Three days after their return to French territory, the sixteen women repatriated from jihadist prison camps in Syria are now being prosecuted for criminal terrorist association. They are in pre-trial detention, while a boy, prosecuted for the same offence, has been placed under judicial control.

Eight of these women were indicted on Friday July 8, while the first eight had been indicted almost as soon as they arrived in France. Some are also prosecuted for child neglect.

These women and the boy, who turned 18 on Friday, were part of a group of 35 minors and 16 women repatriated to France from jihadist prison camps in northeastern Syria. The children, seven of whom are unaccompanied minors, were cared for by the Yvelines Childhood Social Aid.

An assessment to determine the degree of radicalization

The eight women indicted on Friday were the subject of a search warrant from French justice. They had been placed, as well as the boy, in police custody on Tuesday, upon their arrival in France at the General Directorate of Internal Security (DGSI) and, for one, at the Anti-Terrorist Section (SAT) of the prefecture of Paris police.

As of Tuesday, seven other women, targeted by an arrest warrant, had been presented to anti-terrorism investigating judges at the Paris court. An eighth woman, suffering from colon cancer, was diagnosed on Wednesday after “medical treatment”, according to a source familiar with the matter.

These sixteen women, aged 22 to 39 and of French nationality, with the exception of two of them who have French children, will undergo an assessment in detention to determine whether they are still radicalized or whether they have broken with the doctrine of the Islamic State (IS) group.

Over 100 women and 200 children still detained in Syrian camps

Among them is Emilie König, one of the best-known French jihadists. Accused of having recruited for the IS group and called for attacks in the West, she had been placed by the United Nations (UN) on its blacklist of the most dangerous fighters.

This is the first mass repatriation of children of suspected jihadists and their mothers since the fall in 2019 of the IS group’s “caliphate”, from which the deadly attacks of November 13, 2015 in France were notably planned. Until then, only a few children had been brought back by the French authorities on a “case by case” basis.

“This operation, effective and successful, took place calmly, which proves that it must be continued and quickly”, reacted to Agence France-Presse (AFP) Me Marie Dosé, who defends several women. “Even this morning, the children who are still in the camps were repeating ‘why not me?’ You can’t let the kids think that all summer in a 50 degree tent,” she added.

Before this repatriation, 120 French women and nearly 290 children were detained in Syrian camps controlled by the Kurds, Laurent Nunez, the French coordinator for intelligence and the fight against terrorism, told AFP on Friday.