“Our mission is to make sure that any foreign fighter . . . will die here in Syria”
Every once in a while there is a glimmer of hope in the global fight against radical Islamic terrorism. When even the French Defense Minister says of French citizens who leave to join ISIS in Syria, “If the jihadis perish in this fight, I would say that’s for the best,” that glimmer almost shines.
At one point, foreigners were flooding into ISIS-controlled areas, with as many as 30,000 jihadis arriving from scores of countries between 2011 and 2015. While this number has dwindled significantly as ISIS loses ground, there are still a good number of foreign ISIS fighters in Syria.
While it comes as no surprise that U. S. policy regarding Americans who leave to become ISIS fighters includes their dying in their chosen land for their chosen cause, it is a bit surprising (and heartening) to know that the U. S. is not alone in this sensible solution to dangers posed by ISIS-trained terrorists returning to their country of origin.
The forces fighting the remnants of the Islamic State group in Syria have tacit instructions on dealing with the foreigners who joined the extremist group by the thousands: Kill them on the battlefield.
As they made their last stand in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, an estimated 300 extremists holed up in and around a sports stadium and a hospital argued among themselves about whether to surrender, according to Kurdish commanders leading the forces that closed in. The final days were brutal — 75 coalition airstrikes in 48 hours and a flurry of desperate IS car bombs that were easily spotted in the sliver of devastated landscape still under militant control.
No government publicly expressed concern about the fate of its citizens who left and joined the Islamic State fighters plotting attacks at home and abroad. In France, which has suffered repeated violence claimed by the Islamic State — including the Nov. 13, 2015, attacks in Paris — Defense Minister Florence Parly was among the few to say it aloud.
“If the jihadis perish in this fight, I would say that’s for the best,” Parly told Europe 1 radio last week.
Those were the orders, according to the U.S.
“Our mission is to make sure that any foreign fighter who is here, who joined ISIS from a foreign country and came into Syria, they will die here in Syria,” said Brett McGurk, the top U.S. envoy for the anti-IS coalition, in an interview with Dubai-based Al-Aan television.
“So if they’re in Raqqa, they’re going to die in Raqqa,” he said.
Works for me.
Ultimately, these people pose a clear and present danger to their home countries, and as such, they are not welcome to return.
The AP continues:
Raqqa’s foreign holdouts are generally acknowledged to be midlevel IS recruits, and most are believed to have little information about the group’s inner workings. U.S. Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the coalition, said he had no information about any “high-value targets” among approximately 350 fighters who surrendered in Raqqa in the last days, including a few foreigners.
But for their home countries, they pose a risk.
“The general sentiment in northern Europe is we don’t want these people back, but I don’t think anyone has thought about the alternatives,” said Pieter Van Ostaeyen, an expert on the Belgian jihadis.
Among the complications are how to prosecute any returnees and how to track them if and when they leave custody.
“You can see why almost the preferred resolution is that they don’t return,” said Bruce Hoffman, head of Georgetown University’s security studies program and author of “Inside Terrorism.”
Sorry, Van Ostaeyen, but I beg to differ. Everyone has thought of alternatives to their returning to their home countries with their radical ideology and terror training, and it seems no one is objecting to the obvious and cleanest solution.DONATE
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