ISIS supporters channel funds to free families in Syria camps

Britain-based sympathisers have set up international crowdfunding operation, report says

Women walk at Camp Roj, housing family members of people accused to belong to the Islamic State (IS) group who were relocated from al-Hol camp, in the countryside near al-Malikiyah (Derik) in Syria's northeastern Hasakah province on September 30, 2020.  / AFP / Delil SOULEIMAN

ISIS supporters across Europe are using fund-raising apps to smuggle women and children out of detention camps in Syria, it has been reported.

Female supporters of the terror group are getting funds from sympathisers in Britain and other European countries to pay for illegal transport.

Camp inmates have been using mobile phones to make emotional appeals to a network of supporters about their squalid living conditions.

It is understood that hundreds of European women who became ISIS brides and had children are stuck in the camps after their husbands were either killed or jailed.

To help them escape, sympathisers in Britain have set up and promoted an international crowdfunding operation that relies on an encrypted messaging app, The Sunday Times  reported.

The cost to release a woman and three children is between $10,000 and $15,000.

“If 10 people send $1,000 each, we will reach the goal," a woman, purportedly being held in a camp, posted on Facebook.

"Or if 20 people give $500 each, we will reach it as well. Free your sisters from the camps. Spread the word.”

The post was shared by at least a dozen women across England.

With many stripped of their citizenship, the British women are unlikely to return home by legal means.

The donations are said to go from Britain to Germany where middlemen organise the illegal funding for extremists to flee.

Across Europe there appears to be a network of sympathisers trying to spring ISIS women from the camps.

A man from Holland appeared in court last month accused of helping 12 women who were on a terror watchlists, and French police have held 29 people involved in gathering funds for the camps.

The women have copied the style of emotive films made for real humanitarian charities, in which they show graphic images of their poor camp conditions then complain of strip searches and assaults.

The films are put on Facebook and distributed widely.

“Imagine you have small children with you in this room experiencing the same thing, with the enemy showing no mercy,” another woman said in an appeal.

“In fact, they enjoy seeing your suffering, weakness and helplessness.

"You are hit in the face, beaten and strip-searched in front of your children, while they cry and scream, unable to understand.”

At the end of the pleading footage a link is given as a “how to help” guide, which gives account details on an encrypted Telegram messaging app.

The cash is sent through mainstream money distributors such as Bitcoin, Paypal or Western Union, and then on to the escape organisers.

When the cash is secured the middlemen, probably operating from Germany, send it to a fixer in the camp who bribes the guards to release the ISIS prisoners, it was reported.

They are then taken to the rebel-held city of Idlib or other areas and smuggled out of Syria into Turkey.