The return of the children of Jihad to surveillance

Belgium is betting to deactivate the very existing fundamentalist ideology among its citizens deported from Syria.

From Syria to Belgium

Belgium is betting to deactivate the very existing fundamentalist ideology among its citizens deported from Syria.

From our correspondent Max Halef (Brussels) – Belgium has just repatriated 16 jihadist children and six mothers who were destitute in the Kurdish-controlled al-Hall camp (northeastern Syria). Everyone is Belgian.

Drug trafficking puts the Brussels municipality back in the spotlight.

Not a coincidence or calendar, the much awaited verdict will return this week when these exfiltrations interfere. The first in the trial of the Paris attacks which is currently coming to an end; The second is the so-called “Little Paris” trial, meaning the November 13 terrorists’ small-arms presence in Brussels.

A sensitive and risky issue

In recent years, the possibility of this return has been much debated. Can we repatriate children knowing that they can bring back with them the ideals that animated their parents? And if the children are repatriated, do they have to take the risk with their mother that she will remain loyal to Daesh?

We want to give these children a future.

Alexander de Crew, Prime Minister of Belgium

The country’s prime minister, Alexander de Crew, has ruled in favor of repatriation. In March 2021, Flemish liberals pledged to “do everything” for the repatriation of children under the age of 12 whose Belgian parents proved. “Children have absolutely nothing to do with the bad choices of their parents. We want to give these children a future, ”he said at the time.

When he says “we”, Alexander de Crew is talking about his government, from October 2020. In fact, as the defeat of the Islamic State became apparent towards the end of the previous decade, many voices there pleaded for it. No possible returns. According to some analysts, the risk of importing terrorism to Belgium is not negligible.

140 Belgians have returned to the country and have been or are being tried

Eventually, a final repatriation was able to take place on June 21st. However, children and mothers will be subject to “permanent monitoring” which is “easy to confirm on Belgian soil”. The women, who have already been convicted in Belgium for taking part in the activities of a terrorist group, were brought to justice after their arrival.

The judge gave the Belgian state time to get the mothers of the children to sign so that they could approve their departure from the camp.

About 50 people have been convicted to date in connection with the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

The expulsion is the main operation of its kind since the fall of the Islamic State group in 2019 and the detention of hundreds of women and children associated with jihadists in camps under Kurdish control.

A decade has passed since the first Belgians left for Syria. According to sources, their number was between 400 and 500 to join the Islamic State. 140 countries have had to return to trial. Many died in the war. Some are missing.

A humane and strategic choice

Today, two childless women – therefore not eligible to return – and two mothers of five (who refuse to abandon Islamic ideology) remain in the camp.

There is a part of this file off. “The Belgian women and children who may have been deported from the Syrian camp have been repatriated to Belgium,” said Federal Prosecutor Frederick Van Liu. A previous operation took place in 2021 The prosecutor noted that all of the deported children were born between 2010 and 2019 and were immediately placed under the authority of youth services and prosecutors. According to the Threat Analysis Body (OCAM), “some of them are still receptive to Daesh’s ideology.”

Belgian society is therefore betting on the future. A bet is partly humane, but also strategic because the presence of returnees on national territory tells authorities that it will be easier to monitor them. There will be no room for error.

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