Isis ‘terrorist’ bride Suhayra Aden and her children to return to NZ

An Isis “terrorist” bride and her two children will head to New Zealand from Turkey after the New Zealand Government agreed to manage their return.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement on Suhayra Aden – who has been described as a “terrorist” – and her two children today.

The three have been in immigration detention in Turkey since crossing the border from Syria earlier this year. Turkey has requested that New Zealand repatriate the family.

Aden lived in New Zealand until age 6, when she moved to Australia.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has described Aden as “an enemy of our country”.

Aden had dual citizenship, but Australia revoked her Australian citizenship and Ardern said New Zealand had an international responsibility to look after its citizens.

“New Zealand has not taken this step lightly. We have taken into account our international responsibilities as well as the details of this particular case, including the fact that children are involved,” Ardern said.

“I made very strong representations to Australia that she should be permitted to return there. Her family moved to Australia when she was 6 and she grew up there before departing for Syria in 2014, on an Australian passport. Unfortunately, Australia would not reverse the cancellation of citizenship.

“However, Australia has subsequently assured us it will proactively consult with New Zealand if any such case arises in future.”

Ardern said the welfare of Aden’s children was the primary concern.

“They are not Turkey’s responsibility, and with Australia refusing to accept the family, that makes them ours.”

Details about arrangements or timing to bring the family home will not be made public, and legal and operational reasons mean particulars of security arrangements in place for when they arrive cannot be disclosed.

“It has previously been made clear that any New Zealander who might be suspected of association with a terrorist group should expect to be investigated under New Zealand law, but that would be a matter for the Police,” Ardern said.

Removing Aden’s New Zealand citizenship would effectively leave her stateless, Ardern said.

“I can assure people great care is being taken as to how the woman and her young children are returned to New Zealand and how they will be managed in a way that minimises any risk for New Zealanders.

“Planning by agencies has been two-fold – to ensure all appropriate steps are in place to address potential security concerns and to have the right services in place to support reintegration, with particular focus on the wellbeing of the children.”

The Republic of Turkey’s Ministry of National Defence said Aden was an Islamic State terrorist.

“Three New Zealand nationals including an adult and two children were caught by our border guards in Hatay’s Reyhanli district while trying to enter illegally from Syria.

“The adult, a 26-year-old woman named SA, was identified as a Daesh [Isis] terrorist wanted with a ‘blue notice’.”

Intelligence expert Dr Paul Buchanan, of 36th Parallel Assessments, said the blue notice indicated Aden was sought for information rather than acts of terrorism.

“It doesn’t mean she’s been doing anything bad. Walking across the border with kids would seem to indicate she was a camp follower or concubine.”

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