France: Muslim jailed for 10 years for kidnapping daughter, fleeing to Syria to take part in ‘armed jihad’

RFI, March 7, 2018. (Archive link)

A French-Tunisian man was jailed for 10 years on Tuesday for going to fight in Syria and kidnapping his 18-month-old daughter to take her with him. The latest figures show that 300 French Islamists have been killed in the Iraq-Syria conflict.

A Paris court found 29-year-old Hamza Mandhouj guilty of criminal conspiracy with terrorist aims and abduction of a minor and ordered that he must serve a minimum of half his sentence.

Denouncing the “appalling blackmail” he exercised on the child’s mother, Meriam Rhaiem, the prosecution described the case as “a marital dispute overlaid by a wish to take part in armed jihad”.

On 14 October, as divorce proceedings were going through, Mandhouj collected his daughter, Aissa, from his parents-in-law and never took her back.

He left for Turkey, going on to Syria in December to join his brother, Mohamed Ali, who was already working with Oumar Diaby, a recruiter for the Al-Nusra Front Islamist group.

Compensation for kidnapping

Mandhouj denied wanting to join a terrorist group but the prosecution claimed he gave logistical support to recruits and encouraged minors to come to Syria.

He was caught when his ex-wife, whom he phoned regularly to try to persuade her to join him, arranged a meeting in a hotel in Turkey near the Syrian border so that he could hand over Assia.

Mandhouj was ordered to pay 60,000 euros in compensation for the abduction….