Cabinet brings back woman from Syria with alleged ties to ISIS to begin trial
Ilham B. was picked up in Syria on Friday by a Dutch delegation who will transfer her to the Netherlands. B. went to Syria in 2013 when she was 19-years-old to join the terrorist organization ISIS. She was brought back by the Cabinet because there is a pending court case against her in the Netherlands, NOS reported. It is the first time the Netherlands has actively retrieved an adult from a former ISIS territory.
The judge responsible for the case warned last year that he would close the case against B. if the Netherlands did not make an effort to bring her back from Syria. According to the Cabinet, “an exceptional opportunity” presented itself on Friday to transfer the woman and her two children to the Netherlands. A third child was also brought back along with the family. The child had been the victim of an international child abduction, NOS stated.
The lawyer of B., Tamara Buruma, said she is glad the Netherlands is “finally taking responsibility”. Buruma said she had been working for three years to bring her client back. B. was first prosecuted in 2016 for joining a terrorist organization. As long as B. is absent, she cannot be sentenced.
Buruma has not yet been in contact with B. who will be arrested immediately upon her arrival in the Netherlands. Her two children will be taken into the care of child protection services. B. left the Netherlands in 2013 and traveled to Syria to marry a Dutch Syrian man who worked for the ISIS police. The couple lived in Aleppo and later moved to the ISIS capital Raqqa. After the fall of the caliphate, they fell into the hands of the Kurdish forces. B. was held in a Kurdish prison camp until she was picked up by the Dutch delegation on Friday.
According to B.’s lawyer, a country always remains responsible for its own citizens. “As far as I’m concerned, there is no difference between the responsibility that the Netherlands has for someone who commits dozens of murders here and some who traveled to another place.”
In 2017, B. gave an interview to the Flemish broadcaster VRT under the fictitious name Aisha. During the interview she said she did not regret her decision to join ISIS, “I learned a lot. In the Netherlands, you don’t see much of the outside world. Here, you see things, experience things. For example, that a rocket is approaching your house. That is a life experience that no one in the Netherlands has.”
B. said she realizes that she will end up in prison upon her return to the Netherlands and hoped for a second chance.