LONDON: Leaving former Daesh members such as Shamima Begum in Syria could be more dangerous than allowing them to return to the UK, the British government has been warned.
A recent court decision ruled that Begum, who left the UK at 15 to join Daesh in Syria, should be allowed to return to fight a legal battle over the removal of her British citizenship.
Her widely publicized effort to return to the UK has called attention to the question of what to do about hundreds of citizens-turned-extremists, being held in camps run by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who want to return to their country of origin.
Many of those who left the UK to fight for Daesh have had their citizenship revoked and are not being allowed home. Experts and politicians argue that this could create bigger problems for the UK in the future.
Maya Foa, director of the legal charity Reprieve, told The Independent newspaper that the current situation is “untenable.”
She said: “You have unstable camps, held by a non-state actor in a pretty fractious region where we know there have been escapes. They could very well be back on battlefields. That’s not a good option from a security perspective.”
She added: “It was the former director of MI6 who said leaving them there is more dangerous to
British national security than bringing them here, and it’s obvious to see why.”
Kurdish officials from the SDF have repeatedly called on nations to repatriate citizens from their Syrian camps.
They say the situation has become much more volatile since Turkey invaded northern Syria in October 2019.
British Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood has voiced concern about the security implications of
Turkey’s unilateral assault.
He accused the UK government of “walking away” after joining the US-led anti-Daesh coalition.
“Tens of thousands of hard-line fighters and families are held by a militia we trained — now under siege from Turkey,” he tweeted.
Ellwood told The Independent: “We’ll see Daesh 2.0. We’ll see a repeat of Al-Qaeda regrouping and becoming a very real threat, and that threat won’t just pose itself in the Middle East, but also to Britain.” He tweeted: “Daesh is escaping, regrouping and will attack the West again.”
Begum cannot currently return to the UK due to a pending challenge against the judgment in her favor by British Home Secretary Priti Patel.