A Dutch mother abducted her two children and fled to territory held by the Islamic State (IS) after police failed to heed warnings from the children’s father that they were about to be taken to Syria.
According to Al Jazeera America the unnamed 32-year-old mother, a Chechen refugee, disappeared from the city of Maastricht in October with her two children, 7-year-old Luca and 8-year-old Aysha, without notifying her ex-husband. Dutch police responded at the time with an international alert and arrest warrant, but until now it was unknown where they fled.
Now, the Dutch believe they know exactly where the two children went: Raqqa, the center of Islamic State operations in eastern Syria.
Prior to the children’s disappearance, the father approached police and said he feared their mother was about to leave for Syria. Police interviewed the woman multiple times, but the mother denied having any such plans and they took no further action until it was too late.
Ominously, Dutch officials say the woman’s defection to the Islamic State suggests an organized network exists in Maastricht to recruit people for the Islamic State and help facilitate their travels. The woman and her children were able to reach Syria, they say, because they were provided with forged passports.
Thousands of Europeans have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State as fighters, but according to the Dutch this is the first time children have been kidnapped and taken to the group as well.
Prosecutor Bart den Hartigh told the Dutch press that as long as the children remain in war-ravaged Syria, it will be impossible to recover them and reunite them with their father.
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