‘I’m Not A Monster’: Who’s Who from the Podcast

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A montage of some of the people featured in "I'm Not a Monster," a new podcast from FRONTLINE (PBS) and BBC.

A montage of some of the people featured in "I'm Not a Monster," a new podcast from FRONTLINE (PBS) and BBC.

November 24, 2020

An American mother living in the heart of ISIS’ self-declared caliphate. Her husband, an ISIS sniper. Her 10-year-old son, forced to threaten the U.S. president in a propaganda video shown around the world.

She claims she was tricked into taking her young children to war-torn Syria. But where does her account end and the truth begin?

That’s the question driving I’m Not A Monster, a new podcast from FRONTLINE (PBS) and BBC Panorama. Starting Nov. 23, 2020, and continuing weekly for a total of 10 episodes, the series follows journalist Josh Baker on a nearly four-year quest to understand the story of how Sam Sally (also known as Sam Elhassani) went from Indiana to ISIS territory — and what happened when she came back.

Here’s an introduction to the people you’ll encounter in episode one of I’m Not A Monster. As the series progresses, check back to meet new characters and uncover new relationships among them.

Josh Baker

JoshBaker
FRONTLINE/BBC

A British investigative journalist, filmmaker and the cowriter and narrator of I’m Not A Monster. He narrowly survived an ISIS suicide bombing while making a documentary in Iraq in 2016. While recovering, he received a tip about Sam Sally’s story and has been pursuing it ever since.


Sam Sally (aka Sam Elhassani)

08-SAMSYRIA
FRONTLINE/BBC

An Indiana woman who, in 2015, ended up in Raqqa, Syria — then the capital of ISIS’ self-described caliphate. She claims she was tricked into traveling there with her children by her husband, Moussa.


Moussa Elhassani

04-Sam and Mousa
Source: Sam Sally (Elhassani)'s Facebook page

Sam’s husband, a Moroccan national. He came to America to study and then stayed on to work in the family business, a shipping company. The couple married in 2012. He went on to become an ISIS sniper.


Lori Sally

LoriSally
FRONTLINE/BBC

Sam’s sister. The siblings had lost touch, with Lori mistakenly believing Sam and her family were in Texas. Then, in February 2017, Lori received a desperate email from Sam, pleading for help.


Matthew

03-Matthew at window

One of Sam’s four children. In a home video emailed to his Aunt Lori that we hear in episode one, the young boy is coached on how to carry out a suicide bombing.

Subscribe to I’m Not A Monster on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. For more on the story of Sam Sally and her family, watch Return from ISIS, a new FRONTLINE documentary, coming in December.


Patrice Taddonio

Patrice Taddonio, Digital Writer & Audience Development Strategist, FRONTLINE

Twitter:

@ptaddonio

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