ISIS jihadis executing civilians
One hundred and thirty-eight is the official number of Italian foreign fighters who fought in the name of Allah with the ISIS jihadis, survived and are now prisoners of the Kurdish SDF, Syrian Democratic Forces. According to Mr. Sajid Javid, the total number of European foreign fighters is estimated to be between 3900 and 4300. Other sources put the number around 6000. Most of them come from UK, France, Germany and Belgium and about 30% of them came back, uncontrolled, via the service of an extreme Islamic underground network.
The return of the defeated Islamist foreign fighters is a thorny problem: They are Islamic extreme jihadis, many of whom took part in, and are responsible for the horrible war crimes perpetrated by ISIS (beheading of prisoners, systematic rape of thousands of women, genocide of the Yazidi people, mass executions of civilians, use of civilians as human shields). Even more challenging is the problem of wives and children of jihadi foreign fighters. Most of the women were not involved in war operations, but many of them were informers and recruiters. Children under 12 years old are certainly innocent, but what of the boys between 12 and 18?
Subjects of British, French, German and Italian nationality as citizens of these countries have a right to live in them, but their participation in the ISIS war is an issue unforeseen by current laws.
The assumption is that they may have participated in criminal operations and they should be tried in a court of law, where evidence of their crimes must be brought forward, which is very difficult as it is impossible to prove their innocence.
Trump has recently stated that if the European countries will not take their Islamic fighters back, SDF will let them free, which means that most, if not all, will make it back unchecked. Thus, an official legal procedure must be approved and implemented.
As for now, no European country has been responding to Trump’s threat, but all the countries are studying the problem.
Mr. Mario Giro – Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Italian Government – has a challenging opinion (see his book Noi Terroristi) in favour of a controlled return and de-radicalization of the subjects.
The assumption of the deputy minister Mario Giro is that the radicalization of the subjects was also a consequence of Italian negligence in integrating them when they arrived in Italy. This responsibility must be acknowledged and dealt with. The idea of accepting in Italy subjects who may have been responsible for horrific crimes, has very little appeal for the Italian public, particularly in the cultural area of Mr. Salvini’s party. But Islamic fundamentalism and jihadist thinking are not popular even with more progressive areas of the Italian public.
Once back, arguably de-radicalized, it is not going to be easy to protect them from hostility. How can they be truly integrated having fought and killed in the name of Allah? How can they be trusted not to continue their personal jihad in Italy? How can they be monitored and controlled?
Italy has not yet issued laws or regulations to deal with the problem. The magistrates could apply article 270-bis of the Criminal Code that deals with terrorism and subversion but clearly the specific situation of the returning jihadis is different. Had Italy been allied with some of the countries fighting ISIS, or had Italy fought that war, the crime would be “treason”. Some of the interested countries are exploring that line of legal action.
A recent sentence has issued police control for foreign fighters who came back after fighting against ISIS with the Kurdish forces at Kobane. The motivation was odd, to say the least: The subjects are dangerous because they acquired the ability to use war weapons in military operations, a motivation that can be applied to all the Italian military personnel who have operated in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon.