Rabat – A new report has warned against the danger of receiving ISIS widows, pointing out that many of them could still pose serious security threats to their countries of origin or adoption.
The report, carried out by a Brussels-based organization for monitoring the return former wives of ISIS fighters, found out that while many of the returning “ISIS brides” are ready to readjust to normal life and forgo of the radical lifestyle they lived under while in ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria, a significant number could still be serious security threats.
Among the returnees and prospective returnees monitored in the study are various European nationalities, including 10 Belgians of Moroccan descent, Morocco’s Arabic outlet Al Ahdath Al Maghribia reported on September 14.
According to the paper, many of these women joined the terrorist group young and impressionable and underwent some radicalization training.
While Morocco has not particularly been concerned with the return of ISIS widows, the Al Ahdath Al Maghribia report indicates that dozens of Moroccan women, formerly married to ISIS fighters, are currently living in Kurdish refugee centers in the custody of Kurdish fighters credited with liberating many of the former ISIS strongholds. This means that Morocco, too, should prepare for the challenge of returning ISIS widows, according to the report.
The report comes in the wake of hot debates in Europe and the US around the fate of ISIS widows and their children.
In the UK, the Shamima Begum case sparked controversy earlier this year.
Begum was 15 in February 2015 when she left the UK with three other school girls to join the then Islamic caliphate. Now 19 and a mother of one, the former ISIS bride has expressed remorse for her decision to join the terrorist group and said she wants to return home to the UK to give her son the chance to have a normal life.
Opinions were divided in the UK, with some advocating for her return and others arguing for Begum to be stripped of her British citizenship and be denied entrance to the UK. The British government is so far siding with the anti-return camp in the intricate matter of returning ISIS brides.
Begum’s story ignited a wave of emotional support in the UK, government critics pointing to the callous decision of refusing return to a young, remorseful mother. Her son has since died; she had several children who have also all died. The most recent was born and died while she was waiting to hear from the Home Office if she could return to the UK.
In a similar instance in the US, Hoda Muthana, who left her family and university studies in Alabama to join the terrorist group, has also expressed profound regret for her decision. The former ISIS bride has also begged to return home with her son, but has so far been met with steady refusal from the Trump administration.
In its report, the Brussels-based group argued that the number of former ISIS brides poised for normal life and genuinely remorseful for their involvement with ISIS far outweighs that of those that could still be security threats.
It recommends that, despite the serious security challenges, countries should receive these former ISIS brides and hold them in rehabilitation or deradicalization centers until they are fully ready to lead normal, radicalization-free lives in the countries to which they choose they return.