ISIS trained Dutch, Belgian women to commit attacks: report

A destroyed neighborhood in Raqqa, Syria, 1 Aug 2017
A destroyed neighborhood in Raqqa, Syria, 1 Aug 2017Photo: Mahmoud Bali / Wikimedia Commons

Terrorist organization Islamic State trained three women, one Dutch and two Belgian, to commit terrorist attacks in Europe, a Belgian ISIS member arrested in Syria revealed during questioning, Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws reports. The newspaper was given exclusive access to the transcripts of the Belgian jihadist's questioning by American soldiers.

The man was arrested by Syrian Kurds in August, and interrogated by American soldiers. According to the newspaper, he was quick to say what his fellow countrymen were up to for ISIS, but remained silent about plans for attacks in the West. Only in October did he finally agree to speak.

"ISIS trained women to become terrorists", he said. "They learned how to deal with explosives, after which they were prepared to travel to Europe via Turkey." He named three names, one Dutch woman and two Belgian women. 

According to the Belgian jihadists, one of the Belgian women was emphatically in the spotlight in the ISIS caliphate. "She aroused resentment because she was openly walking around with weapons", he said. Many in the caliphate were angry because they see the carrying of weapons as a male privilege.

The transcripts don't make clear when these women were trained, or where they are at present, according to the newspaper. 

An estimated 280 Dutch traveled to Syria or Iraq to join a terrorist organization in the Syrian civil war since 2012. Exactly how many of them are women, is not known.  Xaviera S., a 24-year-old woman from Apeldoorn, was one of 14 people arrested in Turkey on Tuesday on suspicion of belonging to ISIS. The Netherlands requested her extradition. And last week another woman was arrested at Schiphol upon her return from Syria. 

Perhaps the best known Dutch female Dutch jihadist is Laura H. She left for Syria with her husband, toddler daughter and infant son in September 2015. A year later she managed to escape the caliphate. With the help of her father and the Kurdish militia, Laura left the ISIS controlled area, with her son in one arm and holding her daughter's hand with the other. Her husband was hit by bullets and remained behind during her flight. 

Back in the Netherlands, Laura H. was immediately arrested. The Public Prosecutor was initially worried that she returned to commit an attack. No evidence of that could be found, but she is still convicted for participating in a terrorist organization.


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