Justice for ISIS Terrorists? Not in the UK or Canada

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'Jihadi John' beheads American journalist James Foley
‘Jihadi John’ beheads American journalist James Foley (Photo: Video screenshot)

Why do America’s allies find it so hard to bring ISIS terrorists to justice?

Two stories caught our attention recently. One, of a Canadian university student who left Toronto in 2014 to fight for ISIS. He was captured four months ago by Kurdish forces attempting to escape Syria into Turkey and is being held in a makeshift prison in northeast Syria by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Mohammad Ali, 28, who went by the nom-de-guerre Abu Turaab Al-Kanadi, was of particular importance as he was media savvy and used his talent to recruit others and plan terror attacks.

The Kurds would like to send Ali, along with another dozen Canadian ISIS fighters, back to Canada. So, what’s the hold up?

It seems those in charge, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, are “struggling to bring terrorism charges against Canadians who have taken part in overseas terror groups,” meaning, there is no guarantee Ali would face arrest upon his return to Canada.

Ditto in the UK. Remember Jihadi John and his gang of four (dubbed “The Beatles”) who were responsible for torturing and beheading American and other foreign journalists, among others whom they captured?

Britain is resisting repatriating the two “Beatles” still alive (plus about seven other Brits who joined ISIS and have since been captured) after the Crown Prosecution Service said, despite the fact that police gathered close to 600 statements from witnesses, “both cases will collapse due to process reasons,” meaning they would result in no conviction.

Instead, the government decided to send the two to stand trial in the U.S., where convictions for their offenses will be “not as problematic.”

Back in Canada, to where about 60 suspected ISIS fighters returned, the government remains tight-lipped about their identities, where they traveled, what they did and how they are being handled. PC lingo coming out of government officials includes talk of “deradicalization” and “reintegration” programs.

See our infographic: US Leads Global Track Down of Returning Foreign Jihadis

One thing is certain: very few cases have gone to court. The most one hears is that the returnees are monitored and, in some cases, put on no-fly lists, leaving regular Canadian citizens on edge about their safety.

Canada and the UK (as well European countries facing the same issue) need to take a lesson from the U.S. and change their laws accordingly. Pushing the problem off to America and the Kurds will not make it go away. Ultimately, it will leave their countries more vulnerable to the threat of terrorism and radicalization.



Returning ISIS Fighters: Where Are They?

UN: Up to 30% of Foreign ISIS Fighters Have Returned Home 

Returning Jihadis Given ‘Protected Identities’ 


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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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