United Kingdom: Should ISIS brides be allowed home?
Britain has turned its back on its ISIS brides, said Michael Segalov in The Guardian. When Shamima Begum left the U.K. with two teenage school friends to join ISIS in 2015, we all pitied her. There was consensus that the 15-year-old “was an innocent child who’d been groomed online.” Now that Begum has turned up in a Syrian refugee camp, unrepentant but asking to come home to her family in east London, the narrative has changed. Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he was prepared to block the return of anyone who traveled abroad to join a terrorist group, and it appears that most Britons want him to do just that. Why are we being so callous? Begum, now 19, has been through an incredibly traumatic ordeal. As the wife of a Dutch jihadist 12 years her senior, she bore two children who died of malnutrition and disease and just days ago gave birth to a third in the camp. She’s a “brainwashed young woman,” and she needs our help.
“Begum deserves not a scintilla of sympathy,” said Leo McKinstry in The Daily Telegraph. She “eagerly and deliberately betrayed her country” to join a murderous terrorist cult. Begum hasn’t renounced them or their bloodthirsty ways—she said seeing the severed heads of ISIS victims in Raqqa “didn’t faze me at all,” and even claimed that the 2017 suicide bombing of a Manchester pop concert was justified because Western airstrikes sometimes kill women and children in Syria. And she is asking to return now only because she has no other option: ISIS’s self-declared caliphate has been destroyed. Unfortunately, “she has the right as a British citizen to be allowed back into the country,” said Lorraine Kelly in The Sun. Begum will be given deradicalization counseling of dubious use—and then she’ll get free health care, welfare, and subsidized housing, all at our expense. It’s highly unlikely she’ll face prison time. Of the 800 or so Brits who joined ISIS, about 400 have returned, and because it’s so hard to get reliable and admissible evidence of crimes that occurred in a war zone, only 40 of them have been prosecuted.
Our government has been appallingly slow to reckon with British ISIS members, said Mark Almond in The Daily Mail. Authorities have dragged their feet on repatriating them, recognizing that prosecuting or, failing that, monitoring returned extremists is a difficult and expensive job. But we may be out of time. There are some 800 European jihadists “languishing in captivity following their surrender” to U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters. U.S. President Donald Trump wants Britain, Germany, and France to take their nationals back, and he says if they won’t, he’ll just release them. “The Americans are right to demand action.” But we aren’t ready. Britain will just have to “suck it up,” said Melanie McDonagh in Spectator.co.uk. The situation in Syria is bad enough “without bequeathing that wretched country dangerous extremists from Britain.” They are our problem to deal with. ■