Neumünster / Germany: Muslims praying on the track cause train cancellations
Yesterday evening, around 9.30 pm, the Federal Police was called to an extraordinary operation at Neumünster railway station. Train crews had seen two men in the track, one of them had lit up with a flashlight, the second had prayed right next to the track. The railway track in question was closed for 30 minutes. When asked to leave the danger zone, the Muslims said that they were not yet ready to pray. Shortly afterwards, the men moved away. Based on the description of the persons, the federal police officers employed were also able to identify the men in question. They admitted that they had gone to the track area to pray because it was too bright on the platform. After establishing their identity, which was a 20-year-old Kosovar and a 17-year-old Macedonian, the two men were informed of the danger to life they had gone to. They received an ad. Two trains were cancelled and two more trains were delayed.
The wife of an Islamic State terrorist and her three-year-old child were secretly returned to Australia last year, the first confirmed case of an Australian family escaping the Syrian “caliphate”.
In what authorities fear could be the beginning of a wave of returning foreign fighters and their families, The Australian can reveal that the woman and her child arrived in Australia in the middle of last year, having lived in the so-called Islamic State caliphate since late 2015.
The arrival of scores of jihadis and their families poses unprecedented challenges for security services, which must monitor a generation of potentially radicalised children and their parents.
It will also tax social service providers, who are preparing to cater to the needs of dozens of traumatised children and their battle-hardened parents.
The arrival of the mother and her child marked the culmination of months of discussions between the woman, her family and Australian government officials, conducted under a cloak of total secrecy while mother and child were still in Islamic State territory.
I was a member of ISIS: Prakash
According to ASIO, up to 70 Australian children have been caught up in the conflict, either because they were taken there by their parents or because they were fathered by Australian fighters who either married or raped women in the war zone.
A spokesman for Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said it was the government’s preference to deal with Australian jihadis “as far as possible” from Australia. “However, it’s an unfortunate reality that some Australian citizens will seek to return home,” he said.
“As the minister indicated at the Press Club (on Wednesday), the government is determined to deal with people returning from conflict zones carefully and … in the hands of our police and security agencies.”
More than 200 Australians have travelled to Syria to join the fighting. Some, such as former Sydney man Khaled Sharrouf, his friend Mohammed Elomar and ISIS recruiter Mohamed Baryalei, became well known to the public thanks to the terrorist group’s propaganda output.
While the woman has not been charged, it is understood the Australian Federal Police is probing whether a brief of evidence can be compiled to prosecute her.
The woman and her baby were issued temporary travel documents by Australian consular staff in Ankara, Turkey, mid-last year.
The Australian understands the woman travelled to Syria in late 2015 with her Australian husband, an Islamic State terrorist described by one counter-terrorism officer as a ‘’hard-core fighter’’ well known to authorities.
The couple had a child, understood to have been born in early 2016 near the Iraqi city of Mosul, which at that time was under ISIS control. For months, the couple lived in the ISIS “caliphate” where the husband fought and worked with the terrorist group.
Shortly after the couple’s child was born, the woman’s husband was killed in the fighting. Sources close to the woman said she became terrified. Under ISIS’s medieval legal code, women are second-class citizens and she was unable to leave the house without a male escort.
Food and medical provisions were in short supply and the woman is understood to have told authorities that civilians in her area were being wheeled out by ISIS as human shields against Coalition airstrikes on Raqqa and Mosul.
In about mid-2016, the woman’s Australian-based family, terrified for her wellbeing and that of her child, reached out. Contact was made with Australian government officials and discussions began about the possibility of getting her and her child out.
The Australian understands that around that time, the woman and her young child made a break for it, paying a people-smuggler to spirit her out of ISIS-controlled territory and into southern Turkey. The Australian government is understood to have played no role in getting her out.
Once there, the woman made contact with Australian consular officials in Ankara. Australian-based officers from the AFP, ASIO and other national security agencies conducted an assessment to see what, if any, risk she posed to the Australian community. The baby was also DNA-tested to establish its paternity and claim to Australian citizenship. By mid-last year, Australian officials were satisfied the woman posed no threat to national security and temporary travel documents were issued so she and her child could fly to Sydney. Upon her return, the AFP investigated the woman for possible terrorism offences. Under laws passed by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in 2014, it is a crime for any Australian citizen to travel to the “declared areas’’ of Raqqa and Mosul, the two main cities under ISIS control.
Despite having lived in at least one of those cities — Mosul — the woman has not been charged. She and her child are understood to have moved from Sydney to another Australian city. While the woman remains a devout Muslim, she is believed to have turned her back on Islamic State and sources close to the case say she has “engaged’’ with deradicalisation initiatives.
Of the more than 200 Australians believed to have travelled to the Syrian civil war, mostly to fight with Islamist groups such as ISIS or Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qa’ida’s official affiliate in the Syrian conflict, about 110 are still alive and active.
Despite early fears, counter-terrorism authorities believe few of the surviving Australians who fought with Islamic State will return home. Instead, they are expecting to manage scores of women and children who are fleeing the conflict.