Sunday 18 April 2021

Authorities investigate kidnapping of children, 7 and 8, now in Syria (update)

Aysha and Luca OpdamThe public prosecution department in Limburg is investigating the kidnapping of two children who have allegedly been taken by their mother to Syria, against their father’s will.

Local newspapers say the 33-year-old mother has taken her children, aged seven and eight, with her. The woman is said to come from Chechenya and all three are probably travelling on stolen documents, the Dagblad de Limburger says. The children have Dutch nationality.

Two other children, who are younger, have different fathers and are with their grandmother in Maastricht, the paper says.

The woman left Maastricht at the end of October and is thought to have arrived in Raqqa several weeks ago after spending some time in Turkey.

The authorities were aware the woman had contact with jihadis and had questioned her several times.

In addition, when the woman, named as Umm by the Limburg papers, asked to print something on her children’s school computer, the director saw she was printing out airline tickets. He alerted the children’s father, who in turn told the police.

Alert

However, despite an international alert being issued, Umm was able to take her children, named as Luca and Aysha, out of the country. They first went to Germany, where they missed their flight to Greece. Two weeks later, they flew to Greece from Belgium, the Limburg papers say.

In total, six people from Maastricht are known to have made the trip to IS-controlled territory. One 19-year-old youth died fighting and a second blew himself up in a suicide bomb attack. A 19-year-old girl returned to Maastricht after travelling to Syria to marry a jihadi at the end of last year.

There have been 46 cases in which one or both parents have taken, or attempted to take, their children to Syria or Iraq, the Dutch child protection authority said on Monday. In addition, 15 minors have made the trip or been stopped while making preparations.

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