Terrorists who traveled to Syria are allowed to walk the British streets free.
bY KIEREN UNDERWOOD and Scott Creighton of American Everyman
ere are startling figures. The British government believes up to 850 Britons left the country to fight with the Islamic State. Over 400 of them have returned home. Of them, only 54 have been convicted of crimes. The rest have been left free to “reintegrate.”
If this seems crazy, here’s the rationale as described by the Telegraph: “So far, only a small proportion have been prosecuted and counterterrorism officials have said it can be difficult to find evidence that they committed crimes in the war zones of Syria and Iraq.”
Max Hill QC has been the brains providing the intellectual backing for such policies. He is the government’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation. Of returning fighters, he said that Britons who had “traveled out of a sense of naivety, possibly with some brainwashing along the way, possibly in their mid-teens and who return in a sense of utter disillusionment” should be kept out of the court system.
The Telegraph also reported on October 29 that “the Home Office is looking at a new strategy to reintegrate extremists that could even see them propelled to the top of council house waiting lists if needed.” They could even have their rent paid by the taxpayer. “We are planning a number of pilots to explore the best way to diverting such people from terrorism and extremist activity,” said an unnamed source.
On the other side of the fence sits Tory Member of Parliament Rory Stewart, famous for his travel books on Afghanistan and Iraq, who says nearly all British Islamic State fighters “should be killed.” Vocal alongside him is Col. Richard Kemp, a former government counterterrorism adviser, who says giving incentives to those who traveled overseas to fight with the Islamic State is “obscene.” As reported by the Telegraph, Kemp told an audience:
I think it’s a very much mistaken policy. When you look at the profile of many of the people who have been involved in terrorist attacks in the UK, or traveled overseas, they do not come from deprived backgrounds. …
British citizens fly to the Middle East to join a group known for some of the most brutal violence the world has seen since World War Beheadings, torture, mass rapes, cage drownings, and forced cannibalism are just some of their calling cards. Then, whether or not it is known if they participated in the brutality, they return to their home country, their only official punishment being put on some formal terrorist “watch list.”