What to do with captured terrorists

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The fools from around the world, most of them young, who flocked to support Daesh (the self-proclaimed IS) have paid the price for their wicked choice. The last terrorist remnants are fighting for their lives in a small enclave in Syria. Thousands of their fellow dupes have died, many blown to pieces by Coalition bombs or blasted by Iraqi security forces or Kurdish militias.

Thousands more have been captured and are currently being held in camps. Some were once Daesh fighters, who used to parade around with their black flags brutalizing the locals in areas they had overrun. Others are the wives and children of these killers. Most of the women went willingly to Daesh territory, smuggled easily through a once-indulgent Turkey. They included teenagers who responded to the blasphemous terrorist call for jihad.

One of them, Shamima Begum, left the UK aged 15 with two friends from her East London school to become the wives of terrorists. One of Begum’s companions died in an air strike. The whereabouts of the other is still unknown. Now held in a Syrian refugee camp, Begum has just been stripped of her British citizenship. The UK government has taken the view that, not least because she is unrepentant about her criminal behavior, her return to Britain would pose a security threat to other British citizens. Because her mother was born in Bangladesh and while with Daesh she married a terrorist with Dutch citizenship, London maintains she has no right to return and that they are justified in using what are effectively legal loopholes, to stop her from going back to her family in London.

Though mainstream representatives of UK Muslims have thus far said little, groups linked with the Muslim Brotherhood have sided with British liberals to denounce the government’s decision and are likely to mount a legal challenge. Begum’s case would seem to be the stronger since last week she gave birth to a child. Her two previous children died for lack of basic medical care in Daesh territory. Begum’s new baby is only one of at least a thousand children born to terrorist families, who are currently languishing in refugee camps. There is a strong argument that because these kids are guilty of no crime, they should not be punished for being born to violent members of a murderous band of thugs.

President Donald Trump, no less, has said that the countries from which these people came should take them back. There are believed to be some 800 terrorist detainees who left their homes in Europe to join Daesh. The US authorities want to try two men, now stripped of their British citizenship, for the videoed beheading of a US journalist. But Washington’s view otherwise is that it is for the countries of origin to prosecute their citizens for whatever crimes they are thought to have committed while part of the terrorist group. In certain European states, including France and the UK, joining Daesh is a crime.

All of these people are clearly a grave danger to civilized society. But perhaps lessons could be learned from the way in which the Kingdom treated captured citizens who had joined Al-Qaeda. Provided they were not murderers, they were put into an intensive rehabilitation program. A sufficient number emerged repentant and reformed to prove that this treatment was markedly effective.


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