Russia ‘repatriates’ 27 Daesh children from Iraq

A Kurdish fighter takes a selfie with children after recapturing the Fadiliya village from Daesh militants, in Nawaran North of Mosul, Iraq. (Reuters)
Updated 10 February 2019
0

Russia ‘repatriates’ 27 Daesh children from Iraq

  • Fathers of the children were killed during three years of fighting between militants and Iraqi troops
  • More than 300 people have been sentenced to death in Iraq for belonging to Daesh

BAGHDAD: A Russian official said Sunday that Moscow had repatriated a fresh batch of children whose mothers are being held in Iraq for belonging to Daesh.

“Twenty-seven Russian children have been repatriated from Baghdad,” a Russian Foreign Ministry official said.

Thirty other children were sent back to Moscow in late December.

The fathers of the children were killed during three years of fighting between the militants and Iraqi troops, the official said.

Daesh seized large swathes of Iraq in a lightning 2014 offensive, before the government dislodged the militants from urban centers and eventually declared victory in December 2017.

The Kremlin announced in early January that 115 Russian children aged below 10 — along with eight aged between 11 and 17 — were still in Iraq.

Iraqi law allows detainees to be held with their offspring until the age of three, but older children have to live with relatives.

In November, Kheda Saratova — an adviser to Chechnya’s authoritarian leader Ramzan Kadyrov — estimated “around 2,000” widows and children of Russian Daesh fighters were still in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

Around 100 women and children, mostly from Caucasus republics, have returned to Russia so far.

Nearly 4,500 Russian citizens had gone abroad to fight “on the side of terrorists,” Russia’s FSB domestic intelligence agency said last year.

More than 300 people, including around 100 foreign women, have been sentenced to death in Iraq for belonging to Daesh, while others have been sentenced to life in prison. Most of those convicted are Turks or originate from former republics of the Soviet Union.

Their home countries do not want them and holding trials in Syria is not an option: Now suspected foreign militants could end up facing tough justice over the border in Iraq. Both countries have suffered for years at the hands of Daesh and Iraqi courts have already meted out hefty sentences to hundreds of foreigners detained on its soil, often after lighting-quick trials.

The fate of foreign fighters in Syria has come into sharper focus since President Donald Trump’s announcement in December that the US will withdraw its troops from the war-torn country.

Governments have been grappling for weeks with the question of foreign fighters detained by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, who have warned that they may not be able to guard their jails once US troops leave.


Is a spate of terror incidents in Egypt a ‘last dance’ for militants or a failure in security operations

Updated 21 February 2019
0

Is a spate of terror incidents in Egypt a ‘last dance’ for militants or a failure in security operations

  • Some have speculated that the sudden spate of incidents is the militants lashing out to spoil the image that Egypt is returning to stability

CAIRO: Three terrorist attacks in the space of as many days have raised questions over whether the Egyptian security forces have brought extremist militancy in the country under control.

The attacks between Friday and Monday came after a period of relative calm. The Egyptian military has been involved in an extensive operation against terrorist groups in their stronghold in the Sinai Peninsula for more than a year. Police forces have also been carrying out operations against cells in a large number of governorates.

The first of the three incidents was a failed attempt to plant a bomb near security forces in Cairo on Friday. On Saturday, however, a massive blast killed 14 members of the military on a security mission near El-Arish in Sinai.
The third bombing on Monday could have been just as deadly. A suicide bomber blew himself up after he was chased by police in the densely populated Al-Hussein district of Cairo near Al-Azhar Mosque. In the end three officers were killed.
The attacks came after months of relative calm in an insurgency that began after the Muslim Brotherhood president Muhammad Mursi was removed from power in 2012.
Since then, militants have targeted the Egyptian security forces, churches, coptic Christians, tourists and ordinary Egyptians, killing hundreds.
In November 2017, gunmen carried out the deadliest terror attack in Egyptian history — killing more than 300 people at a Sufi mosque in northern Sinai.

In response, the military launched a vast operation in February last year to “eliminate terrorism in Egypt.” The operation is ongoing.

Some have speculated that the sudden spate of incidents is the militants lashing out to spoil the image that Egypt is returning to stability.

“[Terrorists] want to give Egypt a bad image to foreigners living abroad, on order to make a point. They want to abort the democratic reform process that Egypt’s been implementing in the past period,” MP Mohamed Maher Hamed told Arab News.

Author and political analyst Walid Qutb said Egypt is keen to host more important regional and international events and forums, including the African Nations football tournament, and a drop in terror-related incidents is key to this.

He said the return of terrorist operations at this time is an attempt to send a clear message that Egypt is not a safe country. What the extremists have done recently is a final dance and lost, Qutb said.
But political analyst Nabil Omar told Arab News that the elimination of terrorism requires more than just maintaining security forces.
There needs to be improved education and the spreading of correct information to improve the mentality of Egyptians, he said.
“I don’t think that the return of terrorist operations happening currently is linked to changes in politics in Egypt,” Omar said. “It has nothing to do with how well security is either. “Terrorist attacks are happening because the terrorists in question have decided to do so.”
The recent incidents in Cairo are both strange, Omar said. They targeted police forces in locations packed with civilians.
This could mean that terrorists want their attacks to be even bigger and deadlier, even if that comes at the cost of the innocent or unarmed.
“The positive thing here is that these recent terrorist attacks came after a long period of silence. During that period of time, the Egyptian military had the upper hand in relation to the terrorists – who used to be more in control before,” Omar said.
The attacks came after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi described to the Munich Security Summit this week the Egyptian experience in regards to terrorism.