ISIS Is Training Women to Carry Out Attacks in Europe Via Turkey

The "relative silence" of the Islamic State terrorist organization following the collapse of its strongholds in Iraq and Syria should be worrisome for the West, a counter-terrorism expert has told Newsweek.

David Otto made the claims after reports emerged that ISIS had trained a Dutch and two Belgian women to carry out attacks in Europe.

An Isis member arrested by Syrian Kurds last August said during a hearing in the Belgian city of Antwerp that the women were taught "how to deal with explosives, after which they were also prepared to travel to Europe via Turkey," Dutch daily newspaper AD reported.

When ISIS emerged in 2014, it swept across Iraq and Syria and seized numerous territories and key cities. In its pursuit to expand its dominion, the group called on fellow Muslim men and women around the world to join their fight, leading to thousands of "foreign fighters" travelling to the Middle East and living inside the captured towns and cities under its administration.

One of the women who traveled to the ISIS-established Caliphate is Kaoutar Bioui. She is the wife of Hicham Chaib, leader of Shariah4Belgium, which the Belgian government declared a terrorist organization in 2015.

Some foreign fighters have now returned home, while others have traveled to far-flung areas of Syria and Iraq, Turkey and northern Africa, where analysts say they might regroup or join other organizations.

Isis flag
Members of the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) cheer as they carry upside-down a black flag of the Islamic State (IS) group, with the destroyed Al-Nuri mosque seen in the background, in the Old City of Mosul on July 2, 2017, during the offensive to retake the city from IS fighters. Western intelligence agencies warned fleeing foreign fighters hiding in Turkey could carry out attacks in the West. AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

Europe will see a further trend, not only of easy-to-carry out attacks using ordinary 'man and van' tactics, but also involving women who have been trained by ISIS to carry out suicidal attacks.

Otto believes that ISIS is "learning" from its ally in West Africa, Boko Haram, renowned for kidnapping civilians, particularly women and girls, and forcing them to carry out suicide bombing missions.

"More than ever, the relative silence of the ISIS leadership mechanism should be worrying for the U.S. and European coalitions," he told Newsweek.

"The ability of these trained women to cross the Turkish border back into Europe is highly unsuspecting as the focus will, wrongly, be on young men.

"The U.S. and Europe remain ISIS' number one enemy, but logistically it is Europe that will bear the brunt due to its geographical proximity to the Middle East," he continued.

An estimated 800 British people traveled to territories controlled by ISIS. Of these, 130 are believed to have been killed. Some 300 are believed to be hiding in Turkey now, with Western intelligence agencies already warning that they might plan terror attacks throughout Europe.

Around half of the British fighters who joined ISIS have already returned to the U.K., sparking a heated debate on how the government should deal with returnees.

Some have suggested they should be reintegrated to society and de-radicalized through counselling. Others have claimed fighters represent a threat to U.K. society and should be killed before they reach British soil.