Kurdish fighters in Syria arrested Emilie Koenig, 33, who became one of the most infamous French extremists since travelling to Syria in 2012. She played an important role in online recruiting and propagating for ISIS, her mother said on Tuesday.
France’s BFMTV channel aired the news on Tuesday reporting that Emily is the most wanted extremist by French and international intelligence agencies.
A dangerous fighter
The 33-year-old played a prominent role in recruiting and doing propaganda for the extremist organization, as well as leading armed operations in France, according to BFMTV.
Koenig left France to join ISIS in Syria in 2012. She went back to her country briefly in August of 2013 in a failed attempt to take her two kids from her first husband.
She remarried a French ISIS fighter in Syria and bared his three children. She began training on weapons like the Kalashnikov, while posting videos and promoting the weapons on Youtube in order to broadcast the “women’s news in the Caliphate”.
In another video she addressed propaganda messages to her two sons who still live in France with their grandmother.
“Don't forget that you are Muslim,” she told the boys. “Jihad will not end as long as there are enemies to vanquish,” The Local newspaper reported her saying.
Koenig, who had already appeared on a UN watch list in September 2014, was added to the US State Department's list for encouraging sympathizers in France to attack French government institutions, according to The Local.
Her journey to extremism
Koenig was born in Lorient, France and was the youngest of four children. When she turned two, her father separated from her mother and left them.
Koenig, who was born and raised Catholic, met a French-Algerian man while studying at the local school, whom she later married after converting to Islam for him, and gave birth to two children. He was later imprisoned for dealing drugs.
After converting to Islam, Koenig learned the Arabic language and wore the full face veil. This was the beginning of her extremist ways, and came into contact with Forsane Alizza, a local Islamist group also called the “knights of pride” which gained attention for its protests against France's 2010 decision to ban full-face veils in public, according to The Local.
Koenig was arrested in 2010 by French authorities for handing out flyers that promote violence and extremism near a mosque in Lorient, according to The Local newspaper. She was also often seen at the forefront of protests in Paris, fully veiled.
In 2012, when summoned to court for her actions, she refused to remove her veil, prompting an altercation with a security guard that she filmed and posted on YouTube. According to the newspaper, she had several Facebook accounts which she used to call for a ‘holy war’.
ISIS concentration camp for French families
After she became a household name in France, Koenig’s mother, 70, who lives in Lorient said that her daughter called her on the phone and said that she is in a Kurdish concentration camp in Syria with her three children.
Koenig also told her mother that she was being tortured and interrogated, with very little food supply and was moved to three different locations already. Her mother added that Koenig is calling on the French government to return her and her three children who were born in Syria to France.
Koenig’s mother said that her daughter showed signs of regret and remorse over her actions and way of thinking, and wishes to pay her dues in France, the newspaper reported.
Koenig’s mother received the phone call in July of 2017, after Koenig’s house was shelled and she suffered face burns, according to her mother.
According to BFMTV, the concentration camp where Koenig is staying is run by Kurdish fighters and houses other French families who joined ISIS.
Koenig was one of three French nationals named on the list of 35 people from a variety of countries who were hit with sanctions or terror designations for their affiliation with ISIS, according to the newspaper.
Maxime Hauchard, who has appeared in ISIS execution videos, and Peter Cherif, a member of Al-Qaeda's Yemen affiliate AQAP, were also named.