Jasmina Milovanov, 26, abandoned her two children, aged five and seven, with a babysitter earlier this month before telling friends she was in “Sham” — Arabic slang for Syria.
The Muslim convert or “revert” told the babysitter she was going to pick up a new car when she left her Western Sydney home but she never returned.
She sent a text message to her Turkish-Australian ex-husband on May 3, while he was in Turkey, telling him she was in “sham”. She said their son and daughter were being looked after in Australia but he needed to return home.
A former friend believes Ms Milovanov may have been lured to the war-torn region by notorious jihadi bride recruiter Melbourne woman Zehra Duman.
Ms Milovanov, who calls herself Assma Abdullah, is Facebook friends with Duman and posted comments of support when the recently widowed Zehra boasted of her life in Syria earlier this year.
Ms Milovanov’s former husband said he was “absolutely shocked” by the text. There has been no communication since.
“The only thing I can think about is my children, I can’t believe she left these two beautiful children. My son was saying in the days afterwards that he hoped ‘my mum is OK’,” he said.
“Before she (went) I talked to her (about her extreme Facebook posts). I said this is extreme, stupid. I was warning her about who she hang out with,” he said.
The police were not told about Ms Milovanov’s disappearance until the children were taken to a relative of her ex-husband several days after she had gone.
Following a difficult childhood, Ms Milovanov converted to Islam in her late teens before meeting her Muslim husband in rural NSW. They wed in 2006 but she left several years afterwards, claiming he was not as devout as she wanted. She had reportedly asked him to grow a beard and expressed her desire to live in Western Sydney’s Muslim community.
Ms Milovanov did not have a full-time job but had recently started work in a call centre while receiving government benefits as a single mother.
Her ex-husband described her as an impressionable dreamer who acted on impulse. She also does not speak fluent Arabic, her ex-husband said.
Two years ago when he went to collect his children she introduced him to her new husband. She separated from the man a week later.
“She will jump. She is the type of girl that starts dreaming about something and wants to do it,” he said.
“I want her to be OK. I don’t want her to be extreme about religion but that’s her choice. I don’t want her to finish her life.
“She must have meet someone who influenced her. I believe she has married someone over there.”
Her ex-husband said he found it hard to believe she could afford a plane ticket when he provided financial support for bills and groceries. In the text she sent him she said she had not paid her rent.
“There is not much the government can do. I can’t do much. If I had been here I would not have let her go, she knows that,” he said.
“Syria is not a good place to be and is not good for the religion as well.”
In a recent Facebook post Milovanov assured friends she was okay and was in the “blessed land of sham” but had bad phone reception.
“Please forgive me for everything,” she said.
When questioned by her friends about why she had left her children she quickly deleted the post.
The former friend she often talked about marrying a jihadi fighter.
“She went on and on about marriage and finding a man but when men showed interest in her she would turn them down and say she’s waiting for her husband in Jannah (paradise),” they said.
“She would refer to jihadi men as lions and admire them a lot. She’s naive and believes it’s a place where everyone is pious and there’s justice, and everyone is fairly treated and people are never oppressed. She would think everything IS have done has been justified.
“Despite how crazy she is, she seemed like a devoted mother. She would talk about how much she loves them. She always spoke about how her kids were her life. I don’t know what happened to make her abandon them and risk never seeing them again.”
Neighbours said Ms Milovanov had not been at her townhouse for several weeks, was “a bit strange” and would often yell at her children.
The AFP would not say what was being done to locate the missing mother but it is understood it is investigating the matter.
Under the foreign fighters legislation if she goes to Al-Raqqa in Syria or Mosul in Iraq she faces a decade in jail. It is illegal for any Australian to travel to those areas unless approved by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
Last month the government put the number of Australians fighting with terror groups in the Middle East at 100, with 30 believed to have died.
RUNAWAY mum Jasmina Milovanov had allegedly been in contact with a 21-year-old Australian recruiter of jihadi brides before she abandoned her children and travelled to join the terror group.
Milovanov is a Facebook friend with Zehra Duman, who shocked her family when she left Melbourne and travelled to Syria to marry playboy Australian jihadist Mahmoud Abdullatif last year.
The couple announced their wedding online in December, posting a photograph of her dowry which included an assault rifle. Five weeks later Abdullatif was dead.
Rather than mourn her husband, Duman went online to try to recruit other women to become jihadi brides and attracted a worldwide following.
She told her followers that her own parents had been heartbroken when she left because she had shown no signs of radicalisation.
“They were shocked, as I never have been public with my jihadi views. But also heartbroken, as my mum was very close to me … and she knows she will never see me again,” she wrote. She answered questions online for other “wannabe jihadi brides” on everything from tap water to the “yummy” food in the ISIS lands.
Duman offered to look for husbands for would-be brides and advised them to travel to Syria with a male relation as a chaperone. She told her online followers that she had a personal cache of weapons, including grenades, but that women were not allowed to carry out suicide attacks.
“But maybe one day soon it just might happen … which I can’t wait for,’’ she wrote.