German mother charged after signing up her teenage son to ISIS

Stefanie A was arrested in March, after she flew back to Germany following the defeat of ISIS

Women displaced from Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor province, walk in a market inside the al-Hol camp for displaced people, in al-Hasakeh governorate in northeastern Syria on April 18, 2019.  Dislodged in a final offensive by a Kurdish-led ground force and coalition air strikes, thousands of wives and children of IS fighters have flooded in from a string of Syrian villages south of the al-Hol camp in recent months.
Among the hordes of Syrians and Iraqis, some 9,000 foreigners are held in a fenced section of the encampment, under the watch of Kurdish forces. / AFP / Delil SOULEIMAN

A German woman whose son of 15 died fighting for ISIS in Syria has been charged with terrorist offences.

The woman, identified only as Stefanie A by German prosecutors, travelled to Syria in 2016 with her son, then 13, to try to join up with her husband, who had joined ISIS the previous year.

Unable to reach her husband in northern city Raqqa, she travelled via Turkey to north-western city Idlib, where she signed up with the Al Qaeda-linked Jund Al Aqsa group and allowed her son to receive weapons training and become a fighter for the extremist group, according to German federal prosecutors.

The following year, she travelled to Raqqa with other members of the group and joined up with her husband in Raqqa.

The family was bankrolled by ISIS and allowed their son to have religious and military training with ISIS.

The child was used in combat operations and died at the age of 15, in a bomb attack in March 2018, according to German prosecutors.

“Stefanie A then got in touch with her [older] son who was still living in Germany and asked him to be happy about the ‘martyrdom’ of his younger brother,” prosecutors said.

She wore a suicide belt and carried a rifle while a member of ISIS.

She and her husband remained loyal to the group and surrendered to Kurdish troops in Baghouz in February 2019. They were held at the Al Hawl refugee camp in northern Syria.

Stefanie A returned to Germany and was arrested in March this year at Berlin Airport.

She has been charged with membership of two foreign terrorist groups, breaking weapons laws and committing her son as a fighter to a foreign terrorist group.

It was not immediately clear how she returned to Germany, but the government has been repatriating women and children who are in the camps.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said last month that “the mothers will have to answer for their acts”.

Last month, a woman was jailed for 10 years in Germany, after allowing a Yazidi girl of 5 – who she and her husband kept as a slave – to die of thirst in the sun in Iraq.

A study in 2017 found that more than 900 Germans travelled to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS. More than 20 per cent were women – a high proportion compared with other countries.

Updated: November 16th 2021, 9:43 AM
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