Belgian authorities keep an eye on IS fighters' children

Thursday, 16 February 2017 13:49
Belgian authorities fear for the fate of some 80 children of Syrian fighters from Belgium, who may be residing in territories occupied by Islamic State. Belgian authorities fear for the fate of some 80 children of Syrian fighters from Belgium, who may be residing in territories occupied by Islamic State. © Belga
Belgian authorities fear for the fate of some 80 children of Syrian fighters from Belgium, who may currently be residing in territories occupied by the jihadist group Islamic State.
The Mediahuis group publications are reporting today (Thursday) that several such fighters wish to return to Belgium.

Up to now, the authorities have already received an indication that some twenty Syrian fighters, mainly women, are now wishing to return to Belgium.

A spokesman for the Interior Minister, Jan Jambon (of the New Flemish Alliance) indicated, “Some may possibly come back with their children.”

He goes on, "These children were born in Syria or were taken to the front at the time their parents went over. It goes without saying that our security services will consider these cases carefully. We are preparing to provide a suitably adapted level of care to children coming back to Belgium.”

The current list drawn up by OCAM (the Threat Assessment Coordination Body), indicates that some 35 Belgian children may possibly be staying in the caliphate.

Such children were taken there by their parents. However, this number has probably gone up to 80, according to the Mediahuis sources. Since 2012, Syrian fighters have had numerous children. As these children do not have a birth certificate, they are not registered in Belgium.

Mr Jambon's spokesman added, “All Belgian Syrian fighters are on international police and intelligence files, and will therefore, theoretically be sent straight to prison on their return.”

However, the question remains as to what to with the children involved. The spokesman said, “Juvenile court judges will rule on their cases, on an individual basis.”

Children will be monitored by both the Flemish community and the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, which will, in particular, supply psychological support. Local police and security services will also monitor them.

Lars Andersen
The Brussels Times
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