Skip to main content

First adult female suspected IS member returned to Germany

Laura H, who has three children, is under investigation on suspicion of membership of a terrorist organisation
The Kurdish-run Al-Hol camp for the displaced where families of Islamic State foreign fighters are held, in Hasakah province,northeastern Syria, 17 October 2019 (AFP)

A woman believed to have belonged to the Islamic State (IS) group and her three children has arrived back in her home country Germany, police told AFP Sunday.

The 30-year-old woman, identified only as Laura H, is from Hesse state. She arrived at Frankfurt airport late on Saturday from Erbil, Iraq.

Laura H is the first adult female believed to be an IS member to have been repatriated through official channels to Germany from Syria.

The woman was not immediately arrested on arrival, but her passport has been seized and she has been banned from leaving the country. Her children are being entrusted to a close relative, news weekly Der Spiegel reported, citing security sources.

She remains under investigation on suspicion of membership of a terrorist organisation as well as failure to properly care for her children, Der Spiegel said.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


The German magazine reported that in 2016, Laura H travelled with her children and her Somali-born US citizen husband from Giessen, in central Germany, to Syria, where she joined the militant group.

She had already been linked to Salafist circles in Germany prior to leaving her home country.

The suspected IS member claimed to have renounced IS ideology after her husband's reported killing and her capture by Kurdish security forces.

Spiegel said that a US aid organisation assisted in sending her to Erbil from al-Hol prison camp in northeastern Syria.

Kurdish authorities have repeatedly urged western countries to repatriate their nationals linked to IS, but they have been largely reluctant to do so.

Germany began repatriating children earlier this year. Britain, Belgium, Austria and France have also brought back a number of orphaned children.

Brussels vowed to evacuate IS suspects last month, while the United State has repatriated several women and their children.

However, the issue of repatriation is still facing resistance from some governments.

Last month, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel intervened to block a recent rescue operation to repatriate 60 British orphans and unaccompanied minors home from Syria, the Guardian reported, citing unidentified sources.

Patel, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Chancellor Sajid Javid said the children posed "security concerns," according to the newspaper's website.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.