In 2014 Christian met his future wife, Yasmina, a German-Moroccan woman with a troubled family past, says Sabine. "In fact, I introduced them to each other." It was at Friday prayers when the 17-year-old Yasmina approached her to inquire about Christian, because she wanted to marry a strictly religious Muslim.
It was not clear to Sabine that Yasmina intended to find a man with whom she could leave for Syria. Sabine is convinced that Yasmina was the driving force behind her son's further radicalisation. "Christian was totally besotted with this young woman who accepted him as he was," she says. "With his acne scars, his Crohn's disease and the frequent hospital stays."
After six months of knowing each other, the two married at a mosque in the city of Frankfurt. Around the New Year in 2015, Yasmina told Sabine for the first time that she and Christian intended to leave to join the self-proclaimed "Islamic State" in Syria. "Unfortunately, I didn't take that seriously, because she was still half a child."
Plans become concrete
In fact, Yasmina and Christian had apparently already begun very concrete preparations. They had planned their departure from internet cafes, including some outside of Dortmund. "Nobody would be so stupid as to do something like this from their home IP address," Sabine said.
Christian had already personally known many prominent voices within Germany's Salafist scene at that time, Sabine explains. Among them was the preacher Ibrahim Abu Nagie, the founder of the now banned "LIES!" (Read!) campaign, in which German Koran translations were distributed free of charge in inner cities, and Abu Walaa, who is considered the "ambassador" of IS in Germany.
Walaa was arrested in 2016 and is currently on trial. Christian had also encountered Anis Amri, who carried out the December 2016 Christmas market attack in Berlin. In July 2015, a few weeks before Christian left for Syria, Amri had entered Germany as a refugee under a false identity.
Even prior his departure, Christian was on the radar of the state security authorities in the Dortmund police force, says Sabine, adding that she herself is still under surveillance today. She has repeatedly had to hand in her mobile phone. She says spends a lot of time online. Via Facebook, she keeps in touch with people who belong to the Salafist scene. She says she does this in order to learn as much as possible about Christian – even after his death.
Journey to Islamic State
After Christian and Yasmina's departure in September 2015, Sabine regularly received phone calls and WhatsApp messages, she remembers. But there were also weeks without any contact at all. It was always Christian, who called her from different numbers. She couldn't reach him on her own: "He was in Raqqa, in Idlib and in Abu Kamal. And once also in Iraq."