Canadian women give birth to children of ISIS fighters

Canadian women are helping to grow the so-called Islamic State.

According to researchers at the University of Waterloo, three Canadian women have given birth to children of ISIS fighters, while another two are pregnant.

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The new details are part of a larger study following foreign fighters who flee to Syria and Iraq. The women travelled separately over the past two years, leaving their families back home devastated.

“They’re quite worried about what is going to happen to their daughter, but also their grandchild,” said Amarnath Amarasingam, a co-lead author of the study. “For most of the parents, I think there’s kind of a double reaction. First they’re kind of happy a grandchild is involved, but at the same time, they’re quite devastated that a child was born into a war zone, to somebody they’ve never met.”

Amarasingam said the women are between the ages of 19 and 22, and are from British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec. Families agreed to speak to the research team with the promise that specific personal details would be kept confidential. “Because there are so few Canadian women that have gone over, it will be quite obvious… who they are, if I talk (specifically) about where they are from.”

The researcher also said the challenges these women face are quite obvious. Although they have a place to live, it is difficult to find basic supplies like clothing and diapers. Some of the families back in Canada are keen to help their daughters, but are afraid of the legal consequences.

“If you were to send diapers to Syria, I don’t know if that contributes to real support of a terrorist organization, but it does rest on very shaky legal ground, in terms of what you’re allowed to send to a place like Raqqa,” said Amarasingam.

‘Very disturbing’

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said this is “obviously a very disturbing development,” and recommitted to opening a national counter-radicalization office.

“We will be moving forward shortly, as rapidly as we can, on the creation of this new office for community outreach and counter radicalization,” said Goodale.

“I’m concerned with every dimension about this type of problem, it runs contrary to everything Canada stands for, in terms of values in the world,” he added.

The creation of a new office was part of a mandate letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the public safety minister late last year. The Liberals aren’t saying yet if funding for the office will be included in the upcoming budget, but there are signs this program will be a priority.

‘Very young’

Amarasingam said the challenges these women face become more complex because of their age. “These girls are very young,” he added, “they don’t have much experience in how to raise children, but they’re also raising these children under circumstances many others don’t have to worry about.”

There are no indications, any of the Canadian women are being held against their will. But the researcher said that if any of the Canadians want to come home, that process would be complicated.

“While they weren’t fighting for the Islamic State, I’m guessing the prosecution would argue they were aiding and abetting a terrorist organization, or providing material support to a terrorist organization, and so I think they would face legal consequences upon return,” said Amarasingam.


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