Iraq’s judiciary determines fate of over 1,000 foreign ISIS children

Iraq’s judiciary is handling the fate of more than a thousand children whose parents of various nationalities had joined the Islamic State, a judge affirmed on Sunday.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) — Iraq’s judiciary is handling the fate of more than a thousand children whose parents of various nationalities had joined the Islamic State, a judge affirmed on Sunday.

Most of the children are from Eastern European countries, as well as Tajikistan, Russia, and Turkey. The Central Criminal Court in Baghdad is working on repatriating them to their respective countries of origin, following the proper legal procedures.

An investigative judge with the Iraqi Central Criminal Court specialized in terrorism cases, whose name was not mentioned, stated there are over 1,000 foreign children of the Islamic State in Iraqi rehabilitation centers.  

“Some of the children who entered the country with their families from abroad have identification documents. Others do not have their papers for several reasons, and some were born on their way to Iraq,” the judge, who is handling the cases of foreigners and children in court, was quoted as saying in a statement released by the Iraqi judiciary.

“The children’s ages range from a few months to 16 years of age,” the judge continued.

“They are currently in Iraqi rehabilitation centers, with their mothers having been sentenced to death, or handed down life sentences or shorter ones for the crime of belonging to a terrorist organization, participating in terrorist operations, as well as other crimes.”

The judge mentioned that the Supreme Judicial Council has taken the first step in collecting blood samples from all foreign women and their children to send to the Ministry of Health, which conducts DNA analyses to match the children with their biological mothers, adding that they are conducting a full investigation into the children’s ties to Islamic State members.

The statement also noted the Supreme Judicial Council is dealing with the files in accordance to international laws, cooperating with the relevant authorities, and that embassies are being informed of the trials and progress.

Most embassies representatives are permitted to meet with foreign female Islamic State members and the children under the direct supervision of the Higher Judicial Council, said the judge.

“Some embassies have requested we deliver the children to their country’s authorities,” he continued. “This is not a common case. Some embassies are trying to avoid repatriating and returning them to their respective home countries. Most of those embassies belong to Arab countries such as Jordan, Syria, and Egypt.”

He also acknowledged that some countries request the consent of the mother before taking the child back to their country of origin, but the respective governments provide no financial or logistic support, such as France and Germany.

Other countries like Russia, says the judge, “do not consider the opinion of the mother, but rather make a direct request to the Iraqi judiciary” to reclaim the child.

He noted that the judiciary, in turn, deals with those requests in accordance with international laws and the instructions of the United Nations and UNICEF. The process underlines that children under the age of 3 cannot be separated from their mothers. 

According to the judge, the Iraqi judiciary is solely responsible for the extradition of children to their respective countries only after completing all legal procedures.


The judge disclosed that, so far, 252 children in total had been deported back to their countries.

Among them were 90 Tajik children of different ages and both genders, 77 to Russia, 35 to Turkey, and the following breakdown: Azerbaijan 22, Germany 10, France 5, Sweden 3, Georgia 3, Belarus 3, Finland 2, Switzerland 1, and Ukraine 1.

The judge mentioned that most of the deportation cases were handled with the consent of the mother.

“There were two cases in which the mothers did not agree. Both of them had three children each. Two of them were deported because they were over 3 years of age and in dire need of care, leaving one child behind who was too young to travel without the mother,” the judge explained.

The Deputy Prosecutor of the Central Investigation Court in the same statement mentioned that “the remaining number of children is significant, estimated at 600.”

“About 188 children are to be handed over to Turkey and their documents are still being processed,” he added, hoping the transfer would take place in the coming days.

Following the military defeat of the Islamic State that Iraq announced in late 2017, the country’s judiciary had issued life and death sentences for hundreds of Islamic State members in accordance with the country’s anti-terror law.

Editing by Nadia Riva