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18 Feb, 2019 01:32

But they are dangerous! Europe reluctant to ‘take back’ ISIS fighters as Trump demands

But they are dangerous! Europe reluctant to ‘take back’ ISIS fighters as Trump demands

Trump’s call to European countries to “take back” and prosecute jihadists captured in Syria has met quite a mixed reaction, with Germany expressing legal concerns over the move and Denmark rejecting it altogether.

The bold demand was tweeted by the US president on Sunday. The options for Europe are simple – to take Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) fighters "back," or the US and its subordinate militants in Syria "will be forced to release them."

The call was heard, yet some countries flatly rejected it.

"We are talking about the most dangerous people in the world. We should not take them back," a spokesperson for Denmark's prime pinister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, said. The official described Trump's call as premature, claiming that the situation in Syria was far from stable.

Also on rt.com Trump tells Europe to 'take back' 800 ISIS fighters or US 'will be forced to release them'

Germany was more subtle in its dismissal of Trump's demand, explaining that in theory German nationals who fought in IS ranks have the right to come back. Certain legal obstacles, however, prevent their immediate return.

"In principle, all German citizens and those suspected of having fought for so-called IS have the right to return," a spokesperson for the German Interior Ministry said, explaining that proper consular access to such individuals is required before a decision on taking them back can be made.

The Belgian government was taken off guard by the tweeted ultimatum, with Justice Minister Koen Geens accusing Trump of blindsiding his European allies with the demand.

"It would have been nice for friendly nations to have these kinds of questions raised through the usual diplomatic channels rather than a tweet in the middle of the night," Geens told a local broadcaster on Sunday, while urging for a pan-European solution to the problem.

Without responding directly to Trump's remarks, French Secretary of State Laurent Nuñez instead said that France believes the US-backed Kurdish militias would not let the captured French jihadists roam free.

"It's the Kurds who hold them and we have every confidence in their ability to keep them," Nuñez told French broadcaster BFMTV on Sunday. However, he appeared to accept the possibility that France might have to deal with returning foreign fighters eventually.

"Anyway, if these individuals return to the national territory, they all have ongoing judicial proceedings, they will all be put on trial, and incarcerated," he said.

In the UK, where the unfolding saga over British jihadist bride Shamima Begum reignited the debate on whether or not to take back British citizens that had been embedded with terrorists in Syria, there seems to be two opposing views.

READ MORE: Pentagon resists US withdrawal from Syria, claims ISIS might rise again

In a column in the Sunday Times, British Interior Minister Sajid Javid advocated for stripping "dangerous individuals" coming back to the UK of their British citizenship, noting that this option, one of several available, "has been so far exercised more than 100 times." Another option, Javid wrote, was to prosecute the returnees "regardless of their age and gender."

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright was softer in his rhetoric, telling BBC on Sunday that it was the government's obligation "at some stage at least, to take them back."

Begum, who fled the UK at the age of 15, is now 19 and had her third child in Syria on Sunday. While stating her desire to return to the UK, Begum showed little repentance, saying that she was glad to live under the Sharia law and to have married her husband, an ISIS fighter, there.

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