While everything was ready for a new group of Daesh orphans to be brought back to Sweden from the Kurdish-controlled al-Hol camp for terrorists' widows and children, it turned out that the children have disappeared without a trace, and the authorities don't know where they might be, Swedish Radio reported.
According to Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde, fewer than five orphans were to be brought back Sweden from al-Hol a few weeks ago. Linde didn't comment on when exactly when and how the handover would occur. But according to her, the children could not be found at the camp within the designated time-frame, and their whereabouts remain unknown.
“A couple of weeks ago, there were all permits, all legal bases were clarified, permissions from authorities ready, security clear, reception in Sweden ready, but when the handover would happen the relatives have moved the children and we do not know now where they keep the children hidden. And the authorities don't know that either,” Ann Linde told Swedish Radio.
According to Linde, search operations are underway. At the same time, she refused to go into detail.
“There are almost 70,000 people living in the camp, all moms are basically dressed in niqabs, so if you want to keep the children hidden, it is not easy to find them,” Linde said. “We regret it, because we believe that the children should be brought to Sweden, and there is a legal basis for this, and that they should grow up in safety in Sweden. But as the situation is now, we cannot locate them,” she added.
According to the Foreign Ministry, over 50 children with connections to Sweden are currently held in camps for Daesh supporters in Syria. A small number of them are orphans, while most are with their mothers. The government's attitude has been that the children should be brought to Sweden whenever possible, with orphans being the most prioritised group.
A number of difficulties have arisen so far, including ensuring the children's identity and citizenship, as well as determining that they are orphans.
Both the Red Cross and the Save the Children have demanded that Sweden act faster so that the Swedish children from al-Hol are brought home as soon as possible. According to the international organisation Save the Children, the disappearance is shocking news.
“Given how the situation is in the camp is and the risks that exist there, they should have ensured that the children were in a safe place and that they had control over where they were,” Save the Children's Sweden Manager Ola Matsson told Swedish Radio, suggesting that the government had failed in its efforts.
Previously, 16 Daesh children have been brought home to the Nordic countries. In May, the seven siblings of notorious Daesh recruiter Michael Skråmo were taken to Sweden by their grandfather. In June, five Norwegian Daesh orphans aged one to five were evacuated. This past weekend, two children arrived in Finland.
Sweden outnumbers its Scandinavian peers in terms of the number of Daesh children (over 50 as opposed to about 30 from Norway, Denmark and Finland, each).
Sweden directly contributed to the terrorist cause with about 300 jihadis, in politically correct parlance referred to as “fighters”, which is among the highest percentages per capita in Europe. Almost none of the jihadists have faced prosecution for crimes committed in the Middle East.
* Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Islamic State) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia