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S itting in her modest apartment near Amsterdam, Wafa turns on her phone and opens WhatsApp. She’s filled with a mixture of hope and fear.
Covering her face with her hijab, Wafa, 40, weeps as she waits for two blue check marks confirming Maha has received her message — the only sign that her 23-year-old daughter is still alive.
Maha and her nearly 2-year-old son Odai are trapped in Raqqa, ISIS’ de facto capital in Syria and one of the most isolated places on Earth. When she can find a rare internet connection away from watchful eyes, Maha talks to her mother via WhatsApp voice message.