Dutch woman jailed on Syria terrorism charges

Woman jailed in Netherlands for 'taking part in terrorist organisations and preparing crimes'

Women and children walk at Camp Roj, where relatives of people suspected of belonging to the Islamic State (IS) group are held, in the countryside near al-Malikiyah (Derik) in Syria's northeastern Hasakah province, on March 28, 2021. Roj, one of two Kurdish-run displacement camps housing foreign family members of suspected IS fighters, is smaller and better guarded than its overcrowded counterpart Al-Hol, which has been rocked by assassinations and breakout attempts in recent months.  / AFP / Delil SOULEIMAN
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The first woman to be taken home from Syria to stand trial in the Netherlands on Wednesday received a prison sentence of three and a half years for joining ISIS.

The woman, identified only as Ilham B, 28, was repatriated last year from Al Roj detention camp in north-east Syria after she joined ISIS and Jabhat Al Nusra militants with her husband in 2013.

Rotterdam District Court said Ilham B was "sentenced to 42 months in jail of which were 12 suspended, for taking part in terrorist organisations and preparing various crimes".

"The court is satisfied she participated in Syria in the IS and Jabhat Al Nusra terrorist organisations," it said.

Prosecutors, who demanded an eight-year sentence, said Ilham B also sent out extremist propaganda on social media and carried guns during her time in Syria.

The judges rejected her defence that she "lived in a bubble in Syria and did not know what was going on".

They said there were "ample sources of information she could have consulted, the length of her stay, her husband's function and the content of her online messages".

Ilham B, from the western Dutch city of Gouda, left the Netherlands in September 2013 to travel to Syria through Turkey, court papers said.

Captured by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in 2017, she was eventually found in the sprawling Roj camp where she had a second child.

In June 2021 she was taken back to the Netherlands by Dutch officials through Iraq, and arrested on arrival at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam.

The return of extremists to stand trial in the Netherlands is a politically sensitive subject and the Dutch NCTV anti-terror agency has warned that returning women may give an "impulse to connecting and supporting" extremist activities.

In February the government took five women from Al Roj camp to put them on trial in the Netherlands.

The move came after a Rotterdam court last year warned it may have to drop charges against the women if they were not brought back within a matter of months.

Aboit 300 Dutch extremists travelled to join fighters of the now defunct "caliphate" during the height of the Syrian civil war, Dutch government figures show.

About 120 remained, many in camps and detention centres in northern Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

Updated: June 02, 2022, 12:42 AM