A radicalized Frenchwoman dubbed ‘Jihadi Granny’ has been jailed for 10 years after following her son to Syria, where he was fighting for Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
Christine Rivière, 51, was sentenced following a trial in which she was charged with criminal conspiracy with a view to preparing terrorist acts.
The ‘Jihadi Granny’ said she followed her eldest son to Syria in order to support him and spend time with him, in case he faced an early death.
Rivière’s son, Tylor Vilus, converted to Islam in 2011 at the age of 21. He quickly became radicalized, moving to Tunisia to engage with jihadist groups there.
She followed him to Tunisia, also converted, and began following her son’s radicalized views.
Vilus left for Syria in 2013, backed by the support of his mother who sent him money and encouragement.
When her son left for Syria in 2013 and told her he as moving up the ranks of IS, Rivière reportedly replied: “I knew you’d do well, you’re made for that.” She also allegedly put him in touch with potential brides who were interesting in joining IS.
Rivière visited her son in Syria three times in 2013 and 2014, and was arrested in July 2014 as she was allegedly trying to move there permanently. A husband was reportedly waiting for her upon arrival in the country.
She said during the trial that she enjoyed Syria and preferred it over France, “despite the bombings and shootings,”according to court papers published by Le Monde.
“I wanted to make the most of [time with] my son before he dies… I know that will happen, of course, and if it does I’ll be happy for him because I know what that means for him. I know he will have a place in paradise… I want what he wants, like every good mother,” Rivière reportedly told investigators, the Guardian reported.
She denied claims that she financially supported IS, telling investigators it was “normal” to send her son money. She also denied personally fighting for the terrorist group.
“It was my son who took care of everything. I paid for the plane ticket,” Rivière said, as quoted by Libération newspaper. “I love my son. Since he became a Muslim, he has better behavior. But he has done things for which I do not agree too much.”
When asked about photos showing her heavily armed in Syria, she said she merely carried a weapon in the war-torn country “like everybody else.”
However, court papers state that violent propaganda pictures were found on her computer.
Rivière’s son was arrested in Turkey in July 2015 while traveling on a Swedish passport. He is currently awaiting trial in prison while an investigation is underway into his role in IS.