Austrian officials are struggling to find a solution for the Austrian citizens, including women and young children who remain in detention camps across Syria, following the collapse of the caliphate. Of the 320 people who left from Austria to join the Islamic State, “there are still about 100 in Syria and Iraq,” said Spokesman of Interior Ministry, Christoph Pölzl, “an estimated 30% of which hold Austrian citizenship.” These included young women who left as minors to marry IS jihads.
On a recent visit to three Kurdish prison camps, political scientist Thomas Schmidinger met among others a 20-year-old mother with an infant child, who wishes to return to Austria. Despite the Foreign Ministry’s intervention, the Ministry of Interior is reluctant “to spend tax-payers money” to assist terrorist group members and radicals. Without denying the risk, child welfare advocate Ercan Nik Nafs insists this case is different: “ A one-year old baby’s life is at stake; a war zone is no place to raise a child.” Meanwhile, Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish, Arab and Assyrian militias, are demanding that foreign IS’s disciples be sent home and put on trial, many western countries remain uncertain how to proceed..