Ex-jihadi housewife jailed in Norway for joining IS

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From the Norwegian edition of The Local

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.

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.

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.

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,

The 30-year-old — born in Pakistan but raised in Oslo — testified (during her trial) that she was radicalised and left for the war-torn country in 2013 after falling in love and marrying Bastian Vasquez. Vasquez was a Chilean-Norwegian jihadist who converted to Islam and was fighting at the time for an Al-Qaeda-linked group. He later joined the Islamic State group and died while making explosives.

“I was so in love that I believed everything he said,” The woman said she quickly became disillusioned on arriving in Syria and on several occasions tried in vain to return home.

She ended up marrying two other foreign fighters during her time in Isis-controlled territory and had two children, one from Vasquez. 

Prosecutors, however, have challenged her account accusing her of trying to recruit other women to join the terror group.

“During her marriage to Vasquez, she spoke highly of the Islamic State and of life in Syria to women in Norway with the aim of getting them to marry foreign men fighting for the group,” according to the charge sheet. Vasquez died in 2015 and the woman subsequently married an Egyptian man with whom she had her second child. But he also died in combat and she married one of his friends, also a fighter for Isis.

 

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