Home News Two Belgian jihadists escape Syrian jail: officials

Two Belgian jihadists escape Syrian jail: officials

Published on October 26, 2019

Two Belgian jihadists have escaped from detention in northeastern Syria since Turkey launched an offensive against Kurdish forces in the region, the head of the national anti-terrorist agency said Wednesday.

According to two MPs, Paul Van Tigchelt, head of Belgium’s OCAM counter-terror analysis body, told a parliamentary commission: “It happened in recent days, certainly after the Turkish offensive began.”

The two were among 55 Belgian jihadists — men and women — in Kurdish-controlled prisons or camps in Syria, said one of the MPs, Georges Dallemagne. Another three Belgians are being held in Iraq.

The two escapees were male “foreign terrorist fighters”, one of whom was convicted in absentia in Belgium for “terrorism” according to an OCAM document of which AFP obtained a copy.

The document said there were “up to 56 minors aged under 12” with connections to Belgium in camps in northeast Syria.

Six of them, who were with their mothers, fled a camp in the town of Ain Issa in recent days following a bombardment, according to information given to MPs.

“The situation has become completely uncontrollable” in the Syrian camps under Kurdish control, said one MP, Samuel Cogolati.

“We are losing our contacts there, one by one,” he added, reiterating a call for Belgium to repatriate the children, and the adults for trial.