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Suspected Islamic State member returned to Germany along with three children

The woman is the first adult female to have officially been repatriated to Germany.

German Armed Forces at an air base (file photo)
German Armed Forces at an air base (file photo)
Image: DPA/PA Images

A WOMAN BELIEVED to have been a member of Islamic State (IS) and her three children have arrived back in her home country Germany.

The woman is the first adult female member of the group to have been returned through official channels to Germany from Syria.

Named only as Laura H, the 30-year-old from the state of Hesse arrived at Frankfurt airport late Saturday on a flight from Erbil in Iraq.

While she was not immediately arrested on arrival, Laura H remains the subject of an investigation on suspicion of membership of a terrorist organisation as well as failure to properly care for her children, Der Spiegel reported, citing security sources.

Her passport has also been confiscated and she has been banned from leaving the country, while her children are being entrusted to a close relative.

According to the magazine, the woman travelled from Giessen in central Germany to Syria in 2016 with her two children and her husband, a Somalia-born US citizen, before she joined IS.

She had already been linked to Salafist [Islamic fundamentalist] circles in Germany and allegedly posted an online call for aid donations for Syria that went to a fundamentalist group.

Following her husband’s reported killing and her own capture by Kurdish security forces, Laura H claims to have turned away from IS ideology.

A US aid organisation helped bring her to Erbil from the Al-Hol prison camp in northeastern Syria, according to Der Spiegel.

Kurdish authorities have repeatedly urged Western countries to repatriate their nationals linked to IS, but they have been largely reluctant to do so.

A Turkish invasion of northern Syria last month sparked concern of a mass breakout from Kurdish-held jails and camps.

Germany had already brought home a handful of orphans, but no adults until yesterday.

Irish woman Lisa Smith, who was married to an Islamic State fighter and lived in Syria until Turkey’s recent incursion into the country, is expected to be repatriated to Ireland.

A former member of the Irish Defence Forces, she was captured by Kurdish forces in northeast Syria after Islamic State fighters lost control of their final stronghold.

The 38-year-old was being held with her two-year old daughter in the Al-Hawl displacement camp for the wives and children of Islamic State fighters.

Members of the Irish Defence Forces had been dispatched to the border area between Syria and Turkey to bring Smith and her child home, and it looks likely she will return to Ireland in coming weeks. 

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Austria, Belgium, Britain and France have also repatriated some orphaned children, while the United States has repatriated several women and their children.

- © AFP 2019 with additional reporting from Michelle Hennessy.

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