A Russian pair are giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "going off the straight and narrow" - the two, a transsexual man and his gay female friend, have left to join the brutal Islamic State (ISIS) terror group in Syria after complaining they weren't accepted in Russia.
The duo from the Kamchatka region of far-eastern Russia apparently were unaware that ISIS publicly executes gay people by throwing them off buildings and stoning them, reports the British Daily Mail on Wednesday.
Alexei T. and Viktor E., who goes by Viktoria and dresses as a woman, reportedly left home after being lured by online ISIS videos which pander to a disenfranchised young crowd - but not to young homosexuals or transgenders who feel ostracized in their home communities.
The "battle trannies" as Russian media has dubbed them apparently hoped they would be accepted by ISIS. The two converts to Islam are both 22-years-old and have already set off for Syria; they have been placed on a list of wanted terrorists.
An unconfirmed report by a local news source in Kamchatka, kam.24.ru news agency, cites police saying they are now in a mental health institute, stating, "one of them was put there (in a mental institute - ed.) following a court decision because of his predisposition to suicide, and the other went there because he wanted to."
Alexander Vinogradov of the local police said, "we would always be interested in stopping people from joining a terrorist organization but in this case there is a double motive, as our information is that this would not be accepted if they managed to get all the way to Syria, and it is unlikely that they would live very long once their sexual orientation was revealed."
He noted ISIS's online recruiting campaign targets those who feel out of place, but does not appear to have gay people in mind as its target audience.
The road to transsexualism and radical Islam
Daily Mail provided a background picture from those who knew the duo in exploring how they arrived at the contradicting status of gay radical Muslims.
Viktor's aunt said he and his gay friend were not the most intelligent, adding that Viktoria is taking hormone replacement therapy to take on the physical characteristics of a woman.
He "did not have enough money for the surgery and asked relatives but we all refused. The next thing we knew was that they were wanted by the police after it was found they had gone to join ISIS. Viktor had been walking around in women's clothes and wearing makeup and was living with his mom before converting to radical Islam," said the aunt.
She added that Viktor's mom "told him that he would probably be killed if he went there dressed as a woman, but he said that if he could travel there as a woman, he believed they would accept him as a woman."
A former teacher said that Viktor "was a boy. He had girlfriends, had a very short haircut, clothes without any decoration. He was a typical guy. And then later he came here to school to get a copy of his diploma with a different name on it, Viktoria instead of Viktor." At that time, he was "wearing a short skirt, earrings and with long hair. He told me: 'change my diploma from Viiktor to Viktoria. If you don't do so, I will complain.'"
Viktor apparently had a violent characteristic that would be a match for ISIS, as according to a former girlfriend of his he beat her regularly.
"Viktor was very strange...he beat me black and blue," she said. "But I didn't complain to police because he threatened me with his older brother. He said that it would be bad for me."
When she tried to break up with him he hit her harder. "I came to school with a huge bruise under my eye. I was asked what happened, and I could not say, because one teacher was close to his mother. They hushed it up," she said, noting that when he said he wanted to be a girl and date boys she was shocked. After they broke up he kept her dresses, and as she recalls, "I saw him in one of my dresses."
Viktor and Alexei's approach to radical Islam came under curious circumstances, according to Bashir Bashirov, head of the Union of Muslims of Kamchatka.
"The first time they came to pray was about a year ago...they said they were man and wife. The mosque is open to everyone, so how can we prohibit anyone coming? We treated the newcomers as Muslims, we couldn't even imagine there were not straight. And how can one tell?"
Soon thereafter the two hooked on to radical Islam and "started blaming us for stepping aside from pure Islam...I personally tried to change their minds but in vain. They stopped attending prayers and started telling everyone that we delude ourselves and practice Islam in a wrong way."