Dad Of 'ISIS Bride' Makes Impassioned Plea To Save Her From Syrian Camp
Australian women and children in Syrian ISIS camps "are all innocents", said the father of one woman who was the victim of "grooming or trickery" when she went to the wartorn region.
More than 60 Australian women and children are currently stuck in the al-Hawl camp in northern Syria, a facility housing some 70,000 family members of ISIS militants. They have been the subject of a long-running political standoff in Canberra, as the federal government maintains they pose a security risk and resists calls to bring them home.
Australian woman Mariam Dabboussy is one of those being held in the al-Hawl camp. Her father, Kamalle, went to Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday to plead directly with federal politicians to rescue his daughter, grandchildren and others in the war zone.
One woman has allegedly been beaten with metal poles in recent days, and Kamalle Dabboussy said the "innocent" people are under threat of being slaughtered by ISIS members.
The situation has escalated in the past week as American troops withdraw from the region, paving the way for the Turkish military to cross the border into Syria to engage Kurdish forces. Gunfights and bombings have ensued, as the Turkish incursion meets resistance from local Kurds, and holdout pockets of ISIS fighters.
"A window is open at the moment that we do believe, and we need to make sure the Australian Government knows that that is open and that the time is shortening," Kamalle Dabboussy told a press conference.
Action can still be taken, but I think that's a situation of days rather than weeks.
"The Australian women have all been deemed as apostates or non-radicalised women who don't believe in the ISIS ideology and the ISIS ideology allows them to be killed as a result. So they are open and vulnerable at this point in time."
Mariam said she was tricked by her husband into travelling to Syria in 2015, after he initially took her and their children on a holiday through Asia and the Middle East. She ended up in a home occupied by ISIS supporters. Her husband was killed in an airstrike just months after they arrived.
Earlier on Tuesday, the ABC had published audio of Mariam -- a mother of three children -- begging the federal government for help.
"Please don't let us fall into the hands of the [Syrian] regime," she said in a recording given to the ABC by her father, Kamalle Dabboussy.
"We're asking just as humans, just as regretful people."
A second woman, Zara Ahmad, sent a message saying a woman's mutilated body was found in the toilets at the camp.
"I'm so scared, I don't know how much longer I can do this for," she said.
Dabboussy, speaking alongside Mat Tinkler of advocacy organisation Save The Children, said 66 Australians were currently in the camp, including 46 children, the majority of those under the age of five.
Two more Australians have recently been found in the camp, including one young boy who is "quite seriously ill... a life and death situation."
Home affairs minister Peter Dutton has rebuffed calls for Australia to rescue these women and children. He claimed on 2GB radio last week that some of the women "had the capacity and the potential to come back here to cause a mass casualty event", and were "as hardcore as some of the male terrorists."
“We’re not going to send our soldiers or our staff through the foreign affairs department or my department into harm’s way to rescue people of this nature,” Dutton said.
Tinkler said "we believe it's possible to extract Australian nationals without putting Australians at further risk", adding that federal authorities would have the ability to level charges against them -- if warranted -- once they make it to safety. He said the families are prepared to work with law enforcement and security agencies to mitigate risk.
"Kamalle is doing what any other father would do," Tinkler said.
"In our view, it's much better for the Australian justice system to prosecute any case that exists and secure the safety and appropriate treatment of these people, than allowing them to stay in a place like war torn north-east Syria."
Dabboussy added many of those Australians in the camps had been the victims of "grooming or trickery" by their husbands in the terrorist group, and claimed none had been involved in combat.
"It's important to remember that the majority of the people we're talking about are children. In my daughter's case, quite specifically and clearly, she was coerced into going. That's been recognised by the Australian authorities," he said.
"The first I knew she was in Syria was when the government knocked on my door and told me she was coerced across the border at gunpoint."
Dabboussy also shrugged off suggestions of the women posing a security threat, saying "there is no evidence to us that they are a risk."
"They are all innocents. They've all been groomed, duped, coerced," he said.
"No-one has brought me evidence to the contrary and if something exists, then due process can be undertaken."
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