What To Do About the Children?

The collapse of the ISIS caliphate and the deaths of many of its fighters has left an excruciatingly difficult problem: what to do about the wives, often European or some U.S. citizens, and their children. Now in refugee camps, some of the women want to come home.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/17/us-woman-hoda-muthana-deeply-regrets-joining-isis-and-wants-return-home

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/their-parents-joined-isis-they-were-raised-in-the-caliphate-can-they-come-home/2019/02/15/38a783a2-142d-11e9-ab79-30cd4f7926f2_story.html?utm_term=.32f52a86188c

Governments in Europe, not to mention the deeply anti-Muslim government we have now with the Trump administration, are understandably wary of women who went voluntarily to join the caliphate, and in some instances worked actively on its behalf. Their children are often young, have lost their fathers, and are deeply bonded with their mothers. Letting the kids come home to be raised by other family members willing to take them risks severing that maternal bond and causing the children harm. So does leaving all of them in refugee camps, some to starve to death or die from illnesses easily treated here. But no one sounds terribly interested in believing the mothers when they say “Oops, I made a mistake.”

I have no idea what is the fair or just or right thing to do here. The ISIS caliphate was a tragedy, one whose effects will clearly reach far into the future as these little ones grow up. And these are just the children whose mothers want to bring them home, not the ones whose mothers are still ardent supporters of the cause.

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