THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch woman who traveled to Syria and Iraq to support her family while her husband fought with the Islamic State group was convicted Monday of supporting terrorist acts and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.
Laura Hansen, 22, traveled with her husband and two young children to IS-controlled territory in September 2015 and made headlines in July 2016 when she surrendered to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters near the IS-held city of Mosul in northern Iraq, saying she had been trying to escape the “hell” she was living in “all the time.”
But a court in Rotterdam ruled that Hansen knew what she was doing when she accompanied her husband on his journey to join IS and that her support for him and her children amounted to preparations for terrorist acts. Hansen was acquitted of membership in IS.
Judges suspended 13 months of Hansen’s sentence, meaning she won’t have to go to prison following Monday’s conviction since she spent a year in pretrial detention.
An expert had recommended the court treat Hansen as a minor, which likely would have meant a lighter sentence, but judges rejected that option.
“She started a family at a young age, got married and accompanied her husband to Syria and Iraq so that he could fight for IS. Those are adult decisions,” the court said in a written statement.
The Netherlands’ main intelligence agency say that around 280 Dutch citizens have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside groups such as IS and around 50 have returned to the Netherlands, where they are considered a serious threat to national security.