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Middle East

Frenchwoman on US terror blacklist detained in Syria

© Stringer, AFP | An Islamic State (IS) group poster in the central Syrian town of Al-Sukhnah on August 13, 2017, days after the jihadist outfit was driven out of the area.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2018-01-03

Emilie Koenig, a Frenchwoman suspected of recruiting fighters for the Islamic State (IS) group who figured on US and UN blacklists, has been arrested by Kurdish forces in Syria, her mother said Tuesday.

The 33-year-old daughter of a gendarme is "being held in a Kurdish camp and has been interrogated and tortured," her mother told Ouest-France newspaper.

Koenig went to Syria in 2014 and three of her children were born in that country.

She was put on the UN list of the most dangerous fighters and a year later figured on a US terror list.

Koenig converted to Islam after marrying her first husband, a man of Algerian origin, who was arrested for drug trafficking.

She learnt Arabic, changed her name to Samra and started wearing a veil. She left for Syria to join her new partner, who was eventually killed.

She appeared in several propaganda videos in which she appealed for jihad "as long as the enemy is around".

French intelligence also intercepted several phone calls in which Koenig urged her contacts in France to attack French institutions and target the wives of French soldiers.

News of her detention follows reports in the French press last week that prominent jihadist recruiter Thomas Barnouin and several other French Islamists were captured by Kurdish fighters in Syria.

Security sources say “several dozen” French nationals, including jihadist fighters and their wives, are currently being held in camps or detention centres in Iraq and Syria, where the IS group has been driven out of its key bastions.

Women accompanied by their children present the greatest challenge to French authorities, and President Emmanuel Macron recently said their fate would be examined on a “case-by-case basis”.

Koenig's mother said she “wanted to return to France and to seek forgiveness of her family, her friends and her country".

The mother said she had written to French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian asking him to “repatriate” Koenig and her children.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2018-01-03


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