9 Belgian IS women escaped Kurdish camps: this is who they are
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    9 Belgian IS women escaped Kurdish camps: this is who they are

    Credit: Belga

    Since the Turkish invasion of Syria, nine Belgian women have managed to escape from the Kurdish camps where they were imprisoned, and some are trying to get back to Belgium.

    Nine Belgian women affiliated with the terrorist group Islamic State have escaped the camps where they were imprisoned together with a total of 12 children, said Belgian prime minister Sophie Wilmès in the Federal parliament, reports VRT NWS. This is an overview of what is known about them.

    Tatiana Wielandt (27)
    Wielandt is from the Antwerp district Borgerhout, and went to Syria in 2013 with her friend Bouchra Abouallal. Wielandt was married to Noureddine Abouallal, the brother of her friend Bouchra. Noureddine was a member of the terrorist group Sharia4Belgium and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but he died in Syria.

    In total, Wielandt had three children. The first one was born in Belgium and went with her to Syria. When she was heavily pregnant in 2014, Belgian authorities helped to bring her back to Belgium to give birth. In the summer of 2015, she went back to Syria, where she gave birth to a third child. At the moment, she is in Turkey, reports Het Nieuwsblad.

    While she was still in the Kurdish prison camp, she said she wanted to come back to Belgium and does not mind that she will be convicted. “It does not matter. As long as my children are safe and can go to school, I accept it,” she said in a documentary that aired on VRT.

    Bouchra Abouallal (26)
    Bouchra Abouallal is from the municipality of Ranst in the Antwerp province. In 2013, she followed her husband, Said El Morabit, to Syria. As a member of the Sharia4Belgium terrorist group, he was sentenced to five years in prison, but he died in Syria.

    Like her friend Wielandt, Abouallal had three children in total. The first one, which she had in Belgium, she took with her to Syria. Later, she came back to Belgium for the birth of her second child, and then went back to Syria where she gave birth to her third child. At the moment, she is in Turkey, reports Het Nieuwsblad

    In the Kurdish prison camp, she said she wanted to come back to Belgium and that she is not afraid of her prison sentence. “I am not trying to make excuses, I came here of my own will. We regret our mistake and hope that we can correct it. Even if they give us 20 years in prison, I want my children to have a good life,” she said in a VRT documentary.

    Fatima Benmezian (24)
    Benmezian was born in Morocco but has a Belgian nationality, and went to Syria in 2014 via the German city of Düsseldorf on her second attempt. On the first try, in the same year, she was stopped. She presumably married an IS fighter in Syria, and has no children.

    If Benmezian comes back to Belgium, she will be imprisoned. In May 2015, she was sentenced to five years in prison for participating in activities of a terrorist organisation, reports VRT NWS.

    Rachma Benmezian (31)
    Rachma is the older sister or Fatima. She is from the Antwerp district of Borgerhout and went to Syria in 2013. She likely followed her husband, Hicham Naji, who she has a daughter with. Naji was sentenced to five years in prison for his ties to the Sharia4Belgium terrorist group. While there is no official confirmation, it is presumed that Naji has died, reports Het Nieuwsblad.

    After the Turkish invasion, Benmezian ended up in the Al Hol camp, that she fled from. Her whereabouts at the moment, and whether or not she has been convicted for terrorism in Belgium, are unclear.

    Nora Marzkioui (28)
    Marzkioui is from Antwerp and went to Syria in 2013, following her husband Nabil Kasmi. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison during the Sharia4Belgium trial, but he presumably died in Syria. Marzkioui had three children with him, but one of them, at 1.5-years-old, died.

    After the fall of the latest IS-bulwark in Bāghūz, the woman ended up in the Al Hol prisoners camp with her children. She managed to escape, but her whereabouts at the moment are unclear. In Belgium, a trial for terrorist activities against her is ongoing, with a verdict on 19 December, reports Het Laatste Nieuws.

    Kawtar Bioui (32)
    Bioui is from the city of Mechelen and went to Syria in 2013, following her husband, Hisham Chaib. At the Sharia4Belgium trial, Chaib was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was the right-hand man of leader Fouad Belkacem.

    Bioui ended up in the prison camp of Al Hol, but managed to escape. Her whereabouts at the moment are unknown. In Belgium, Bioui has been sentenced to five years in prison for being a member of a terrorist group, reports De Morgen.

    Who the other three women are is not clear, reports VRT NWS.

    According to OCAD, the organisation analysing threat levels in Belgium, 25 Belgian IS women are still stuck in Kurdish camps, together with 68 minors who have the Belgian nationality or have another link to Belgium.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times