The future of children born to Denmark's "foreign fighters," that is, jihadists who left the Scandinavian country to fight for the Islamists' cause in the Middle East, has become a hot topic for debate. While some politicians argue that they have become "as brainwashed and their parents," others insist that they remain Danish citizens and have the same rights, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten reported.
While the Immigration and Integration Ministry stresses that the so-called "children of the caliphate" are Danish citizens and have the same rights as ordinary Danish kids, the Justice Ministry and the Security and Intelligence Service (PET) both regard them as a threat.
Lawyer Bjørn Elmquist, who chairs the Danish Bar Association, argued that the issue of citizenship is clear and that Denmark has a legal obligation to help "Daesh* children." Even if the Danish authorities are physically removed from the area, the principle of force majeure still applies, he argued. Elmquist even emphasized that the Danish authorities may take the children away, if this perspective is deemed to suit them best, especially if their parents are suspected of terrorism.
Amnesty International legal adviser Claus Juul concurred that providing for these children on the same level as children from Rødovre [part of Greater Copenhagen] was the responsibility of the Danish state.
"We can help those children once we get them back to Denmark," Red-Green Alliance legal rapporteur Rosa Lund said.
PET previously underscored the latent threat posed by returning "foreign fighters," specifically naming minors who stayed with militant Islamists in the conflict zone.
Danish journalist and author Deniz Serinci, the author of two books on Daesh, stressed that the children have been indoctrinated.
"Daesh took boys aged from 6 to 16, regardless of whether they had come to the ‘caliphate' of their own accord or not, and sent them to military training where the children became indoctrinated to become jihadists," Serinci said, venturing that rehabilitating these children may be even more challenging than helping repenting jihadists.
Conservative foreign and human rights rapporteur Naser Khader is not in favor of Denmark becoming proactive in "reclaiming" the "Daesh kids," warning of safety risks associated with this process.
"We are going to face a dilemma, with some of the children likely being as brainwashed as their parents. Hereby, we're going to import a security threat," Naser Khader pointed out.
The Danish People's Party foreign rapporteur Søren Espersen agreed that these children posed an imminent threat.
"It is a widely accepted idea that people who are Islamists also brainwash their children. There are reports of Quranic schools that ingrain a life the Islamists themselves lead, a caliphate type of life," Espersen argued.
With Daesh almost quelled in both Syria and Iraq, children born to roughly 5,000 European jihadists and abandoned on former battlefields, remain a problem for governments across Europe. A UN-approved report called "Children of Islamic State" concluded that Daesh indoctrinated a whole generation of children with their extremist ideology from birth. Quilliam, the think tank behind the report, even drew parallels with pro-Nazi countries during World War II.
In the past years, Denmark contributed 150 jihadists to Daesh and other terrorist groups in the Middle East. Nine of them have been sentenced to prison in absentia.
*Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist organization banned in Russia