Thwaiba Kanafani

Last updated
Thwaiba Kanafani
Born1972 (age 4748)
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.

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

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.

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.

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]

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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References

  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.”