of Khaled Sawaf, president of the Syrian Canadian Council, Simon Kent, writing in the Toronto Sun , reported that Sawaf described Kanafani. [9]

“There are many thousands of Syrians like her who found refuge in Canada, starting in the 1980s, back when president Bashar al-Assad’s father murdered 40,000 people in Hama. We are grateful to be free and in peaceful Canada. Its open door to refugees is famous around the world. But Syrians in Canada still worry about all our friends and relatives left behind. Sometimes it is very hard to sleep with worry.”

In 2015 the Toronto Star described Kanafani as having left the front lines after growing disillusioned. [10]

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  1. 1 2 Armina Ligaya (2012-07-12). "Thwaiba Kanafani trades Toronto apartment for battle zone: Taking up rebel cause". National Post. Archived from the original on 2012-07-13. Retrieved 2015-03-24. “I came from Canada to answer the call of my homeland,” Ms. Kanafani says in a YouTube video announcing her decision, posted on July 7 and translated from Arabic. “To enlist myself in the Syrian Free Army and join the Banner of Damascus Falcons Troop of Aleppo Martyrs, special missions. A message to the free ladies in Syria to immediately join the Free Army to work with our [defending] brothers and fight al-Assad militias.”
  2. Justin Vela (2012-07-12). "Syrian rebels: 'I don't think we need help from a woman from Canada'". The Globe and Mail . Antakya, Turkey. Archived from the original on 2012-07-13. Retrieved 2015-03-24. After weeks of meetings with opposition figures based in Turkey, she said she was spirited briefly across the border into Syria to record a call-to-arms video that has become a centrepiece of opposition propaganda. In it, she announces proudly that she has “come from Canada to answer the call of my homeland.”
  3. 1 2 Nadine Kalinauskas (2012-07-12). "Toronto mother Thwaiba Kanafani swaps city life for Syrian war zone". Daily Brew. Archived from the original on 2015-03-24. In May, Kanafani left her apartment in Toronto for the Syrian battle zone, a decision, she says, surprised her family and friends.
  4. Tom Coghlan (2012-08-04). "Canadian 'mom' is new rebel recruit". The Times . Retrieved 2015-03-24. The remaking of Thwaiba Kalafani, 41, from Western business high-flyer to Syrian insurgent commander in the “Eagles of Damascus” Brigade is one of the more unlikely effects of the country’s increasingly brutal civil war.
  5. Tom Coghlan (2012-08-07). "'I don't know if I will ever go back to my children. How can I leave the revolution?'". The Times . Retrieved 2015-03-24. She has become the female face of the Syrian revolution but Thwaiba Kanafani desperately misses her two children. She consoles herself, she says, by reasoning that it is for their sake and for Syrian children like them that she carries a gun on to the battlefield.
  6. Reemkanafani1 (2012-07-07), Translation Thwaiba Kanafani joins Syrian Free Army-----3.wmv , retrieved 2016-04-22
  7. 1 2 Richard Galpin (2012-08-04). "Syria crisis: Turkey training rebels, says FSA fighter". Adana, Turkey: BBC News. Archived from the original on 2015-03-24. When we met up in the city of Adana in southern Turkey, she had just fled across the border from the Syrian city of Aleppo after a mission with rebel forces that went wrong. Two male colleagues who were acting as her minders, were killed.
  8. Armina Ligaya (2012-10-08). "Canadian mother vows to rejoin Syrian civil war to help rebels in fight against Assad". National Post. Archived from the original on 2012-10-09. Retrieved 2015-03-24. Half of her time was spent in Turkey, living out of a hotel room and co-ordinating via social media, or in committee meetings and visits to refugee camps. Ms. Kanafani says her role was far from the front line. She learned how to use a gun, but says she never fired one and is against killing.
  9. Simon Kent. "A call to arms in Syria". Toronto Sun . Retrieved 2015-03-24. Sawaf spoke as Thwaiba Kanafani, a Toronto mother of two, told of her work as an active member of the Free Syrian Army.
  10. Mitch Potter (2015-03-23). "50 shades of war: Canadians dive into conflicts' grey zones". Toronto Star . Retrieved 2015-03-24. “It was purely political, of course,” said Kanafani, who is back home in Mississauga and utterly dejected by what she now regards as “a stolen revolution.”