Danish government reaches agreement to revoke passports of Isis fighters

The government and Danish People’s Party (DF) have agreed new rules that will enable authorities to withdraw passports from individuals found to have fought for militant groups abroad.

Danish government reaches agreement to revoke passports of Isis fighters
A picture taken on March 23rd, 2019 shows the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces' flag atop a building in theeastern Syrian village of Baghuz. Photo: GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP/Ritzau Scanpix

The new rules will provide for an administrative process that will enable passports to be revoked without going through the courts, the Ministry of Immigration and Integration announced.

Immigration minister Inger Støjberg said in a statement that she was “very satisfied” with the agreement.

“These people have gone to fight against democracy, freedom and everything Denmark stands for, and they do not belong in Denmark,” Støjberg said.

In addition to the new provision on passports, the government and its parliamentary ally DF have also agreed to change citizenship rules.

A new rule will mean that citizenship will not automatically be given to children born to Danish mothers if they are abroad with the purpose of fighting for groups such as Islamic State (Isis) at the time of the child’s birth.

That means that children born in areas where it is illegal to travel to will not be automatically entitled to Danish citizenship if their parents entered the country or region in question illegally.

“Their parents have turned their back on Denmark, so there is no reason for their children to be citizens,” Støjberg said.

Although the agreement is currently supported by a majority in parliament, it cannot be passed into law until after general elections, which must take place no later than June, Ritzau writes.

Police security agency PET has estimated that 150 people have, since 2012, travelled from Denmark to Iraq or Syria to take part in wars there.

Of those, around one third has returned to Denmark, according to the intelligence agency's assessment.

PET has also estimated that “some women who travelled [to the relevant areas] took children with them into conflict areas, and some had children while they were there”.

Around 40 Danish foreign fighters are still in areas of conflict, of which 10 are in prison, Minister of Justice Søren Pape Poulsen said at a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday. The remainder have returned to Denmark, travelled to other countries or have been killed.

READ ALSO: 'It would be better if they had died in battle': Danish justice minister on returning Syria fighters

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Ex-jihadi housewife jailed in Norway for joining IS

A Norwegian court on Tuesday sentenced a woman who lived as a housewife in Syria to prison for being a member of the Islamic State group (IS), despite not actively fighting herself.

Ex-jihadi housewife jailed in Norway for joining IS
The Kurdish-run al-Hol camp which holds suspected relatives of Islamic State fighters.Photo: Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP

The Oslo court sentenced the Norwegian-Pakistani woman to three and a half years in prison for “participating in a terrorist organisation” by taking care of her household and enabling her three husbands to fight.

“By travelling to an area controlled by IS in Syria… by moving in and living with her husbands, taking care of the children and various tasks at home, the defendant enabled her three husbands to actively participate in IS fighting,” judge Ingmar Nilsen said as he read out the verdict.

Being a housewife to three successive husbands did not render her a passive bystander, the judge said.

“On the contrary, she was a supporter who enabled the jihad, looked after her three husbands at home and raised the new generation of IS recruits,” he said.

The young woman, who admitted having “radical ideas” at the time, left for Syria in early 2013 to join an Islamist fighter, Bastian Vasquez, who was fighting the regime.

Although she did not take up arms herself, she was accused of having allowed her husbands to go fight while taking care of her two children and household chores.

The trial was the first prosecution in Norway of someone who had returned after joining IS.

“This is a special case,” prosecutor Geir Evanger acknowledged during the trial.

“This is the first time that, to put it bluntly, someone has been charged for being a wife and mother.”

The prosecution had called for a four-year sentence, while the defence had called for her acquittal and immediately appealed Tuesday’s verdict.

The woman’s lawyer, Nils Christian Nordhus, argued that his client had quickly wanted to leave Syria after being subjected to domestic violence.

She had also been a victim of human trafficking because she had been held against her will, he added.

But the judge stressed that she had participated in the organisation “knowingly” and of her own will.

The woman was repatriated to Norway in early 2020 on humanitarian grounds with her two children, including a young boy described as seriously ill.

At least four other Norwegian women and their children are being held in Kurdish-controlled camps in Syria.