Should Jihadis be allowed back into the UK?

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Jihadis who traveled to Syria to join ISIS, who are now Jailed in Syria and Iraq should be allowed to return to Britain. A new report from the Soufan Centre, a nonprofit organization based in New York dedicated to serving as a resource and forum for research, analysis, and strategic dialogue related to global security issues and emergent threats. ‘Interestingly… the threat posed by those who never left, and thus never experienced the horrors of the caliphate, could be more significant than from those who left home to fight with the Islamic State before returning home.’ This therefore suggets that jihadis who never experienced the horrors of the caliphate could pose a more significant threat than thhose who subsequently experienced these horrors and chose to leave Islamic State.It says many returnees look back upon ISIS with a “combination of despair and disillusionment” and there is a greater threat posed from those “who are susceptible to the siren call of jihadist propaganda.”According to the report, written by ex-FBI man Ali Soufan, : “In general, male detainees, especially those suspected of playing a direct role in fighting for the Islamic State, are considered high risk and many countries are reluctant to bring these individuals back home, because of concerns about terrorism and radicalization. “[But] recent research, research by terrorism expert Thomas Renard, he said: “More often than not, those who do return to their countries of origin after leaving the caliphate look back upon the Islamic State with a combination of despair and disillusionment.

“To be clear, there is still a real and tangible threat posed by individuals who are susceptible to the siren call of jihadist propaganda. “Interestingly, although with some exceptions, the threat posed by those who never left, and thus never experienced the horrors of the caliphate, could be more significant than from those who left home to fight with the Islamic State before returning home.

 Western countries have decried the complications of prosecuting their citizens, citing a lack of battlefield evidence, or in cases where individuals are prosecuted and sentenced, the challenge of relatively short prison sentences. In general, male detainees, especially those suspected of playing a direct role in fighting for the Islamic State, are considered high risk and many countries are reluctant to bring these individuals back home, concerned about terrorism and radicalization.

Begum, who left the UK at age 15 to join ISIS made the headlines in 2019 when she announced her intention to return to her country of birth, a move which was subsequently blocked by the Home Office. However, the report, of the Soufan Centre, advocates a dramatic change of policy.

British born-Begum, who is currently living in a Kurdish-controlled camp in northern Syria, is now a 21, and gave birth to three children while living in Syria, all of whom have since died. She was stripped of her UK citizenship by then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid in 2019,

However, in a statement made by the government of Bangladesh on the 16th of June 2020, British citizen Shamima was never a Bangladeshi citizen,” Bangladeshi’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement to the Dhaka Tribune. 

Speaking in September 2019, newly appointed Home Secretary Priti Patel stressed there was no way she would be allowed back into the UK. She added: “Our job is to keep our country safe. “We cannot have people who would do us harm allowed to enter our country – and that includes this woman. “Everything I see in terms of security and intelligence, I am simply not willing to allow anybody who has been an active supporter or campaigner of IS in this country.”

A Home Office spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “Those who chose to leave the UK and fight for, or support, Daesh potentially pose a very serious national security risk.“It is right they face justice and prosecution in the country where they committed their offence.

Soufan warned ”With a rise in right-wing extremism throughout Europe, and the complications related to COVID-19 exacerbating budget shortfalls and other resource issues, law enforcement agencies and security services will not be able to focus as intently on countering jihadist-related violence.

However, he added: “Even so, leaving one’s citizens as ‘stateless’ almost guarantees that these individuals will have no other options but to consider themselves citizens of the Islamic State. “Within the camps there are often shortages of food and water, disease is rampant, and children have little access to education. “If the coronavirus reaches the camp and begins to spread, the consequences will be devastating.”

The report suggests the British Government may one day have to accept the repatriation of UK prisoners. Even notorious radicals such as henchmen of Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, an IS man, his two wives and nine children were recently repatriated to France, which has taken back over 200 jihadis. But a British security source said: “Under the Johnson government it is very unlikely these people will be allowed to return but in the long run it cannot be discounted, given the ever-changing situation in the Middle East.”

With no definitive response from the Muslim community with the UK in regard to the possible return to the UK for Jihadis such as Begum, there appears to be little support for such a move within the British government and British Muslim community.

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Sources

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/11938723/jailed-jihadis-should-return-britain-ex-fbi-officer-says/

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1300420/shamima-begum-isis-bride-return-UK-jihadi-syria-islamic-state-priti-patel