French Court Charges Moroccan Woman with Terrorism, Kidnapping Minors

Jihane Makhzoumi is charged with terrorism, kidnapping, and child abandonment.

Rabat – The Paris Assize Court sentenced Moroccan Jihane Makhzoumi to 14 years in prison on charges of terrorism and kidnapping on Friday, November 29. 

Makhzoumi appeared shocked at the terms of her sentencing, according to French news outlet Le Parisien. Her lawyers, Clemence Witt and Florian Lastelle, intend to appeal her sentence, citing a lack of psychiatric examination. 

Terrorism, kidnapping, and child abandonment

In August 2014, the 38-year-old Moroccan woman traveled from France to Syria with her husband, Eddy Leroux, to support the ISIS cause.

The radicalized couple, who had been living in France, took a total of four children with them to join ISIS in the city of Raqqa.

French Court Charges Moroccan Woman with Terrorism, Kidnapping MinorsThe couple took a total of four children with them to Syria.

Only one child—the youngest of the group—was born to Makhzoumi and Leroux. Two children were born of Makhzoumi’s first marriage, and another child was born of Leroux’s first marriage. 

Neither Makhzoumi or Leroux informed their former spouses of the decision to take the children to Syria. Leroux told his ex-wife that he was taking their daughter to Morocco.  

Read also: Moroccan Woman Joins ISIS with Her Four Children and French Husband

Leroux, a French convert to Islam, was presumed dead in 2015. Of the four children that the couple took to Syria, only three returned to France with Makhzoumi in October 2016. 

Still in Syria is an 8-year-old girl named Jana, the daughter of Leroux and his first wife, Ilham Tarbouni. 

French Court Charges Moroccan Woman with Terrorism, Kidnapping MinorsIlham Tarbouni with her daughter Jana before she was kidnapped.

Jana’s mother firmly believes that Makhzoumi knows where the girl is and that she intentionally left Jana in Syria.

In June 2015, Makhzoumi told her ex-husband through WhatsApp that she had helped someone in Syria take a child who was not hers. Investigators believe she is referring to Jana in this message. 

In September 2016, shortly before she returned to France, Makhzoumi sent her ex-husband a WhatsApp message stating that “her father (Leroux) wanted her (Jana) to stay. It is the will of her father.”

In her final statement at court on Friday, Makhzoumi apologized to Jana’s family, her ex-husband, and her family. 

Read also: Iraq Wants to Send Home Wives and Children of Moroccan ISIS Fighters

Tarbouni has been continuously appealing to the French government to take action to recover her daughter, who has been missing for three years. 

In March 2019, Tarbouni’s brother traveled to Qamichli in northern Syria to search for Jana.

French Court Charges Moroccan Woman with Terrorism, Kidnapping MinorsMostapha Tarbouni in Syria searching for Jana. Photo credit: AFP/Giuseppe Cacace