Thousands of interned Islamic State terrorists and their families pose a risk to the ongoing security of the Middle East and their Syria Kurd captors want the world to take them back.
The White House and the Department of Defense announced Friday that territory controlled by the Islamic State was 100 percent eliminated, prompting the Syria Kurdish administration’s top foreign affairs official Abdel Karim Omar to warn foreign captives still pose a problem that must be defused.
“There are thousands of fighters, children and women and from 54 countries, not including Iraqis and Syrians, who are a serious burden and danger for us and for the international community,” Omar told AFP.
“Numbers increased massively during the last 20 days of the Baghouz operation,” he said, referring to the village by the Euphrates where diehard jihadists made a bloody last stand.
Jihadists and their families gradually gathered in Baghouz as the last rump of the “caliphate” shrank around them and while some have managed to escape, many of the foreigners stayed behind, either surrendering to the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) or fighting to the death.
According to the SDF, 66,000 people left the last IS pocket since January, including 5,000 jihadists and 24,000 of their relatives, with many predicted to be on their way to Europe, with Hungary already sounding a warning of the possible repercussions:
Hungarian Govt: ISIS Jihadists Returning to EU ‘By the Hundreds’, ‘This Must Be Stopped’ https://t.co/zPk6zEZI6s
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 22, 2019
As Breitbart News reported, France alone is expected to receive around 130 jihadists from Syria who went to fight for terror groups, with the returning fighters expected to be detained and face trial.
All of the men expected to return in the next few weeks are members of Islamic State who were captured by Kurdish forces and are expected to return to France by plane. The move comes after French authorities feared that the withdrawal of U.S. troops could impact their ability to keep track of the jihadist fighters, BFMTV reports.
But many of the suspected jihadists’ countries of origin are reluctant to take them back due to potential security risks and a likely public backlash. Some like Australia have taken citizenship from their nationals detained in Syria.
Last August Australia announced it had stripped five Syria-based dual nationals of their citizenship due to their involvement with the Islamic State terrorist group.
A total of six people have now lost their Australian citizenship since the law was changed in 2015 to enable dual nationals to lose their citizenship rights for actions contrary to their allegiance to Australia, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said.
Other countries that have not stripped their nationals of citizenship will now be pressured to accept the jihadis home.
“There has to be coordination between us and the international community to address this danger,” Abdel Karim Omar said. “There are thousands of children who have been raised according to IS ideology,” he added.
“If these children are not reeducated and reintegrated in their societies of origin, they are potential future terrorists.”
AFP contributed to this report
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