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Europe unwilling to 'take back' Daesh fighters

US president has asked European countries to take back home-grown Daesh militants

Erdoğan Çağatay Zontur   | 20.02.2019
Europe unwilling to 'take back' Daesh fighters

By Selen Temizer

ANKARA

European countries appear reluctant to reclaim home-grown Daesh militants fighting in Syria following a call by U.S. President Donald Trump for them to face justice in their home countries.

The YPG/PKK terrorist group, with U.S. assistance, has captured Daesh's last stronghold of the town of Bagoz in eastern Syria's Deir Ez-Zor province.

Last Saturday, Trump tweeted: "The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial," using another abbreviation for the terror group.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Monday told a press conference Trump’s demand would be "difficult to implement".

"It is certainly not as easy as they think in America," Maas said, adding that the former Daesh members could only be allowed into the country if it could be ensured that they were taken into custody immediately.

French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet said the impending U.S. withdrawal made for a new geopolitical situation in the region, adding that there are no changes in her country's anti-terrorism policy.

France will examine the situation of the French citizens who enlisted in Daesh in Syria, and those who return to the country will be judged, she said.

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn asserted that a logical solution could only be reached through discussion.

"We should not send a tweet randomly," Asselborn said in a statement.

Surrendered Daesh terrorists have been transferred to a U.S. military base in Deir Ez-Zor province, later they were moved to the base in Al-Omar oil field area.

Gaps in legal processes

European countries have failed to take timely measures against foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), which UN defines as "individuals who travel to a State other than their State of residence or nationality for the purpose of the perpetration, planning or preparation of, or participation in, terrorist acts or the providing or receiving of terrorist training, including in connection with armed conflict".

Turkey has repeatedly warned foreign law enforcement agencies against FTFs for years; however, European countries’ legal systems still contain gaps.

FTFs are often sentenced with fairly short terms in their own countries as it is hard to prove their roles in terrorist groups abroad.

FTFs may radicalize other prisoners, or after release, they may plan or prepare terror acts in their countries.


Turkey’s fight against FTFs

Turkey has been taking measures about foreign fighters since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

According to judicial sources, over 70,000 people have been banned entry to the country, and over 7,000 linked to terrorist groups or fugitives have been deported.

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