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JIHADISTS

French jihadists get welfare benefits from France while fighting in Syria

French jihadists fighting in Syria have been able to claim their unemployment benefits from France, according to a new report, which they have used to finance terror group Isis.

French jihadists get welfare benefits from France while fighting in Syria
Photo: AFP

French investigators have discovered a major scam that saw jihadists using their unemployment benefit or family allowance paid in France to help fund Isis in Syria, according to Le Figaro newspaper

At the height of the scam some 20 percent of the French jihadist fighters in Syria were still accessing their social benefits from France, the paper reported.

Relatives of jihadists had been allegedly going to French employment centres to collect their family members’ monthly benefits, then transferring the funds abroad. 

“Armed with their cards and photos, the parents were able to access the funding from the Unemployment Agency or the Family Allowances and send it to combat zones, mostly via Turkey,” an investigator tasked with looking into the illegal financing of Isis, told Le Figaro.

Last year at least 420 fraudulent withdrawals of this kind were made.

The investigators said that there were 190 known people involved in making the money transfers from the French side, and 210 people collecting the money on the other side.

Since the revelations were made, police have started sharing information about those receiving the money, so that they can be removed from the lists of the welfare groups. 

The investigators looking the illegal financing of Isis found that some €500,000 had been sent from France between 2012 and 2017.

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JIHADISTS

French families sue government over children of jihadists stuck in Syria

The families of several children and wives of French jihadist fighters in Syria have filed lawsuits against France's top diplomat over his refusal to let them come to France.

French families sue government over children of jihadists stuck in Syria
Two detained French women who fled the Islamic State group's last pocket in Syria sit with their children . AFP

The suits, filed in July and September, accuse Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian of “failing to provide aid” to people in “danger” at camps operated by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in northeastern Syria.

The complaints were filed with the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR), which hears cases over alleged misconduct by former or serving ministers.

It is the latest legal challenge to France's longstanding opposition to allowing the children and wives of suspected jihadists in Syria or Iraq to return home.

The government, which says it considers requests on a case-by-case basis only, has brought back just 17 children since March, many of them orphans.

Critics say the policy exposes innocent victims of the war, many of whom have suffered serious trauma during the fighting and coalition bombardments, to long-term psychological risks.

“The policy of 'case by case' keeps more than 200 children and their mothers exposed to inhumane and degrading treatment, and at risk of death,” the lawyers said

They note that Kurdish officials are also pressing European governments to repatriate citizens who went to fight for the Islamic State group in Syria, as well as their family members.

“It's a political choice not to save these children and mothers being held arbitrarily,” one of the lawyers, Marie Dose, told AFP.

Asked about the lawsuit, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said in a statement that France remained “fully mobilised so that each situation is handled with the children's interests in mind.”

“Our priority is to ensure the return of the most vulnerable orphan or isolated children,” she added.

A similar lawsuit was filed against France last May at the European Court of Human Rights, by the grandparents of two children stranded with their French jihadist mother in Syria.

The boy and girl, who were born in Syria, are among an estimated 500 children of French citizens who joined the Islamic State's so-called “caliphate” before the jihadists' last Syrian redoubt was overrun in March.

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