Convicted Dutch terrorist helped 12 women escape ISIS camps, Prosecutor says
Former member of the Hofstad group and convicted terrorist Samir A. helped at least 12 women who are on the national terrorism sanction list escape from ISIS camps in Syria, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) said in the court in Rotterdam on Thursday, NU.nl reports.
The OM said that the women are or were on the terrorism sanction list because they were suspected of involvement in terrorist activities. That was why their assets were frozen, and the financial support A. gave them can therefore be characterized as financing terrorism. "Samir A. played a crucial role in the escapes," the OM said. "He is part of an international network of smugglers and his actions keep these women out of sight of governments and allow them to return unseen to their country of origin or move freely in Syria and rejoin ISIS."
A. does not deny supporting the women financially, but sees it as emergency aid, his lawyer Tamara Buruma said in court. She pointed out that the only way these women could escape the terrorist organization is with the help of smugglers. A. said that he gave the women only enough money to live on. "The large amounts went to the smugglers," he said.
Buruma said that her client gave several interviews in March 2019 in which he already admitted to raising money to help the women and children in detention- and refugee camps in Syria. At that same time he also contacted the OM to bring this to its attention, the lawyer said.
According to the OM, some of the women A. helped escape have moved to Idlib, where many ISIS fighters are still located. None of the women returned to the Netherlands so the emergency aid explanation "as sketched by the defense" holds no water, the OM said.
The court said that it was aware of the dire situation in the Syrian camps and called this a "case of principle", but still decided to remand A. into custody until the next hearing on December 15.