UK: going easy on ISIS terrorists, hard on those who fought them

When it comes to prosecuting returning terrorists, the moral compass of the West seems to be entirely broken

Tuesday 13 August - The West has mercilessly let down persecuted minorities in the Middle East, while showing great concern for the well-being of returning ISIS terrorists, their children and their spouses. There seems to have been no such concern for the victims of ISIS terrorists, particularly the Christians and Yazidis.

In the Netherlands, the Dutch immigration service has been sending Yazidi asylum seekers back to refugee camps in northern Iraq, and arguing that they have sufficient access to food and other facilities.

By contrast, the Dutch Minister of Justice Ferdinand Grapperhaus has said that the Netherlands is 'looking into' the option of trying to move Dutch women and children living in refugee camps in Syria to safe areas where they can return to the Netherlands.

'What we are looking into is can we get them to safe areas, with the help of the people who have power over the camps,' Grapperhaus said. 'Then they can register at the Dutch consulate and we can get them to the Netherlands and the children to social services. That is my main motivation.'

As of May, the Netherlands was negotiating the safe passage of 10 women and their children, who have been staying in refugee camps in northeast Syria. The Netherlands, according to the Dutch news outlet AD, wants to ensure that these women and children can reach the nearest Dutch consulate in Erbil, Iraq without being arrested, tried and sentenced to death.

Pari Ibrahim, the founder and executive director of the Free Yezidi Foundation (FYF), told the website Kurdistan 24 that she is very concerned about the Yezidis in Iraq. 'We do not think European immigration authorities should be rejecting Yazidi asylum cases,' she said. 'Survivors of a genocide have special and unique needs that should be recognised.'

In addition, some European countries are actually in the process of prosecuting nationals who travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight against ISIS.

In the UK, it is estimated that just a few dozen British volunteers fought against ISIS. By comparison, approximately 850 UK nationals travelled from the UK to join ISIS.

Jim Matthews was the first person prosecuted for fighting with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). The YPG is not a proscribed terrorist group in the UK; its forces were backed by the British military and international airstrikes to drive ISIS out of its Syrian territories.

Nevertheless, Matthews was charged with 'attending a place used for terrorist training' for attending the training camp used for all YPG recruits. He said 

'We [British YPG volunteers] went out there because our government was not doing enough. It was a job that needed doing, we had to get Isis out of that territory.'

He was also evidently 'jolted' to join the fight against Isis after seeing a photograph of a jihadi holding a woman's severed head on Facebook. 'It seemed like one of the most evil single images I've ever seen in my life,' he said.

When he came back to the UK, he was arrested and accused of terrorism. In February 2019, the charges against him were dropped, seemingly for lack of evidence.

A second British national, Aidan James, who fought with the YPG against ISIS, was arrested and charged with terror offences in February 2018. James was charged with receiving training from the PKK, before going on to fight with Kurdish YPG units in Syria.

James's case, tried in April, was inconclusive: the jury failed to reach a verdict on whether he had committed terror offences by fighting against ISIS. Prosecutors said they would be seeking a retrial of his case.

Other European countries have also prosecuted fighters against ISIS for terrorism. In Denmark, Tommy Mørck became the first person sentenced under a Danish law that went into effect in September 2016, prohibiting Danish nationals from travelling to areas of conflict in Syria.

Mørck fought with Kurdish militias against the Islamic State in 2016 and 2017. In June 2018, he was sentenced to six months in prison in Denmark. He appealed the sentence, but in November 2018, the High Court confirmed the verdict.

While the UK government is seemingly intent on prosecuting those who have fought against ISIS, what has it been doing about the at least 425 returned ISIS terrorists themselves?

In February 2018, the UK government was asked why it was refusing to release figures on the number of returned jihadists being prosecuted. In response, the government seemed to admit that 'a significant portion' of the more than 400 Islamic State fighters who had returned to Britain at that time were at large and unpunished. They had been deemed 'no longer of national security concern'.

Editor's comment: The law does not appear to apply to ISIS terrorists the same way it applies to those Britons and Europeans who went to fight against them. The moral compass of the West seems to be entirely broken. Maybe Boris can fix it.

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