The women and children were taken from a camp in northern Syria by a German government team with the support of the US Air Force. The women have been there for years.
Most of the women were arrested upon their arrival in Germany. “These mothers will have to be held accountable for their actions in court. However, the children are not to blame in this situation and we will do everything we can to ensure that they grow up safely and in a good environment,” says Maas.
Repatriation is seen as a humanitarian process, but critics fear the import of terrorism. “The situation in the region is very difficult and millions of people depend on humanitarian aid, and the people of Syria – including our acquaintances – face severe challenges every day,” the minister said.
In addition to the women from Germany, three alleged ISIS supporters from Denmark were also taken on the plane with their 14 children.
Repatriating ISIS members and their children from Syria is politically sensitive. Official government policy is not to return Dutch ISIS detainees, due to internal security considerations. The Supreme Court has previously ruled that the Netherlands is not obligated to return home.
However, last June a Dutch government delegation brought a Dutch ISIS woman and three children from northern Syria, so she could be tried in the Netherlands. This was the first time a person was chosen in this way with diplomatic representation.
According to the AIVD, approximately 30 Dutch women and 75 children are still being held in camps in northeastern Syria.
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