Radicalized wives & kids of ISIS fighters ‘must be identified as jihadis’ – German intel chief
While many of the male fighters who travelled to fight for Islamic State have yet to return, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency has other worries. Hans-Georg Maassen is greatly concerned with the threat posed by their wives and children.
“There are children who have been brainwashed and highly radicalized at ‘schools’ in IS-held areas. It’s a problem for us because many of these kids and teenagers can sometimes be dangerous,” Maassen warned Sunday in an interview with the Deutsche Presse Agentur (dpa) news agency, as cited by Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Massen added that women returning to Germany from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) strongholds “had become so radicalized and identify so deeply with IS-ideology that, by all accounts, they must also be identified as jihadis… we have to keep them in our sights.”
IS launched its insurgency, which sought to carve out its own caliphate in Iraq and Syria, in 2014. Since then, approximately 950 German jihadis, 20 percent of whom were female, travelled to the Levant to fight for the Islamist group, reports Deutsche Welle. Roughly one third of these 950 German fighters have already returned home, the majority of whom are women and children.
“We haven’t seen any significant flows of male fighters returning home,” Maassen said. “We assume that Westerners still fighting with IS to this day intend to stay there until the very end, and will only then seek to settle in Europe once again.”
German media reported last week that the government was considering plans to repatriate the children of German IS fighters, according to Deutsche Welle. Roughly 700 Islamists are currently estimated to live in Germany, and are believed to pose a significant security risk.
IS has suffered near-total military defeat in the Middle East, holding on to just a handful of minor strongholds along the Iraq-Syria border. However, while its military power has dwindled, Maassen warns that the threat posed by IS terrorists is far from over.
“They are saying: ‘You don’t have to travel to Syria and Iraq to fight. You can carry out jihad at home, as well,’” Maassen added. “Therefore, many of those who had already packed their suitcases to travel to these jihadi territories decided to stay at home instead.”
The issue of ISIS wives and widows, who along with their children return home, remains controversial. While some see them as victims, others believe them to be terrorists who should be punished for their crimes.
“These are people who are dangerous extremist terrorists. All of our countries should support Syria and Iraq in ensuring that these people are properly prosecuted and brought to justice,” Andre Walker, a political commentator for the New York Observer, said back in September.
Of course, as could be expected, there was a quick reaction from the “moderate” Muslims. This time it was the fake British political commentator Mo Ansar who proclaimed that seeking vengeance and persecuting the wives of ISIS fighters, might backfire and result in the further spread of extremist ideologies across Europe. “Certainly the wives and children are innocent victims in this play,” he said.
“The answer is not disenfranchising them and making them stateless. All that is going to do is increase the number of people who are going to be turning to terror as a way of retribution towards the West,” Ansar said.
The Islamist Ansar was a financial advisor for Lloyds Banking Group, until he was suspended in 2003 for unsatisfactory work and suspected falsification of assets. Ansar then sued the bank for racial discrimination, but the tribunal concluded that he had not been discriminated against and his problems had resulted from his own unwillingness to listen to guidance from his managers. He is unemployed at the moment.
On 29 October 2013, as part of the follow-up to the broadcast of the BBC documentary “When Tommy Met Mo”, Ansar was questioned on the BBC politics programme The Daily Politics about his Twitter debate with Tom Holland over slavery in antiquity, during which he had tweeted “If slaves are treated justly with no oppression whatsoever, who could possibly object, Tom”. Douglas Murray accused Ansar of being unwilling “to admit that the Quran appears to permit the taking of sexual slaves”.
In May 2014, Ansar was criticised by a number of journalists including radio presenter, Iain Dale, journalist Nick Cohen, journalist Jamie Bartlett and author Jeremy Duns regarding his views and his conduct.
In May 2014, Cohen wrote a critical article about Ansar in The Spectator in which he questioned Ansar’s professional credentials, reiterating Dale’s view that Ansar had “invented himself as a rent-a-quote commentator” and said Ansar had a Twitter alias account that denigrated those he disagreed with.
Bartlett wrote that Ansar’s “language of tolerance and moderation” belied his stance on homophobia and amputation of limbs in Islamic states and that he had fabricated claims about his professional experience, including a false claim that he was a lawyer.
Haras Rafiq, former director of CENTRI, a counter-extremism organisation, called Ansar a “Frankenstein’s monster that’s been created by the media” who “lies blatantly”.
Murray, of the Henry Jackson Society, described him as a “fraudulent faux-moderate” who “makes stuff up”, referring to Ansar’s claim that Muslims had been trading with Native Americans centuries before Christopher Columbus came to America.