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Friends of Elkhart woman widowed by ISIS fighter share thoughts

ELKHART, Ind. - Childhood friends of an Elkhart woman widowed by her husband turned ISIS fighter in Syria share their shock at hearing that their longtime friend is stranded.

CNN reports that 32-year-old Samantha Sally followed her husband from Elkhart overseas in the hopes of starting a new life with her family in Morocco.

The family of four ended up on the Syrian border, and she says she had the option to either let her husband take her daughter across the border without her, or she would take her son and they would all go to keep the family together.

She tells CNN she chose the latter.

She says after enduring years of abuse at the hands of her husband and other members of ISIS, her was killed.

Now, she's stuck in a Syrian-Kurdish jail.

Her hometown friends hadn't heard from her in a while and assumed all was well, until they read CNN's article Thursday.

“Everything was completely different. I was a dog. I didn’t have a choice. It was extremely violent," Sam Sally told CNN.

The article was the first time in years that childhood friends Alix Winne and Krysti Hankins had heard from Sally.

“I go oh that looks like an interesting article, and I pulled it up and I go oh my gosh I know her. And the first thing I did was call her, and I was like you need to sit down, I’m going to email you this link," said Winne.

“It’s a horrible way to find out. We both read it and we were both literally in tears just knowing what she’s having to go through. It’s seriously heartbreaking. I had no idea at all," said Hankins.

The Sam they remember growing up in Springdale, Arkansas liked to let loose.

“She’s just a country girl. She lived on a dirt road. Horses. I think that’s the biggest memory we all have. She used to have a Bronco, and we’d all just go cruising in it," said Hankins.

Later, Sally ended up in Elkhart, Indiana, married to Moussa Elhassani, with two kids.

The beginning of Sam's story, though, isn't radically different from barista Heather Lyons'.

She moved to Elkhart about six years ago after getting married and now has a kid.

“I think it would be incredibly hard, being married myself if all the sudden...he turns into somebody else...I just think it’s crazy. I don’t even know how I’d feel as just a young mother with four kids," said Lyons.

That's what Sam's hometown friends are thinking about as they look through old Facebook posts and comments from her.

“Especially when kids are involved. You want to protect them. I cannot imagine having to watch what she watched. I’m incredibly proud of her for being able to survive it," said Hankins.

Alix and Krysti are determined to never lose touch with their friend again.

“Friends for what 20 years now, I just want her to know that we love her and we miss her and we’re going to do everything in our power to bring her back," said Winne.

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