20-year-old Dutch woman who fled IS arrested on return home

  • AFP, The Hague
  • Updated: Aug 02, 2016 18:46 IST
Laura Hansen, 20, was detained at Schiphol airport as she arrived back in the country almost a year after leaving with her husband. (AFP File Photo)

A young woman who returned home to The Netherlands with her two children after fleeing Syria has been arrested on suspicion of links to the jihadist Islamic State group, officials said on Tuesday.

Identified in Dutch media reports as 20-year-old Laura Hansen, the woman was detained late Monday at Schiphol airport as she arrived back in the country almost a year after leaving with her husband.

She had “allegedly fled the conflict zone in Syria” and arrived back in Schiphol airport, “where she was arrested immediately on arrival,” the Dutch prosecution service said.

She is “suspected of participating in a terrorist organisation in Syria and/or Iraq between September 1, 2015 and July 12, 2016,” it added in a statement.

Her two children were taken into care, and prosecutors are now investigating whether to bring any formal charges.

A woman identified by the same name appeared on Kurdish television early last month saying she had fled from the grips of the jihadist group.

She said her 27-year-old husband had told her they were going on holiday in September, and instead had taken her against her will to the IS stronghold in Raqqa, northern Syria.

After several months, she was transferred to Mosul, in northern Iraq.

Hansen told Kurdistan24 television she had escaped IS with the help of her father, and surrendered to the Kurdish peshmerga after her two young children were injured in a bombing in Mosul.

“I didn’t want to come to Syria... He pushed me,” she said of her husband, speaking in halting English to the Arbil-based TV channel.

“They put me in a house. It was all (guarded by) men. Men with beards and guns,” she said.

“I was trying all the time to flee from the hell in which I was living.”

The Dutch foreign ministry told AFP that diplomats had been in touch with Hansen and her family when she was in Iraq.

“Our consulate-general in Arbil was in touch with the local authorities all the time and assisted with Laura’s return to The Netherlands,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.

At least 250 Dutch people have left the Netherlands for Syria and Iraq to join fighters there, according to the Dutch National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV).

About 40 have since come home, while another 42 are believed to have died in the fighting.

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