International courts, Guantanamo, citizenship-stripping: What next for Western ISIS supporters?

DAMASCUS, (DNA) — The final battle to end ISIS’s caliphate is now underway as US-backed forces push into the group’s last stronghold in Syria.But the predicted victory may be short-lived for Western countries, which will be forced to confront the problem of what to do with their citizens who went to Syria or Iraq to join the militant group.Hundreds of Western ISIS fighters are being held in refugee or detention camps by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria. Many others may still be ensconced in ISIS’s last bastion — which is shrinking by the hour — in the town of Baghouz Al-Fawqani.

Experts say few countries have embassies or extradition treaties with Syria, let alone with the Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria. Nor have they shown any desire to go to the areas where ISIS fighters and families are being held, and put their government representatives in harm’s way.
So what options are open to Western countries when it comes to dealing with their homegrown militants?


Despite urging Western governments to “take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,” US President Donald Trump instructed his administration not to allow the return of Hoda Muthana, an Alabama woman who left the United States in November 2014 to join ISIS.
The US is now contesting her American citizenship, even though a family representative told that Muthana, who is of Yemeni heritage, was born in the US and had a US passport.
A similar situation has played out in the UK, where the Home Office announced its intention to strip Shamima Begum, who joined ISIS in 2015, of her citizenship even though she is not a dual national — a move not accepted under international law.
In 2014, then-Home Secretary Theresa May (now Britain’s Prime Minister) was given the power to deprive someone of their citizenship if there were “reasonable grounds to believe that the person is able to become a national of another country or territory under its laws.”
Begum’s family is of Bangladeshi origin. However, Bangladesh’s foreign ministry said the 19-year-old was not a Bangladeshi citizen and would not be allowed entry to the country.
Rebecca Skellett, head of the strong cities network at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISR), an anti-extremism think tank in London, told that citizenship-stripping is a policy used largely on people from minority backgrounds.
She warned that it “suggests two different tiers to crimes” and “risks feeding into extremist narratives, that if you are Muslim or not part of the mainstream of society you will always be a second-class citizen in Western society.”
Begum’s husband, a Dutch ISIS fighter, has suggested a way out for his wife. Yago Riedijk, 27, who is currently in a Kurdish detention center in Syria, told on Sunday that he would like his wife and son to return to the Netherlands with him.
While refusing to comment on individual cases, a spokesman for the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security told that the Dutch government is not inclined to help Dutch ISIS fighters in Syrian territory.
But if a Dutch ISIS member “reports at a Dutch embassy or consulate, that person will be transported to the Netherlands, arrested and prosecuted,” he said.
And in line with other European countries, the spokesman added that “foreign fighters with two, or more, nationalities, who are deemed a threat to our national security, can have their Dutch citizenship (or) passport revoked.”.=DNA