Swedish authorities have arrested a middle-aged woman belonging to the Islamic State terrorist organization who is believed to have carried out major war crimes in Syria during the group’s self-declared Caliphate, including making her teenage son become a child soldier.
The 49-year-old woman was arrested last December for war crimes and breaking international law at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport after returning from Syria. She is believed to have forcibly married off her daughters to IS jihadists and to have made one of her sons, who was under the age of 15 at the time, become a child soldier for the terrorist organization, Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reports.
Speaking on the women’s crimes, which are alleged to have taken place between 2013 and 2017 after she traveled to Syria with her five children, Swedish Prosecutor Reena Devgun said: “She is suspected of having contributed together and in agreement with others to the use of a child under the age of 15 as a child soldier.”
“This is the first time, to my knowledge, that we are examining the issue of child soldiers in Swedish courts. It’s an unusual case,” the prosecutor continued, adding that interrogations still needed to be conducted.
Last spring, Swedish state broadcaster SVT released photos of the accused women’s children posing with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), machine guns, and alongside Islamic State terrorists. The news outlet also claimed to have images of the children posing alongside mutilated corpses, although it refrained from releasing them to the public.
The woman, upon being arrested when she arrived in Sweden, had both of her kids taken away from her and placed under the care of the state. Her two sons, aged 14 and 18, who became child soldiers, are said to have died in Syria.
So far, the accused woman has categorically denied all allegations against her.
Earlier this month, two women — both suspected of committing war crimes in Syria — were arrested at Stockholm’s airport after having traveled from territories previously controlled by the Islamic State. One of the two women is suspected of genocide and committing crimes against humanity.
In March, Swedish authorities handed a 31-year-old woman a three-year prison sentence after finding her guilty of taking her 2-year-old son to an Islamic State-controlled area of Syria in 2014. Before leaving, she had told the child’s father that she and her son were going on holiday to Turkey, which he agreed to. However, after arriving in Turkey, the woman crossed the border into IS-controlled territory in Syria, where her and the child stayed until 2017, before moving onto Tunisia where she lived with an IS fighter and gave birth to two children. Upon making her way back to Turkey, she was arrested and extradited to Sweden.
In the same month, authorities in Norway sentenced a 30-year-old woman living in Norway to three and a half years in prison for participating in the Islamic State terrorist group. The case was the first of its kind in Norway.