Swedish ISIS recruit who escaped Syria’s Al Hol camp loses custody of her children

Authorities believe woman, 31, let her children play with weapons

FILE PHOTO: Women walk through al-Hol displacement camp in Hasaka governorate, Syria April 1, 2019. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho/File Photo
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A Swedish ISIS recruiter suspected of war crimes lost custody of her children after returning to her homeland.

The mother-of-three, 31, who has not been named, is suspected to have let her children play with weapons and is believed to have recruited other women and girls to the terrorist group.

She had been held in the Al Hol refugee camp in Syria, from where she escaped, and was returned to Sweden in November last year.

Swedish authorities ordered that two of her children be taken from her and her eldest child, a boy aged nine, returned to his father.

In 2014, she left his father in Sweden and took their child to Syria.

There, she married an ISIS fighter with whom she had another two children, now aged two and three.

As a suspected recruiter for the terrorist group, the woman was on an international wanted list. A court hearing is due to start this month.

Her lawyer, Lars Kruse, told Sweden's Expressen newspaper the woman was "deceived" into travelling to Raqqa in search of religion and once there "she could not escape".

“My client was attracted to travel to Syria, where she was deprived of her freedom from day one,” he said. “No evidence has been presented at all for the allegations made about participation in ISIS.

“My client is a young Swedish Muslim woman who sought comfort in God during a life crisis and was tempted to travel to Syria.

“Against all odds, she has managed to escape from a Kurdish prison camp with three small children and get to what she thought was security in Sweden. Instead, she was deprived of her freedom again.”

Her legal team has appointed US psychiatrist Anne Speckhard, an expert in terrorism, to speak on the woman’s behalf.

The accused, from Landskrona, western Sweden, was charged at Lund District Court with gross arbitrariness with children.

Last September, she and three other female Swedish ISIS supporters and their nine children escaped from the Al Hol camp after paying smugglers to help them.

They were caught and detained in Turkey, where a delegation from Sweden’s Foreign Ministry negotiated their repatriation.

Their return home was delayed while authorities awaited DNA test results to confirm the children’s relationships to the women.

On arrival in Stockholm they were met by police, security services and social services and interrogated. The children were placed in care and monitored to ensure they had not been radicalised.

The children's representative, lawyer Ulrika Rogland, told the court about her concerns that the youngsters had played with weapons, Expressen reported.

Her three children have been described as “physically well-nourished with good dental status and well-behaved”.

One of the woman who escaped the camp and returned to Sweden was a widow, 48, who left the country to travel to Syria in 2011 with two of her children.

Another went to Syria when she was 19.

Sweden is focusing on returning orphans of ISIS recruits abroad and last year it repatriated seven youngsters from Al Hol.