Isis orphans handed over to the Nigerian government

The Nigerian government representative Musa Habib Marika, carries one of three orphaned siblings linked with the Islamic State, in the Syrian Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli on September 5, 2019. – Kurdish authorities in northeast Syria today handed over three siblings linked with the Islamic State group to Nigeria, the first such repatriation to the African country, an official said.

“Three children… were handed over to representatives of the Nigerian government,” said Fanar Kaeet, a Kurdish foreign affairs official.

The siblings are a girl and two boys — all between five and ten years old — who had lost both parents, Kaeet told AFP.

A representative of Nigeria’s government said his country is also looking into other cases.

“We have asked the foreign relations department at the Kurdish administration for a list of Nigerians and Africans” under their custody, Musa Habib Marika said.

“As for Nigerian (IS) fighters, the Nigerian government will look into this,” Marika said in response to a question as to whether his country had any plans to repatriate combatants.

The Kurds have spearheaded the US-backed fight against IS in Syria, and in March expelled the extremists from their last patch of territory in the war-torn country’s far east.

Even as the Kurds fight remaining sleeper cells, thousands of alleged IS fighters and family members are being held in their custody.

These include hundreds of suspected foreign fighters in jails and thousands of their alleged family members in overcrowded camps.

Western countries have been largely reluctant to repatriate their nationals.

But Germany, France and Belgium have brought a handful of orphans home, while the US last year repatriated a woman with her four children.

Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kosovo have repatriated dozens of women and children.

IS overran large parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” there, but offensives in both countries have seen them lose that territory.

More arrests made over murder of two Scandinavian women in Morocco

RABAT (Reuters) – Nineteen people have been arrested in the wake of the murder of two Scandinavian women last week in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, a security source familiar with the case said on Monday. 

A person leaves a painting in front of Denmark’s embassy in Rabat to honour Maren Ueland from Norway and Louisa Vesterager Jespersen from Denmark, who were killed in Morocco, in Rabat, Morocco December 22, 2018. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

They include the four main suspects in the crime and fifteen other people accused of having connections to the alleged killers, the source told Reuters, without giving further details. 

Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, from Denmark, and Maren Ueland, 28, from Norway were found dead early on Dec. 17 near the village of Imlil on route to Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak and a popular hiking and trekking destination. 

The four main suspects, aged between 25 and 30 years, had pledged allegiance to Islamic State in a video made three days before the bodies were found, but without agreeing this in advance with any foreign group, police and domestic intelligence spokesman Boubker Sabik said on the state 2M TV channel on Sunday.

He described the four men as “lone wolves,” adding that “the crime was not coordinated with Islamic State.” 

Electronic devices, an unauthorised hunting rifle, knives and materials that could be used for bomb-making were found during police raids. 

Compared with other countries in North Africa, Morocco has been largely insulated from militant attacks. The most recent took place in April 2011, when 17 people were killed in the bombing of a restaurant in Marrakech. In 2017 and 2018, Morocco dismantled 20 militant cells planning attacks in the country.