After IS, Trinidad boys leave Syria with Pink Floyd help

After IS, Trinidad boys leave Syria with Pink Floyd help
Two boys from Trinidad were returned to their mother after being kidnapped and brought to Syria by their father, a member of IS.
2 min read
21 January, 2019
The two children were freed from the Raqqa area several months ago (Getty)

Syria's Kurdish forces handed two children from Trinidad and Tobago to their mother on Monday, four years after their militant father brought them to the Islamic State  group's "caliphate", a lawyer said.

Ayyub Ferreira, 7, and his brother Mahmud, 11, were to leave Syria after Pink Floyd singer Roger Waters helped fly their mother to meet them, lawyer and rights activist Clive Stafford-Smith said.

"The two children were kidnapped by their father from Trinidad and brought 4,000 miles (6,000 kilometres) over here" in June 2014, he said.

IS overran large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq that year, declaring a "caliphate" and attracting thousands of foreign militants.

It has since lost most of that territory to various offensives, including to one led by Kurdish fighters and backed by the US-led coalition.

"The two children were freed from the Raqqa area several months ago," said Fener al-Qait, a foreign affairs official with Syria's semi-autonomous Kurdish authorities.

An IS fighter, "the father was married to another woman. He was killed and his wife fled," he added.

Stafford-Smith said he tracked down the children's mother.

"I was talking to Roger Waters, the founder of Pink Floyd, the famous rock and roll band... He agreed to pay for it all and flew the mother over from Trinidad," the US-British lawyer said.

Cricketer or footballer

Once the boys are out of Syria, "we're going to make sure that they get on with a really productive, decent life," he said.

"One of them said he wanted to be a professional cricketer, and the other one said he wanted to be a professional footballer."

Kurdish-led forces have rounded up hundreds of foreigners who allegedly fought for IS, but they also hold more than 1,200 children and 500 women related to them.

The Kurds have repeatedly called on their home countries to take them back.

But Western governments have largely been reluctant, with public opinion against it after a series of IS-claimed attacks in Europe.

Stafford-Smith advocated for bringing other children home.

"When you look at the 1,248 children that are currently in custody here, obviously we've got to do the same for them," he said.

And, he said, "we cannot just take children back without taking their parents".