US Repatriates Last Suspected ISIS Supporters From Middle East, Calls on Allies to Follow Suit

US Repatriates Last Suspected ISIS Supporters From Middle East, Calls on Allies to Follow Suit
American soldiers patrol an oil well in Rumaylan in Syria's northeastern Hasakeh Province on Nov. 6, 2019. (Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images)
Tom Ozimek

The United States has repatriated and charged the last four Americans captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and accused of supporting the ISIS terror group.

“With this week’s repatriations, the United States has brought back every American supporter of ISIS known to be held by the Syrian Democratic Forces against whom we have charges,” said John C. Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, in an Oct. 1 statement.

All known Americans detained by SDF and suspected of being ISIS supporters have been brought back to the United States from Syria and Iraq to face charges.

On Sept. 30, Emraan Ali, 53, and his 19-year-old son Jihad Ali appeared in federal court in Florida, charged with providing material support to the terror group. According to court documents, the pair traveled to Syria in March 2015 to join ISIS. They both allegedly received military training and fought on behalf of the terrorist organization.

The two surrendered to SDF forces near Baghuz in March last year, where ISIS fought one of its final battles to maintain its stronghold in Syria.

“This announcement should serve as a warning to those who travel, or attempt to travel, to join and fight with ISIS. We remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent terrorism as well as hold terrorists, and those who provide support to terrorist organizations, accountable for their actions,” Demers said.

In announcing the last of the repatriations, the Justice Department called on other nations to repatriate and, where appropriate, prosecute citizens who traveled to the Middle East to join ISIS in its terror activities.

“We call on other nations, particularly in Western Europe, to take responsibility for their citizens, and we thank the FBI and the Department of Justice for their continued commitment to keeping alleged terrorists off of the battlefield,” said Ambassador Nathan Sales, the State Department coordinator for counterterrorism.

Two other repatriated American citizens, Abdelhamid Al-Madioum and Lirim Sylejmani, either made court appearances or faced indictment on Sept. 16. Al-Madioum, who appeared in court in Minnesota, has been charged with providing material support to ISIS. Sylejmani, against whom an indictment was unsealed in a court in the District of Columbia, faces charges of conspiring to provide and providing material support to the terror group.

There’s been much debate over what should be done with people who joined or otherwise supported ISIS since the terror group’s caliphate collapsed. The United States has long been pushing for allies to repatriate those who left to join the terrorist organization, but many countries, especially those in Western Europe, have been reluctant to do so.

The  SDF continues to hold about 2,000 foreigners affiliated with ISIS in makeshift prisons in northeastern Syria. Another estimated 10,000 foreign women and children remain in displaced-persons camps in the region.