French Midwife on Trial for Delivering Junior Jihadists in Syria
A French woman, Douha Mounib, accused of serving as “a midwife for the Islamic State” has gone on trial in Paris on charges that could result in a jail sentence of 30 years. Mounib is the first of more than 30 French women expected to face court over their activities living with Isis units in Syria and Iraq. Most of them have returned to France in the past year, with their children after being held in Kurdish prison camps or being detained in Turkey.
Mounib, now 32, was a medical student in her third year of midwifery studies in Nîmes. She travelled to Syria in 2014, declaring that she wanted to “fight for Islam and for Allah”. However, she returned to France within months and gave birth to a child who died. In 2015, she travelled back to Syria via Morocco, her parents' home nation, and eastern Europe after marrying a Tunisian.
Prosecutors claim that living in Raqqa, the city ISIS proclaimed as the capital of its caliphate, she delivered a dozen babies and was also active in Islamist propaganda on the internet. Mounib wrote on Twitter at the time: “The man fights but it is the wife who raises the future mujahidin.” She gave birth to a daughter in Syria, who is now in the care of social services.
Mounib has told French investigators that she never intended to turn her children into future mujahedin. She also denied any intention of delivering future fighters while she was delivering babies. However, prosecutors claim that Mounib is dissimulating and remains dangerous.
In 2017, Mounib was arrested in Turkey and later repatriated to France. She has been held in a French prison since then. In 2021, Mounib pierced a hole using a spoon in her cell wall in Fresnes prison in southern Paris and lowered herself to the ground using knotted sheets. She made it to the prison’s outer perimeter fence before being detained. Her husband has not been found.
Mounib's case is being closely watched as a test of how France treats its citizens who travelled to join ISIS and their families. The French authorities have been grappling with how to deal with the return of hundreds of citizens who left the country to join the terrorist group. While some of these individuals have expressed regret for their actions, others have been deemed a threat to national security.