In the absence of national statistics on the subject, it is very difficult to estimate the number of children born of relationships, both consensual and forced, between Iraqi women and Al Qaeda fighters.
During the chaotic war period in Iraq, many religious marriages were organized, most of which were forced. Eager to spread their message, terrorist organisations see these children as a new generation of fighters in their war against infidels.
Children on the margins of society:
As these births are not officially recorded, children from such unions have no identity cards or nationality, which means that they have no access to public services. Condemned to a life of deprivation, they exist on the margins of society. Through identification with their father’s crimes, they are stigmatised and suffer the animosity of the many victims of terrorism. Politicians are divided on the issue of according them recognition as Iraqi citizens.
Rejected on religious and political pretexts:
These children, first considered as victims of Al Qaeda, were later perceived as a threat. Parliamentarians, mostly Shiites, have rejected the idea of granting them citizenship as they are descended from Sunni fathers.
These children live in ignorance, lacking all knowledge about their fathers, usually killed in conflict; their mothers are often too ashamed to reveal their identity. Considered as war accomplices, the raping of these women is not recognised. An official in the Iraqi ministry says, “if we help them, it might encourage the al-Qaeda“.
An uncertain future:
Ahmed Jassim, Director of the Nour Foundation which is working to improve the rights of children of Islamists in the Diyala Province, warns: “it is a dangerous situation; in future these children may hold a grudge against the society that has made them suffer“.
The hidden legacy of the seven years of war, these children are in fact paying for their fathers’ crimes.