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

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


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)


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


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.


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



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