New Zealand to accept ISIS-linked woman

The New Zealand-born woman held in Turkey had her Australian citizenship revoked last year

A woman walks with a child at a camp for Islamic State (IS) group-affiliated people in the northern Syrian village of Malikiya near the border with Turkey on September 29, 2018. Syria's Kurds are holding hundreds of alleged foreign fighters from the Islamic State group, but say they will not try them and have urged their home countries to repatriate them. / AFP / Delil souleiman

New Zealand announced on Monday that it would accept a woman linked to ISIS and her two children, after Australia cancelled her citizenship.

The New Zealand-born woman – identified as Suhayra Aden – moved to Australia when she was 6 and was a dual citizen until Canberra stripped her of citizenship last year.

At the time, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “terrorists who fought with terrorist organisations” forfeited the privilege of citizenship.

Ms Aden, 26, moved from Australia to Syria in 2014 and lived under ISIS.

She told news organisation ABC at a Syrian refugee camp in 2019 that she had been married to two Swedish ISIS fighters who both died.

Ms Aden and her children have been held in Turkey since crossing the border from Syria in February.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said cancelling her citizenship would leave the family stateless.

“They are not Turkey's responsibility, and with Australia refusing to accept the family, that makes them ours,” she said on Monday.

Ms Ardern, who previously hit out at Canberra for “abdicating responsibility” in the case, said the woman and her children would now be returned to New Zealand at Turkey's request.

While not revealing details about the arrangements, she said great care was being taken to minimise any risk to New Zealanders.

“Planning by agencies has been two-fold — to ensure all appropriate steps are in place to address potential security concerns and to have the right services in place to support reintegration, with particular focus on the well-being of the children,” she said.

After detaining the family, the Turkish defence ministry identified her as a “Daesh terrorist” and said they had been caught trying to enter illegally.

Updated: July 26th 2021, 9:22 AM