Six Islamic State Women Suspected of War Crimes After Returning to Sweden

A girl, living in al-Hol camp which houses relatives of Islamic State (IS) group members, looks back in the camp in al-Hasakeh governorate in northeastern Syria on March 28, 2019. (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP)

Six female Islamic State members who have returned to Sweden in the past year after being held in prison camps in Syria are suspected of participating in war crimes.

The six women, all members of Islamic State who came back to Sweden in the last year after leaving to join the terror group in the Middle East, are under investigation for potential participation in war crimes, according to Prosecutor Reena Devgun.

Devgun told broadcaster Sveriges Radio that while prosecutions for war crimes committed overseas are difficult cases, extensive documentation of Islamic State crimes could aid the investigation into the women’s actions.

The proceedings would be the first of their kind in Sweden as the type of crimes the women are being investigated for have not been tried in the country, making the case challenging for prosecutors. So far, none of the women has been arrested, and all but one have denied any participation in criminal activity.

Despite the accusations, some Swedes have called for the return of all Islamic State women held in the notorious al-Hol prison camp in Syria.

Journalist and author Jan Guillou has argued: “According to a number of international conventions, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Sweden is responsible for its Swedish citizens among the prisoners, including these 25 women and 30 children.”

“This would scarce be a busload of women and children, all in mortal danger. Transport would be easy to arrange, decisions on the matter even easier, and the cost a trifle. It is much more expensive to help home all the drunks who have lost their passports or been robbed on their holidays abroad,” he wrote.

He also argued that if the women were guilty of crimes, they should be tried in a Swedish court. But terror experts such as Magnus Ranstorop have decried the lack of effective laws that could be used to prosecute returning Islamic State members.

Sweden’s counter-terrorism law, which was enacted in 2020, had seen zero arrests by March of this year because, according to prosecutor Per Lindqvist, charges were too difficult to prove.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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