A female ISIS fighter and her four children have been returned to Italy from a prison camp in Syria in one of the first family repatriations of foreign terrorists.
Alice Brignoli claims her decision to join ISIS was “a mistake” and has denied radicalising her children.
However, a profile picture on her WhatsApp account shows the children wearing military outfits and pointing to the sky with a rifle in front of them.
Brignoli was arrested on terror charges when she landed back on Italian soil earlier this week.
Authorities have taken her children, aged 11, eight, six and four, into foster care pending a decision by an Italian juvenile court.
When Brignoli asked if they were well, authorities told her they were “happy”.
They are the first family to be repatriated by Italy.
Last year an 11-year-old boy, Alvin, who was born in Italy to Albanian parents, became the first child to be repatriated by the nation when he was reunited with his father in Italy.
He had been taken to Syria by his mother to join ISIS and found by aid workers in a camp.
Brignoli, who had been held as a prisoner in the Al-Hol camp, lost her husband Moroccan-born Mohamed Koraichi last month in the camp after he died from an infection.
The pair left Italy with their children in 2015 and drove to Syria after being inspired by a speech by late ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi.
Brignoli told a judge this week she regretted travelling to Syria.
"It was a big mistake, the Islamic State in Syria was not the idyllic place we expected,” she said.
On Friday she is due to return to court to be interrogated by prosecutors.
Brignoli contributed to the radicalisation of the children, turning them against the West, Italian Carabinieri said in a statement.
Authorities say the children have family members in Italy and hope they can follow examples of other children returning from ISIS territory in demonstrating indoctrination can be reversed.
‘’There was a minimal amount of indoctrination -- but no military training -- enough to make them understand and agree with the choices that the parents had made,” Carabinieri Lt Col Andrea Leo said.
“But as we have experienced with Alvin, they are small children and they can easily turn back.”
Brignoli returned to Italy willingly, “convinced it was the best choice after the conditions she had lived in over the last five years,’’ he added.
Authorities are hoping she will help them locate other Italian families they believe are still in Syria.
Her late husband had recruited Italians to the group. He had received training, participated in fighting and was prepared to carry out suicide attacks, authorities claimed.
Koraichi, who also held Italian citizenship, had helped others to travel to ISIS territories and had aided in the recruitment and radicalisation of at least two suspects who were arrested in April 2016 before they could leave Italy.