Belgian Jihadist and children missing from Syrian Al-Hol prison camp
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Belgian Jihadist and children missing from Syrian Al-Hol prison camp

Credit: Belga

Jihadist Nora Verhoeven and several other Belgian women and children have reportedly gone missing from the Syrian Al-Hol prison camp, according to a psychologist involved in the possible repatriation of the group.

Two doctors and two psychologists had planned to travel to the camp from Belgium, however the trip was cancelled as chaos took over after the Kurd’s lost control of Al-Hol, which resulted in uncertainty regarding the location of the Belgian women and children.

“In the past few months, three Belgian women with four children have already escaped. We don’t know whether they are on their way to Europe via people smugglers or whether they have joined IS,” VUB psychologist Gerrit Loots, who was in charge of the team, told De Morgen.

The main aim of the trip was to take DNA samples from Verhoeven and her suspected children, to prove the children are Belgian, a step which is necessary to repatriate them to the country.

However, Loots was informed by an intermediary that the Kurds are unsure about Verhoeven’s whereabouts, and it is unclear whether the five other Belgian women and 12 children are still in the camp.

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“The situation is completely out of control. IS now controls Al-Hol and has already set up a system with its own courts. This year, dozens of people have already been killed in the camp,” Loots said.

“This raises a lot of questions,” said her lawyer, Nicolas Cohen, who told De Morgen he cannot say much about the situation.

Verhoeven was convicted at the Sharia4Belgium trial in 2015, together with her husband Koundi Annas, a jihadist from Grimbergen, whose whereabouts were also unknown, but has been reported dead by De Morgen.

The Kurdish authorities had granted permission for the trip, after the Brussels Court of Appeal ruled that the Belgian state had to ask for access.

The group had also planned to visit the Roj camp, where Loots believes another nine Belgian women and ten children are staying.

Radicalisation is growing in both camps, and Loots has called for the women and children to be repatriated, saying they are being lost to IS.

Lauren Walker
The Brussels Times

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