Profile of jihadists returning from Syria scaring France. News headlines and events from Last Minute France


Disagreements are growing in France over the wives and children of jihadists returned to the country after fighting for ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Finally, his jihadist wife, 15 women and 32 children, brought in on January 25, sparked a debate over the security of the country. The French secret service has issued a report warning the government about the profile of the newly imported female jihadists. Experts who said the women and children brought in would pose a threat to France’s security, but say that women and children should be treated with special understanding.

Since 2014, about 1,700 radical jihadists from France have joined the ranks of ISIS. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, about 450 people died on the battlefield, 300 people returned. Among them are men, women and children born before and during the war. Others continue to fight or remain in camps in Syria and Iraq.

The French government has repeatedly stated that these remaining individuals should be tried in the countries where they were captured and fought whenever possible, even if that meant the death penalty. However, in the end, when European countries one after another agreed to accept their citizens, France also agreed to accept its citizens under pressure from the UN and the ECtHR.

“No European country behaved like France”

Emmanuel Dowd, one of the lawyers for families of returned jihadists, often criticizes that “the warnings of the UN Committee against Torture were also effective. No European country has treated its citizens the way France has.” Counter-terrorism experts, on the other hand, respond to this criticism: “No country has had as many terrorist attacks as France, and no other European country has had so many jihadists in Syria.”

An intelligence report to the French government says that the French still continue to fight, “die and kill” on the side of ISIS or other jihadist organizations. An official source providing information to the newspaper Le Figaro reports that on January 15, 28-year-old French citizen Sufyan Marabet was killed in the Jebel ez-Zawiya mountain range, about 30 km south of Idlib. This death confirms the repeated fears of French and Western intelligence agencies; jihadist movements have weakened but still exist.

In 2015, when ISIS was active, about 27,000 foreign fighters, of whom at least 1,700 were French, joined ISIS from 86 countries. On the one hand, these foreign fighters are still fighting in the deserts and mountains, and the women and children left in the camps are sent to their countries.

In their report, French anti-terror prosecutors and judges drew attention to the “extremely radical profile” of 15 women who returned to the country with 32 children on January 25 last week and warned the authorities about the safety of the population. “We must put an end to the myth of women returning from camps in northeast Syria who were victims of ISIS or France’s belated decision to return them,” anti-terror investigators said, noting that the women had “harsh and frightening” profiles.

Investigators use the following statements about these women in the report: “The returnees are returning precisely because they are tired of the extremely difficult living conditions in the camps and do not see how to continue their struggle in the region. However, they remain deeply rooted. in their terrorist and Islamist radicalism. These are famous people. Now mostly the wives of men with duties in the Islamic State. Some of the predecessors of the Islamic State actively contributed to the formation of the ISIS society and defending it to the end. They are women who did not surrender even in the battle of Baghuz, ready to fight to the death, even at the risk of their children being kidnapped.”

Specialists in the fight against terrorism draw attention to the difference between the first repatriates and the last two groups. In particular, she draws attention to the fact that 15 women aged 19 to 56 who returned this week and October 20, 2022 did not return voluntarily, but with the aim of escaping from camp conditions. Many French jihadist women and children in Syria and Iraq report they do not want to return to their families.

The report emphasizes that the profile of “a woman who was radicalized via the Internet, quickly left for Syria and then returned regretfully”: “The last women to come to Syria in the region have been killed by ISIS for a very long time.” It is claimed that there are tough and radical women who play a role in establishing, managing and spreading the policy of terror in the camps after 2019, who do not give up their thoughts and ideology.

Public jurist and political scientist D. Laurent Lemasson Figaro told Vox magazine that a total of 46 mothers and 107 children have been brought to France in the last three operations: “Others will no doubt follow because there are still hundreds of jihadist children, and France has a strong judicial system in place to bring them back to their lands. and under diplomatic pressure. These returns are taking place quietly because public opinion is largely hostile to them, but since these jihadists and their children retain French citizenship, this citizenship bond is predictable and even inevitable, as it imposes obligations on the authorities. The only alternative is to be convicted in another country for the crimes they committed there.” This was the option the French government would have chosen, but it did not happen. “Children should not be endangered by the French.”

Posing with a child and a Kalashnikov in his arms

According to the report, the women brought in with the last two columns were the driving force behind helping the men perpetuate their ideology, in addition to participating in ISIS’s “Birth a Child for the Islamic State” project. Their role has further intensified since the Islamic State’s appeal to women in 2017. Investigators say they know that some of them are not only members of the Islamist police, but are also trained in the use of weapons and take part in the formation of militant groups. French intelligence also has many photographs of women posing “with babies in their arms, with Kalashnikovs in their hands.” Moreover, there is evidence that some of them mistreated or even tortured women working in their homes. They also took an active part in raising their children in accordance with ISIS doctrine.

As for the camps in northeast Syria, there are also reports of female returnees taking active steps, such as attacking or setting fire to the tents of those who have lost faith in ISIS, and to “maintain Islamist order in the tents.”

“We have enough material to reconstruct the ways, roles and abuses they may have committed,” the report continues, starting with military evidence collected by American and Kurdish officials.

The intelligence report, which was also reflected in the French media, highlights that military evidence collected by French intelligence units with the assistance of the American and Kurdish authorities, as well as the testimony of jihadists currently imprisoned in French prisons, a large amount of information was collected and evidence. Finally, it appears from the statements and reports of the families that none of these women has “repented” and does not continue to believe in the harsh jihadist ideology.

The children’s profile is also a concern

Underage children returning to France are also of more concern to French authorities than in the past, according to Le Figaro newspaper. France’s policy was to repatriate the youngest in 2019. Today, due to circumstances, repatriated minors are mostly teenagers and teenagers. For this reason, they are all children who were subjected to violence and radicalism during the time of ISIS, and then in the camps. In the last group that returned, there were three children over 13 years old. Just like in the previous group, there are children who are trained for war and taken to conflicts. All these children are under the close supervision of anti-terrorist units.

All these findings raise the question of the return of these women, who were tried monthly in Paris for 5 to 6 years in correctional institutions or harsh sentences. In the early years of the return, the women, most of whom repented, were rarely held accountable. But now women are systematically held accountable. Just last Friday, 4 women were convicted on charges of terrorism and imprisoned in the suburbs of Paris, as well as in the cities of Rennes and Lille. It is stated that for the time being, only anti-radical departments are allocated for these women, and they do not create a special zone in prisons, as is the case with men, some of them are placed in solitary confinement, depending on their profile.

Montbrial: “The country cannot watch them”

In his analysis on the subject, Thibault de Montbrial, head of the Center for Reflections on Internal Security, said: “From a moral point of view, the only obligation of the French Republic is to protect its citizens. But the repatriation of French women and children who left the country to fight for the Islamic State is devastating France, putting you at risk of violence,” he said. He stated that France did not have enough capacity to follow these people.

“These returns present a double problem for our country. First of all, this is a direct security issue, because the majority of women who join ISIS are more determined, often even more so than men, which means that they are determined whether they participate in acts of violence or not,” Montbrial said. Therefore, their return to France, sooner or later, exposes all our citizens to the risk of acts of violence committed by one or another person. Moreover, the return of these women further heightens the ideological risk of Islamist proselytism. After all, Islam is in radical circles. Joining its state is a kind of prestige,” he says.

Public jurist and political scientist D. Laurent Lemasson explains the dilemma of the French government: “According to Islamist ideology, women rarely took part in the fighting, but it would be naive to believe that they were less fanatical or less dangerous than men. Repatriated women will, of course, be judged, and possibly condemned. probably in 10 years They will be released. It will not be possible to prevent them from proselytizing while in prison. It will be impossible to carefully monitor them when they are released, at best in a few months. Moreover, we do not know how to get rid of extremism. Therefore, to repatriate these women means to objectively increase the number of hardened jihadists in our land,” he explains.

As for the children, Lemasson takes a different view of them, saying that “they will be transferred to social services and legal protection, then transferred to their families, if any, and will wait for the release of the mother from prison. what will happen when they reach adulthood, and as we sometimes hear, they are called “time bombs”. It’s absolutely pointless to talk about it. They are as innocent as any child in the world until proven otherwise. Children are not clones of their parents.

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