The Dutch husband of Shamima Begum, a British-born teenager who fled to join Islamic State, wants to live with her in the Netherlands, the BBC reported Sunday after finding him in Syria.
Yago Riedijk, who is being held in a Kurdish-run detention centre in northeast Syria, married Begum days after she arrived in territory held by IS when he was 23 and she was 15, he told BBC television.
Begum, 19, from east London and now in a refugee camp, has said she would like to return to Britain but has been stripped of her British citizenship by the government which calls her a security threat.
Riedijk, who is 27 and says he now rejects IS, having fought for the jihadist group, says he wants to return home to the Netherlands with his wife and their newborn son. Their first two children died.
In a first extract from the interview released by the BBC, he was asked if he thought marrying a girl of that age was acceptable.
“When my friend came and said there was a girl who was interested in marriage, I wasn’t that interested because of her age, but I accepted the offer anyway,” he replied.
“We sat down and she seemed in a good state of mind. It was her own choice, she was the one who asked to look for a partner for her.
“Then I was invited and yeah, she was very young and it might have been better for her to wait a bit. But she didn’t, she chose to get married and I chose to marry her.”
Riedijk, from Arnhem, told the BBC that he had been imprisoned and tortured after IS suspected him of being a Dutch spy. He surrendered to Syrian fighters.
The case of Begum has highlighted a dilemma facing many European countries, divided over whether to allow jihadists and IS sympathisers home to face prosecution or bar them as the so-called “caliphate” crumbles.
Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) on Wednesday claimed responsibility for an attack on the convoy of the Borno State, Kashim Shettima who was headed to a rally in northeastern Nigeria ahead of Saturday’s presidential election.
The group said in a statement on its Amaq news agency that 42 people were killed in Tuesday’s attack on Borno state’s governor.
Official sources told Reuters earlier on Wednesday between three and 10 people were killed, and that some of them may have been beheaded.
Boko Haram has waged a decade-long insurgency in Nigeria’s northeast which has killed around 30,000 people and forced about 2 million to leave their homes. Islamic State West Africa Province, which split from Boko Haram in 2016, has carried out a series of attack on military targets in the last few months.
Security sources said earlier on Wednesday the gunmen opened fire at the motorcade transporting Borno’s state governor Kashim Shettima on his way from state capital Maiduguri to the market town of Gamboru for a rally.
Two security sources said three people died. A government and a separate security source said as many as 10 people were killed. Some of those killed may have been beheaded, they said.
There was no indication of how Shettima, a government politician, was affected by the attack. His spokesman could not be reached for comment. A security source said the convoy had returned to Maiduguri.
Borno, the birthplace of Boko Haram, has been the state worst hit by Islamist insurgents.
President Muhammadu Buhari is seeking a second term in office in Saturday’s elections in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest democracy. He faces a tight contest against his main challenger, Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President.
A suicide attack claimed by the Islamic State group killed 15 people including US serviceman Wednesday in the northern Syrian city of Manbij near the Turkish border, a monitor said.
Nine civilians and five US-backed fighters were among the dead in the attack on a restaurant in the flashpoint city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Rubble littered the outside of the eatery in the city center, footage from a Kurdish news agency showed, and its facade was blackened by the blast.
The Britain-based Observatory, which relies on a network of sources in Syria, said it was the first such suicide attack in the city against the US-led coalition fighting IS in 10 months.
The bombing came as Kurds who control a large swathe of northern Syria rejected a Turkish plan to set up a “security zone” on the Syrian side of the border.
Almost eight years into Syria’s civil war, Turkey has repeatedly threatened to attack Syrian Kurdish fighters it views as “terrorists” on its southern flank.
Washington, which has relied heavily on the Kurds in its campaign against IS in Syria, has sought guarantees for their safety after President Donald Trump suddenly announced a US troop pullout last month.
On Tuesday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara would set up a “security zone” in northern Syria following a suggestion by Trump.
The planned buffer would embrace a large swathe of the autonomous region the Kurds have established in northern and northeastern Syria.
Senior Kurdish political leader Aldar Khalil said any Turkish deployment in Kurdish-held areas was “unacceptable”.
He said the Kurds would accept the deployment of UN forces along a separation line between Kurdish fighters and Turkish troops to ward off the threatened offensive.
But “other choices are unacceptable as they infringe on the sovereignty of Syria and the sovereignty of our autonomous region,” Khalil told AFP.
Ankara has welcomed Washington’s planned withdrawal of some 2,000 US troops from Syria but the future of US-backed Kurdish fighters has poisoned relations between the NATO allies.
On Monday, Erdogan had a telephone conversation with Trump to ease tensions after the US leader threatened to “devastate” the Turkish economy if Ankara attacks Kurdish forces in Syria, and called for a “safe zone”.
The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have been the key US ally in the fight against IS.
They have taken heavy losses in a campaign now nearing its conclusion, with the jihadists confined to an ever-shrinking enclave of just 15 square kilometers (under six square miles).
The shock announcement of a US withdrawal has sent the Kurds scrambling to seek a new ally in Damascus, which has long rejected Kurdish self-rule.
With military backing from Russia since 2015, President Bashar al Assad’s government has made huge gains against the jihadists and rebels, and now controls almost two-thirds of the country.
A northwestern enclave held by jihadists and pockets held by Turkish troops and their allies remains beyond its reach, along with the much larger Kurdish region.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Syrian government must take control of the north.
“The best and only solution is the transfer of these territories under the control of the Syrian government, and of Syrian security forces and administrative structures,” Lavrov said.
The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, another key ally of the Damascus regime, said it would not withdraw any forces from Syria, dismissing Israel threats.
Erdogan said he had a “quite positive” telephone conversation with Trump late on Monday in which he reaffirmed that “a 20-mile (30 kilometers) security zone along the Syrian border… will be set up by us.”
The Syrian Kurdish leader said Turkey was the wrong choice to oversee the mooted “security zone”.
“Trump wants to implement these safe regions through cooperation with Turkey. But any role for Turkey will upset the balance and the region will not be safe,” Khalil said.
The Turkish army has launched two major operations in Syria — in 2016 against IS jihadists and Syrian Kurdish fighters, and in 2018 targeting the Kurds.
The last offensive saw Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel allies overrun the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in the northwest, one of several the Kurds had governed since 2012.
Critics have accused Turkish troops and their proxies of military occupation of Syrian sovereign territory.
Ankara has spoken of a YPG-free “security zone” under its control, but it is not clear if Washington has the same details in mind.
Analyst Mutlu Civiroglu said it was not immediately clear what the US president meant by a “safe zone”, or who he thought would patrol it.
Analysts were “waiting for a clarification from Washington to see what the president really meant”, he told AFP.
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen voiced outrage Thursday after being ordered to undergo psychiatric tests for having posted pictures of atrocities committed by the Islamic State group on Twitter.
Le Pen shared the gruesome images in December 2015, a few weeks after IS jihadists killed 130 people in attacks in Paris, sparking widespread condemnation in France.
The 50-year-old leader of the National Rally (formerly National Front), who lost to Emmanuel Macron in last year’s presidential vote, was stripped of her parliamentary immunity over the pictures and charged with circulating messages that “incite terrorism or pornography or seriously harm human dignity”.
On Thursday, she tweeted copies of a court order ordering her to undergo psychiatric evaluation.
Dated September 11, it calls for the tests to be carried out “as soon as possible” to establish whether she “is capable of understanding remarks and answering questions”.
“It’s crazy,” fumed Le Pen, herself a trained lawyer. “This regime is really starting to be frightening,” she tweeted, suggesting that the case was part of a government plot to discredit her.
“I thought I had been through it all: well, no! For having condemned Daesh (IS) horrors in tweets, the ‘justice system’ is putting me through psychiatric tests! Just how far will they go?” she asked.
Le Pen had shared the images in response to a French journalist who drew a comparison between IS and her party.
One of the pictures showed the body of James Foley, an American journalist beheaded by the Sunni extremists.
Another showed a man in an orange jumpsuit being run over by a tank, and a third showed a Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage.
“Daesh is this!” Le Pen wrote in a caption. Daesh is an Arabic acronym for IS.
She later deleted the picture of Foley after a request from his family, saying she had been unaware of his identity.
If convicted, she faces up to three years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros ($87,000).
Le Pen has denounced the case against her, which falls under a law punishing violent images that can be viewed by a minor, as a violation of her freedom of expression.
Another National Rally lawmaker, lawyer Gilbert Collard, has also been charged for tweeting pictures of IS atrocities.
The Department of State Security (DSS) has arrested two suspected commanders of the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.
DSS Spokesman, Mr Tony Opuiyo, said the suspects were arrested in Kukuntu village, Gwgwalada on May 5, after special operations on identified targets.
“Determined to continuously thwart the budding cells of the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) and Boko Haram, the Service conducted special operations on identified targets. This led to the successful arrest of Bashiru ADAMS and RUFAI SAJO, commanders of the group on 5th May, 2018 at Kukuntu Village, Gwagwalada Area Council, FCT, Abuja,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
The suspects were identified as Bashiru Adams and Rufai Sajo.
According to Opuiyo, the suspects were discovered to have concluded plans in collaboration with Boko Haram to carry out heinous violent attacks on innocent persons.
He said that in a related operation on April 28, the service also arrested one Umar Dogo, a suspected member of ISWA at Muda Lawal market in Bauchi.
Two experts in Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), Adamu Hassan, aka Bale and Abubakr Abubakar aka Alhaji or Buba, were also arrested following intelligence reports.
“Also on 12th and 19th April 2018, at Gassol and Ardo LGAs of Taraba State, Mohammed SALEH (AKA Azrak) and Iliyasu ABUBAKAR (aka Ruwa), Boko Haram members and cattle rustlers were respectively apprehended.”
Meanwhile, Lagos State was also not spared as on 14th May, 2018, the service rescued a kidnap victim, Bimbo Adebiyi, after raiding the group’s hideout at Grace Estate in Ajah area of the state.
Members of the kidnap gang that were apprehended include: Tunde Akinsola, Wakil Alade, Olumide Braimoh, Raymond Adingiou.
Others are: Isiaq Abesin, Victoria Nwabueze and Zabala Amolokwe.
He said that on March 27 the service also arrested five members of a kidnap syndicate at Calabar.
The suspects are: Simeon Paul, Emmanuel Etim, Eric Out, Famous Oleke and Felix Eshet.
He said that items recovered from them include: one AK-47 Rifle, three empty AK-47 Magazines, 38 rounds of live ammunition, two live rounds of 9mm ammunition, one Mossberg pump action rifle and 15 live cartridges of ammunition.
A pair of US warplanes intercepted two Russia jets over a part of Syria they were not supposed to be operating in, the Pentagon said Thursday.
At one point during Wednesday’s incident, the American F-22 Raptor stealth fighters deployed chaff and flares to convince the Russian Su-25s to leave the area, and one US pilot had to “aggressively maneuver” to avoid a midair collision, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said.
The Russian fighters had flown into airspace controlled by the US-led coalition that is fighting the Islamic State group in Syria, crossing onto the east side of the Euphrates River near Albu Kamal.
They “were promptly intercepted by two F-22A Raptors providing air cover for partner ground forces conducting operations to defeat ISIS,” Pahon said.
“The F-22s conducted multiple maneuvers to persuade the Su-25s to depart our deconflicted airspace, including the release of chaff and flares in close proximity to the Russian aircraft and placing multiple calls on the emergency channel to convey to the Russian pilots that they needed to depart the area,” he added.
The incident lasted approximately 40 minutes before the Russian aircraft flew to the west side of the river.
During and following the encounter, coalition leaders contacted Russian officers on a special hotline to try to calm the situation and avert a “strategic miscalculation,” Pahon said.
The Pentagon said that in early November the US verbally agreed with Moscow that the Russians would keep west of the Euphrates and the coalition would stay east.
“Since agreeing to this deconfliction arrangement, the Russians have flown into our airspace on the east side of the river six to eight times per day, or approximately 10 percent of the Russian and Syrian flights,” Pahon said.
“It’s become increasingly tough for our pilots to discern whether Russian pilots’ actions are deliberate or if these are just honest mistakes,” Pahon said.
Albu Kamal was IS’s last urban stronghold in Syria until the army retook it last month.
Singapore said on Monday that it has detained an assistant child-care worker suspected of trying to join the Islamic State and finding a militant husband in Syria.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Home Affairs said Izzah the suspect, Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, 22, is being held under a tough security law the Internal Security Act, a colonial-era law that allows authorities to detain anyone seen as a threat to security for up to two years.
The detention of the first Singaporean woman for suspected Islamist radicalism comes as concern is growing about the spread of Islamic State in the region.
Singapore and its neighbours recently began intelligence cooperation aimed at stemming the movement of militants across their borders.
The island city-state off southern Malaysia has reiterated over the past year that it is a target of Islamist groups and has urged the public to be alert.
Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines are committed to strengthening their cooperation on defence to stem the movement of militants and combat piracy across their porous borders.
The Indonesian minister said this on the sidelines of a security forum in Singapore.
Ryamizard Ryacudu said the current terrorist threat in Southeast Asia – home to the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation and over half a billion people – is “unprecedented”, as he pledged to share intelligence information with other nations in the annual Shangri-La Dialogue.
Dozens of fighters from Indonesia and Malaysia are believed to have made their way into Mindanao in the southern Philippines, where Islamic State-linked militants have mounted a prolonged siege against security forces, in an attempt to establish a caliphate.
The three nations also plan to launch joint air patrols at their shared boundaries in the Sulu Sea in addition to existing maritime patrols, but concrete plans will decide after another meeting in mid-June.
The Federal Government has urged parents and guardians to monitor the activities of their children and wards in order to prevent them from being recruited by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
According to the government, the terrorist group has now resorted to targeting vulnerable individuals, including foreign students, using financial inducements to recruit them into the organisation.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Monday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, cited the recent recruitment into ISIS of 27 medical students of the University of Medical Sciences and Technology (UMST) in Sudan as an example of the new strategy being used by the organisation to recruit more members.
The Minister, quoting a report received by the Nigerian Intelligence Community, said 22 of the 27 students, who travelled to Syria to join ISIS, are Britons.
The report also revealed that the students were recruited by one Mohammed Fakhri Al-khabbas, a former UMST student from Middlesbrough, United Kingdom.