Trump Calls on European Allies to Take Back Captured ISIS Terrorists

February 17, 2019 Updated: February 21, 2019

President Donald Trump called on European nations on Feb. 16 to repatriate and prosecute hundreds of the ISIS terrorist group’s fighters who have been captured by the United States and its allies in Syria.

Trump warned that the terrorists may end up being released as U.S. forces exit from the region.

“The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany, and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial. The Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them, ” Trump wrote on Twitter.

“The U.S. does not want to watch as these ISIS fighters permeate Europe, which is where they are expected to go,” the president continued. “We do so much, and spend so much—Time for others to step up and do the job that they are so capable of doing. We are pulling back after 100% Caliphate victory!”

Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria upon the defeat of ISIS in the region. On Feb. 16, U.S.-backed forces were on the verge of capturing the last tiny enclave held by the terrorist group along the Euphrates River.

Jiya Furat, the commander of the U.S.-backed forces, said Feb. 16 that ISIS was pinned down in a neighborhood in Baghouz Village near the Iraqi border, and under fire from all sides.

“In the coming few days, in a very short time, we will spread the good tidings to the world of the military end of [ISIS],” Furat said.

The defeat marks the end of five years of ISIS-fueled terror and chaos. The so-called caliphate started in a mosque in Mosul, Iraq, where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took advantage of regional turmoil to declare himself the ruler, or caliph, of the Muslim people. At its peak, the caliphate ruled more than 2 million people.

Jiya Furat, commander of the assault on the last jihadi enclave in eastern Syria, during a press conference near Baghouz, Deir Al Zor Province, Syria Feb. 16, 2019. (Rodi Said/Reuters)

Thousands of people, including many citizens of European nations, traveled to Syria to join ISIS during the conflict; hundreds have been captured and are held in Kurdish-run prisons. Once the United States pulls out of the region, the Kurds may not have the resources to safeguard the prisons, prompting calls to return the prisoners to their respective nations.

Kurdish officials have said that the prisoners’ family members may exceed 4,000.

Bringing ISIS fighters back to their nations of origin is complicated. According to Shiraz Maher, director of The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, there are “real problems with the admissibility of battlefield evidence” in Western courts that may hamper prosecutions.

Fighters of the US-backed Kurdish-Arab coalition of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) take a rest during an operation to expel ISIS jihadi from their last bastion, in Baghouz in the eastern Syrian province of Deir Al Zor, on Feb. 16, 2019. (Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images)

“So, what happens then? These fighters are either repatriated and then freed; no one wants that. Or they’re tried on lesser charges with shorter tariffs and are out of jail in a relatively short period. Again, this is not ideal,” Maher wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, local authorities have to solve the question of where to house the prisoners. Placing them with the general population may radicalize other prisoners, while setting up special facilities may come at great expense.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Follow Ivan on Twitter: @ivanpentchoukov
RECOMMENDED
TOP VIDEOS