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Chechen Refugee Abducts Her Dutch Children To Join IS


An image from a posting by a Chechen militant of Islamic State's Chechen faction, Katibat al-Aqsa, who calls himself Abu Hamza but previously was known as Ilyas Deniyev, with a child identified as "Khadija," whose face has been pixelated to protect her identity.

An image from a posting by a Chechen militant of Islamic State's Chechen faction, Katibat al-Aqsa, who calls himself Abu Hamza but previously was known as Ilyas Deniyev, with a child identified as "Khadija," whose face has been pixelated to protect her identity.

A Chechen refugee has abducted two of her children, both Dutch citizens from Maastricht, and taken them to Syria to join the Islamic State (IS) group, the Dutch newspaper Brabants Dagblad reported on March 16.

The 33-year-old woman, who has not been named, is reported to have taken her two children, 7-year-old Aysha Opdam and 8-year-old Luca Opdam, from Maastricht to Raqqa in Syria on October 29. The Dutch Public Prosecutor is treating the case as an abduction because both Aysha and Luca were in the custody of their Dutch father and removed without permission.

The mother and the two children "almost certainly traveled with stolen travel documents," according to the NLTimes website.

Reuters reports that the head of the children's Islamic school notified their father that the mother had printed plane tickets for herself and the two children for flights to Greece.

The Dutch authorities are reportedly investigating whether there is a network in Maastricht that recruits individuals to join IS in Syria.

Chechen Diaspora (And Children) In Syria And Iraq

While the Dutch case is the first reported incident of a Chechen refugee or member of the Chechen diaspora abducting children to take them to Syria, it is certainly not the first case of Chechens from Chechnya and from diaspora communities in Europe taking their children to the armed conflict in Syria.

Evidence from postings made by Chechen militants in Syria and Iraq show that a number of them have brought their families, including children of various ages, with them to Syria.

Recent postings by a Chechen militant who now calls himself Abu Hamza but who previously went by the name Ilyas Deniyev, and who is prominent in the Islamic State's Chechen faction Katibat al-Aqsa, show the Chechen with a young child named as Khadija.

In one video posed on Abu Hamza's social networks, Khadija is filmed speaking Arabic and talking about "jihad."

A series of photographs likely taken in 2013 show the young son of a now-deceased Chechen militant, Seyfullakh Shishani (Ruslan Machalikashvili), in Syria with his father. In some of the photos, the boy -- who appears to be about 13 -- is shown wielding a large firearm. Machalikashvili and his children had lived for some time in Istanbul in Turkey before going to Syria, where Machaliashvili ended up leading his own faction within Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. Photographs taken after Machalikashvili's death in February 2014 suggest that his son has now returned to Istanbul.

There is also evidence that North Caucasian IS militants in Raqqa, where the Chechen refugee is thought to have taken her two Dutch children, have established a Russian-language school for the children of Chechen and Daghestani militants. The establishment of a school suggests that a significant number of North Caucasian militants in Raqqa came to Syria with their children in tow.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena

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