Hussein Snoussi, a Dutch Muslim of Moroccan origin, recounted that his daughter Maryam had left for Al-Raqqa, Syria, to join ISIS without telling the family, and that a few years later, her mother had joined her, taking their son Elias, then 14, with her. He talked of his devastation when he had been informed by Dutch intelligence personnel of his son's "martyrdom." Snoussi made an impassioned plea to "children who want to go to Syria or Iraq," saying that "they have no idea what kind of pain and anguish they inflict upon their families." The program aired on Al-Arabiya TV on August 12, 2017.
Interviewer: "What was the first time that you had a direct connection with the events in Syria?"
Hussein Snoussi: "I used to hear about it, but would always say that it had nothing to do with me. It did not concern me or my home personally, until I experienced this problem firsthand. It all began with my daughter Maryam, who is now 27 years old. She went to Syria at the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013. Maryam was raised in an ordinary Moroccan home and in an ordinary Moroccan family. We were always Muslims, but when Maryam turned 15, she began wearing a headscarf, and we were pleased because we thought that she was strengthening her ties with Islam. But as time passed, she began searching, and she felt that she was living in a country that was not suitable for her. She always said that she wanted to live in an Islamic country."
Interviewer: "Even though she was born in Holland..."
Hussein Snoussi: "Although she was born and raised here.
"She went [to Syria] without letting us know. Three weeks after she left, I got a call from the [Dutch] intelligence. They told me that Maryam was not in Cairo, but in Syria, in Al-Raqqa. I was shocked, I fell to the ground. My wife was in the kitchen, and she started crying when she heard me talking with the men from the intelligence. But I just sat on the ground and could not talk."
Interviewer: "But your shock did not end there. Later on, you were surprised to hear that Na'ima, who was now your ex-wife, and your son, who was 14 years old, also ran away to Syria."
Hussein Snoussi: "They called me and said: 'Your ex-wife and your son Elias are in Syria with your daughter. Didn't you know?'"
Interviewer: "Elias was 14 years old."
Hussein Snoussi: "14 and a half.
"The first time I heard the news about them was on July 2, 2015. A woman called me at 9 PM from an unidentified number. My wife and I were here. The woman said that she was from the Foreign Ministry and asked if I was home. I said I was. She said: 'Stay at home. In 20 minutes two men from the intelligence will come to talk to you.' I thought that something must have happened to Maryam. Maybe she was even martyred. But when they came, they showed me a dossier with two pictures. One of them was my ex-wife, and the other was of my son Elias. They informed me that he had been martyred that morning, at 6 AM. He was [martyred] along with five others. They were all children. Three of them were from Holland, and the others were from Belgium and elsewhere. Elias was the youngest, and the oldest was 16 years old. They had been sent to guard a big hangar where ISIS kept their weapons. This is how ISIS uses children aged 15 or 16.
"A little while later, Maryam called me and said: 'Don't be a fool, Dad. Stop crying! This is the will of Allah. Elias is a martyr. You should be glad. He is in Paradise.'"
Interviewer: "That's what Maryam said to you. How did you reply?"
Hussein Snoussi: "I told her: 'Elias was not martyred! You people killed him!'
"I say to children who want to go to Syria or Iraq and to help these organizations – whether ISIS, Jaysh Al-Tahrir, or whatever... They have no idea what kind of pain and anguish they inflict upon their families, especially their fathers and mothers. Not a day goes by when I don't cry."