On Thursday night, the German government brought eight women from the Islamic State terror group and their 23 children back to the country from Syria in a secret operation. After their arrival, the women were detained. Arrest warrants were issued for six of them, three of which were from the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Karlsruhe, which deals with terrorism.
“Children are not to blame for their parents’ mistakes. It is right that we are doing everything we can for them to live in a safe and good environment,“ said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, adding, “Mothers will have to be held accountable for their actions.“
According to security sources, the women are between 30 and 38 years old and have spent the last year with their children in POW camps in the northeast of the country, which is controlled by the Kurds.
The minister claimed that mainly sick children were on the plane along with those who have siblings or guardians that live in Germany.
Der Spiegel wrote that one of the women left for Syria in 2015, learned to handle weapons there and probably served in the religious police, which oversees the observance of good morals from the point of view of Islamic law.
Another woman in the group promoted the Islamic State on Internet forums and persuaded at least one 16-year-old German to leave for Syria.
The transfer of the women and children to Germany was conducted with logistical supported from the United States. On board were also three women and their 14 children, who were returned to Denmark.
The plane first flew from Syria to Kuwait and from there to Germany, arriving at the airport in Frankfurt am Main shortly before midnight.
Largest repatriation flight in two years
This is not the first time that the German government has allowed people who have flown to Syria and joined the Islamic State to return, but it is the largest flight in two years.
Since the fall of the Islamic State in March 2019, all countries whose citizens have set out to fight or live alongside Islamists have undertaken similar repatriation flights.
However, repatriations are accompanied by great security measures and are usually decided on a case-by-case basis.
According to the daily Bild, there are still 70 adult German citizens and about 150 children in the camps under the administration of the Kurds.