In a new report, the Egmont Institute considers the return of foreign fighters to European countries. On Tuesday, Le Soir says the report mentions a third less pronounced wave, which consists notably of women and children.
Thomas Renard, one of the study authors, explains, “With the recent fall of the Caliphate and the military retreat of Daesh (the Arab acronym of the Islamic State group, editor’s note), there is now a high chance that a large number of fighters are dying in Syria, or are arrested or sentenced on the spot.” He elaborates, “However, the thinking is that the third wave of returnees may now be occurring. Unlike previous waves it includes children and women to a larger extent, who are likely to be treated with greater leniency by the local militia and authorities.”
According to the Organ for the Coordination of Threat Analysis (OCAM), around 137 Belgian minors are still in Syria, three-quarters of whom were born there. Overall, these children are both considered and treated as victims by the authorities. However the study flags up that “a small minority may pose a future security threat.”
The department for the Minister for Foreign Affairs is indicating that, at the current time, it perhaps only has one ongoing case relating to child returnees. Women, who make up almost one in five fighters, within the ranks of Daesh, are no longer treated favourably by the Belgian authorities. Thomas Renard observes that “Jihadist women have gone from the status of victim to that of potentially dangerous participants in such militant activities.”