A radicalised French woman who followed her son to Syria, where he was fighting for the Islamic State group (IS), has been given a maximum ten years in jail by a Paris court, reports The Guardian.
Christine Rivière, 51, nicknamed “Jihadi Granny” by investigators, had said she wanted to support her son and spend time with him in case he met an early death.
Delivered the verdict, the judge said she had demonstrated “a firm commitment” to IS and had contributed to strengthening the group logistically. “Instead of trying to disengage your son, it seems on the contrary that you encouraged him,” the judge said.
Rivière, from Troyes in eastern France, is the oldest of around 30 women who have been held on suspicion of links to terrorism over journeys they made between France and Syria. Whereas most of the women are young, Rivière’s case stood out for her radicalisation alongside her son.
Rivière grew up in a family that travelled France working on fairgrounds. At 16 she began a job in a factory, and later she had two sons whom she raised alone. Her youngest son, Tylor Vilus, converted to Islam in 2011, aged 21, and became radicalised, moving to Tunisia to engage with jihadist groups there. Rivière followed him to Tunisia, also converted and adhered to her son’s radicalised views.
Vilus left for Syria in 2013 with his mother’s support and encouragement and she sent him money. When he told her – in messages later seized by investigators – that he was moving up the ranks of IS, she is said to have replied: “I knew you’d do well, you’re made for that.” She allegedly tried to put him in touch with potential brides, women interested in joining Islamic State.
Rivière was arrested in July 2014 when she was allegedly preparing to move permanently to Syria after three previous visits to her son in IS-held areas in 2013 and 2014. She told judges she felt good in Syria and preferred living there to France, “despite the bombings and shootings”, according to court papers published in French daily Le Monde.