Captive Swiss jihadists report torture in Kurdish prisons

Their wives are in detention camps with their children. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Three Swiss nationals who fought for Islamic State and are currently in custody in Northern Syria deplore the harsh conditions in Kurdish prisons and want the Swiss government to repatriate them.  

This content was published on December 18, 2019 - 14:19

The jihadists, who all come from the French-speaking part of Switzerland, were interviewed by Swiss Public television SRFExternal link. They claim that conditions in Kurdish prisons fall somewhere between mistreatment and torture.  

The jihadists complained of poor conditions like scarcity of food and water, lack of hygiene and non-existent healthcare. They claim to be under a lot of psychological stress and suffering due to sleep deprivation.  

While they have no contact with the outside world, they are allowed to send messages to their families via the Red Cross. All of them have founded a family in the former Caliphate. Their wives, one of them Swiss, are in camps with the children. They want to be repatriated to Switzerland and are willing to serve time in Swiss prisons for their crimes. 

It is difficult to verify what exactly the three jihadists were up to in Syria and Iraq. Two were captured in the last strongholds of the Islamic State, where only the most loyal supporters resisted capture to the end. 

The Kurdish security forces insist that the prisoners are treated correctly.  

The Swiss foreign ministry told SRF that it is doing its best to bring back Swiss children from camps in northern Syria to Switzerland. The repatriation has so far failed because the jihadist mothers are not prepared to let their children leave without them.

The Federal Intelligence Service believes that 93 jihadist “travellers” have left Switzerland for conflict areas since 2001, of whom 78 have gone to Syria and Iraq. Of these, 27 have been confirmed killed and 16 have returned to Switzerland. 

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