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US ‘infuriated’ at UK’s refusal to bring home Daesh recruits

Al-Hol displacement camp in Hasaka governorate, Syria, April 2, 2019. (Reuters)
Al-Hol displacement camp in Hasaka governorate, Syria, April 2, 2019. (Reuters)
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10 Feb 2022 10:02:47 GMT9
10 Feb 2022 10:02:47 GMT9
  • Squalid camps in Syria spawning new generation of extremists: Washington
  • Instead of repatriation, London has opted for controversial policy of stripping citizenship

Arab News

LONDON: The Biden administration is said to be “bemused and infuriated” by the UK’s refusal to repatriate Daesh fighters and their families from Syria, The Times reported on Thursday.

Officials warned that the “trust of the UK’s suitability as a security partner has been eroded considerably due to lackluster policy.”

London has consistently resisted allowing British citizens who traveled to Syria and Iraq to participate in Daesh’s so-called caliphate back into the UK. Instead, it has opted for a controversial policy of stripping some of them of their citizenship.

The government has so far brought back just a small number of orphans of British citizens, but has refused to allow fighters and their families to return, citing the security risk. 

In contrast, the US has repatriated dozens of Americans who joined Daesh, warning that the squalid camps in Syria are spawning a new generation of extremists.

The US and some British MPs have warned that abandoning citizens in Kurdish-administered camps represents a long-term threat to the region’s stability and the West’s security.

Conservative Party MP Andrew Mitchell told The Times: “We are at odds with our key allies on repatriation. It undermines our reputation on the UN Security Council and as a global leader on issues of peace and security. It is causing friction, not least with the US because they think it harms the global efforts to fight terrorism.”

John Godfrey, US acting coordinator for counterterrorism, said stripping citizenship and refusing to allow people to return simply “defers the problem.” 

He warned that it “puts the burden on local partners and the international community, which has neither the mandate nor the tools needed to successfully resolve such cases.”

Richard Barrett, a former director of global counterterrorism operations at Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service — also known as MI6 — said: “American leaders have been bemused and infuriated with the UK’s intractability.”

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