A recent PBS series highlighted the case of an American mother, Samantha Elhassani, who took her two American children into the so-called Islamic State and had two more babies there with her Moroccan husband, who became a member of ISIS. Her two eldest children, now 10 and 5, were U.S. passport holders, and the younger two are eligible for U.S. passports as they were born to an American citizen.
The question raised in their case, and those of children like them is: Do they deserve to be rescued by the United States? And it’s likely they are not the only ones. Some 45 American women are reported to have joined ISIS in Syria or attempted to do so, with at least a dozen American children ending up in ISIS-controlled territory, but the numbers could be higher as people traveled with false papers using false names and nationalities. The French believe anywhere from 300 to 400 French children have lived in ISIS-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq. In the case of German nationals, at least six children are being held with their mothers in Iraqi camps.
But let us focus on the American kids. When the State Department or U.S. Embassy dealing with such cases is questioned about them, even by concerned family members such as grandparents and other close relatives, the standard response is to cite Privacy Act concerns. In other words, when it comes to American children taken into ISIS, or groups like ISIS, the mother’s rights are fully respected while the rights of her innocent American children are not. That might make sense in a normal custody or parental abduction case, but not when a parent takes American children into terrorist territory.
According to the U.S. State Department’s read of the Privacy Act, amid concerns and complications about dealing with a mother who is in custody of her own children U.S. government officials are unable to discuss such cases with concerned and traumatized aunts, grandparents, or advocates working on behalf of these family members.
The children in this case only escaped the clutches of ISIS when their mother was widowed. Her Moroccan husband was killed fighting for the self-declared “caliphate” and another man took charge of her and her family. Finally, she saw a chance to get away with her children and the Yazidi women living alongside her as sex slaves. But having left ISIS, they now languish in a camp ostensibly for refugees but more like a prison in Kurdish-controlled territory in Syria. And this is where the burning questions arise about how the U.S. government responds-or not-to the needs of these children.
Perhaps it bears repeating: Young children taken into the Islamic State, or born, there are captives-hostages of the group their parents joined, not willing volunteers in a terrorist organization. And parents who subject their own children to the horrors of ISIS are not individuals who should retain any rights.
Inside the United States, child protective services in each and every state would have long ago removed these children from their abusive parents. Family court judges would likely consider the parents to have forfeited their rights by subjecting their children to the demands of ISIS for participation in militant exercises, beheadings, public executions, posing for videos, undergoing beatings, brainwashing, and indoctrination as suicide bombers.
Source: Daily Beast