Belgium is going to retrieve a group of six Belgian women and their ten children from the Al-Roj prison camp in Syria. Which report Belgian media. The women were members of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organization and will immediately go to prison on arrival in Belgium. The children go to relatives or a foster family.
The group was transferred to Erbil in Iraq on Friday and then flew on to Brussels, where they are expected to arrive this weekend. It is the first time that the Belgian state is recalling IS members from Syria. There are still three Belgian women in camp Al-Roj, two of whom are not allowed to travel back by the government and the other does not want to return. In camp Al-Hol, where former IS members are also imprisoned, there are still four IS women with thirteen children. Due to the security situation in that camp, the women and children cannot be retrieved for the time being.
The decision to bring back children of IS women up to the age of 12 was taken in March. According to the Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, Belgian authorities should not be blind to the increasing insecurity in the camps, where often still a strong influence of IS supporters. “If you leave children there, those children will be the terrorists of tomorrow,” he said.
It was checked for each child whether their mothers could also participate. In addition, IS women had to sign a document in which they accept that their children can be taken back to Belgium, even if they are not allowed to return themselves. Despite only three women signing that document, the government has decided to allow another three women to return with their children.
Also read: Who is Ilham B., the first Syrian traveler who recently brought back the Netherlands?
In the Netherlands, too, a debate has been raging for some time about whether or not to bring back IS women from Syria. In June, an IS mobster, 27-year-old Ilham B., was taken back with her three young children for the first time. It is unclear whether the Dutch state also wants to do the same with the 44 other Syrians – men and women – and their 75 children. Outgoing ministers Grapperhaus (Justice, CDA) and Kaag (Foreign Affairs, D66) did say that B.’s repatriation was an ‘exceptional occasion’.