Investigation 04 Jan 16

ISIS Holding Albanian Children ‘Hostage’ in Syria

A number of orphans of Albanians killed in Syria remain in camps in the country - and ISIS militants will not allow them to return home. 

Aleksandra Bogdani, Flamur Vezaj
Two tanks in front of a destoyed mosque in Azaz, Syria. Photo: Flickr/Christiaan Tiebert

Searching for a new homeland where Sharia law rules, a number of Albanian would-be jihadists took their wives and children with them to Syria to fight for al-Qaeda and ISIS. 

Documents obtained by BIRN reveal that 13 women and 31 children, including 23 minors, moved to Syria, some of whom are now orphaned or widowed because their menfolk have perished.

The families left for Syria in 2012 and 2014 according to the investigative file from Albania’s Prosecution Office for Serious Crimes, which BIRN has seen.

The file explains that the jihadists’ wives and children live in camps while the men fight on the frontline.

In one case, a jihadist wiretapped by the Albanian secret service, SHISH, and the prosecution office took his children to Syria without their mother’s approval, while two policemen helped them move illegally abroad.

The investigation has also revealed that some of the children are now orphans, and that the Islamist groups for whom their fathers fought have stopped them from going home.

Police helped jihadist get away:

Eva and Endri Dumani, aged nine and seven, are two of the 31 Albanian children left fatherless by the war in Syria.

Shkelzen Dumani was killed while fighting for ISIS on November 5, 2014, nine months after he took his children to Syria without informing his wife.

In Syria, Dumani changed his children’s names to Sara and Talha. Since his death, despite the efforts of the family and the Albanian authorities, his children have not been allowed to return home.

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