Most of the women and children come Turkey and former Soviet republics, and stayed behind after the Islamic State was expelled from the city. Now, they are in a camp under tight security, but their presence has raised concerns about tensions with displaced Iraqis. Many wives were tricked into coming to Iraq.
Baghdad (AsiaNews/Reuters) – Iraqi authorities are holding 1,400 foreign wives and children of suspected Islamic State (Daesh) fighters after government forces expelled the jihadist group from Mosul.
Most are from Turkey, but many others hail from former Soviet republics like Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and Russia. Some come from other Asian nations and a “very few” are from France and Germany. Thirteen nationalities in all.
The 541 wives and children are being held at an Iraqi camp south of Mosul. “We are holding the Daesh families under tight security measures and waiting for government orders on how to deal with them,” said Army Colonel Ahmed al-Taie from Mosul’s Nineveh operation command.
Aid workers and the authorities are worried about tensions between Iraqis, who lost their homes and are also living in the camp, and the new arrivals. They fear that many Iraqis might seek revenge against the women and children for what was done in the city after it was seized by Daesh in 2014.
“They are families of tough criminals who killed innocents in cold blood, but when we interrogated them we discovered that almost all of them were misled by a vicious Daesh propaganda,” Col al-Taie said.
One example is that of a 27-year-old French woman of Algerian descent who said she was tricked by her husband into coming when he joined Islamic State last year.
“He said ‘let’s go for a week’s holiday in Turkey.’ He had already bought the plane tickets and the hotel,” she explained. “I don’t understand why he did this to us. [. . .] Dead or alive - I couldn’t care less about him.”