At least 130 ISIS terrorists to be brought back to France
Paris will repatriate around 130 men detained in Syria who are suspected of ISIS ties, according to a report published by BFM TV in France. The men are currently being held by the Syrian Democratic Forces, the partner of the US-led anti-ISIS Coalition. As the US contemplates withdrawing from Syria there were concerns about the detainees future and the threats they pose.
“All those who will return to France will be judged in court. If the judge estimates that it will be necessary to incarcerate them, and that will be the usual case, they will be put in jail,” French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told the station on Tuesday.
Castaner, the Minister of the Interior since October of last year, faces a difficult choice because many European countries and members of the Coalition have refrained from repatriating up to 600 of an estimated 3,200 ISIS members and their families held in Syria. Hundreds of these detainees are from European countries, some of the 5,000 ISIS members from Europe who went to Syria and Iraq and committed genocide against the area’s population, including Yazidis in Iraq in August 2014.
Many of the foreign ISIS members are suspected of the most brutal crimes of the organization, including the famous “Beatles” cell of ISIS members from the UK who executed Steven Sotloff and James Foley. Two alleged members of the group from the UK were captured by the SDF and are held in Syria. The UK moved to strip them of citizenship in 2018. Last week a woman from Trinidad was reunited with her sons who had been kidnapped by the ISIS-member father and taken to Syria. The sons were found by the SDF after having been abandoned, and were taken to Camp Roj in Syria where ISIS families, including many foreign wives, live.
In the face of almost certain defeat, thousands of ISIS members fled the last areas it holds near the Euphrates river. In early January American, Irish and other foreign ISIS members were detained. According to local sources the US FBI has been involved in interviewing some of the Americans who were detained. The SDF has been asking for foreign financial support and for foreign governments to take back their ISIS members. The burden of caring for 3,000 ISIS detainees and their families is difficult for the SDF, especially as the US is seeking to withdraw from Syria.
International human rights organizations have opposed the SDF transferring the ISIS criminals to Iraq, where many are accused of genocide, slave trading and rape. Human rights groups have also opposed transferring them to the Syrian government. Coalition members say the extremists pose a threat and should not be released. In limbo, the US has even sought to facilitate transferring the ISIS members from Syria to other places. One dual national was going to be sent to Saudi Arabia before the ACLU sought to block the transfer. According to Politico the US then planned to release the man and give him $4,000 and a cell phone, despite being suspected of being an ISIS member.
Some ISIS members were returned to Macedonia. At the time, in the summer of 2018, the US said that there were dozes of German, French and Russian foreign fighters held in Syria. “The government of France said they don’t want these people back,” said French Brig. Gen. Frederic Pariso in July 2018, according to CNN. Now, it appears that faced with uncertainty as to the future of the SDF in Syria, as well as the imminent withdrawal of US troops, France has decided to take responsibility for its citizens who illegally went to Syria and Iraq.