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France faces repatriation decision after capture of jihadi women

Daesh recruiter Emilie König
Daesh recruiter Emilie König

Female French jihadists arrested in Kurdish-held parts of Syria should face justice there so long as they can be guaranteed a fair trial, the French government said on Thursday. Debate has been intense in France over the fate of women who went to Syria to marry Islamist fighters and now find themselves in custody, not least following heavy defeats for Daesh.

This week, Emilie Konig, a 33-year-old Muslim convert and notorious jihadist recruiter, became the latest of a string of European women to plead publicly for repatriation.

According to French intelligence services, there are "a few dozen" French nationals, believed to be jihadist fighters or their wives, in prisons and camps in Syria and Iraq. Some 1,300 terrorists, "including several from France," have been arrested by the Kurdish forces in Syria, the French media were advised by Khaled Issa, of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).

In November last year, President Emmanuel Macron announced that the fate of French fighters and their family members who left to join the terrorist group in the Middle East would be examined on a case-by-case basis. This has become a hotly-debated issue in France, which has no extradition treaty with Syria. While some of those detained have requested repatriation to France, there are activists and politicians who oppose their coming back to their country, arguing that they've made a choice "to kill and become criminals."

König's mother told Ouest France newspaper that she spoke to her daughter by phone this week and that she had "repented". During their previous call in July, said her mother, the 33-year-old "wanted to come back; she asked for forgiveness from her family, her friends and her country."

So far, France, Germany and Britain have all tackled returnees on a case-by-case basis.

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