A 49-year-old Islamic State woman has been arrested in Sweden on suspicion of taking part in serious war crimes in Syria, including forcing her own son to become a child soldier.
The alleged crimes allegedly are said to have taken place between 2013 and 2016 in Syria after the woman travelled to the country to join the Islamic State terrorist group, taking her five children with her.
“She is suspected of having contributed together and in agreement with others to the use of a child under the age of 15 as a child soldier,” Swedish Prosecutor Reena Devgun told broadcaster SVT.
“This is the first time, to my knowledge, that we are examining the issue of child soldiers in Swedish courts. It’s an unusual case,” Devgun added.
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Two of the five children, both boys, are said to have died while in Syria, while two others were taken into state care after the woman returned to Sweden last year.
Earlier this year SVT published photographs showing the children posing with weapons and claimed to have seen other photos of the children posing with mutilated bodies.
The 49-year-old is also accused of forcibly marrying off her daughters while in Syria.
She has denied the accusations levelled against her, however, trying to claim that her children led normal lives while living in the now-former caliphate’s territory. She has also denied the allegations of participation in war crimes.
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Prosecutions against returned Islamic State members are rare and convictions even more so, with Sweden’s terror law enacted last year seeing zero charges laid in the first year of its implementation.
Per Lindqvist, chief prosecutor at the National Unit for Security Case,s stated in March that it was incredibly difficult to prosecute returning Islamic State radicals due to the difficulty in acquiring proof of their crimes.
Earlier this year, however, one woman was sentenced to three years in prison for taking her two-year-old son to join the Islamic State in Syria after lying to the child’s father that she was going on holiday to Turkey.
The woman and the child spent six years in Syria before they both returned to Sweden at the end of 2020, where the man was arrested at Arlanda airport and the child was returned to the sole custody of the father.
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