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Who are the Belgian IS fighters?

OCAD, the Belgian body that monitors the terrorist threat, has released detailed information about the number of Belgian jihadi fighters in captivity in Syria.  Up to six Belgians are incarcerated, while the whereabouts of 150 others is uncertain.

OCAD believes there are between 4 and 6 Belgian IS fighters in captivity in Northern Syria.  They include Hamsa Nmili and Caner Cankurtaran, both from Vilvoorde, outside Brussels.  In addition 17 women and 32 children are in Syrian refugee camps.  Several women have been convicted in absentia.

Hamsa Nmili headed for Syria in 2013 and joined the Majlis Shura Al Mujahideen insurgency. Nmili left IS in 2017 and was captured by Kurdish fighters in Raqqa.

Caner Cankurtaran is a dual Turkish/Belgian national, who moved to Syria with his parents in 2012.  He then crossed the Syrian border and married a lass from Antwerp.  He denies helping radicalised Belgians to get to Syria.  He was arrested when he tried to flee to Turkey in 2017. In Belgium he was sentenced to 15 years in absentia. 

Two other Belgians, Tarik Jadaoun from Verviers, and Bilal al Machrohi from Antwerp are in Iraqi prisons. They are being tried. Tarik Jadaoun has been sentenced to death but may appeal.  There is greatest concern about the Belgian prisoners in Syria because they might be freed. 

Six prisoners seems a low number given the fact that 422 Belgians went to fight in the Middle East or attempted to get to there.  142 died.  130 have meanwhile returned.  Around ten of those who returned are dead too.  Several were killed in the Brussels and Paris attacks.150 are still in the Middle East.  Many have been killed, but intelligence services believe a number may be in other Syrian prison cells.