Fact Check: Why Won't Europe Take Its Jihadis Back?

Should Europe Take Former Citizens Back?

This week, the British media has taken a break from Brexit to focus on the story of 19-year-old Shamima Begum. Begum made the news four years ago when she and two friends ran away from school in London to join the murderous Islamic State. Now her friends are missing or dead, and Begum — heavily pregnant and abandoned by her jihadi lover — wants to go home.
The US is already calling on European countries to take back, and deal with, people like Begum. The UK doesn’t agree though. The government has refused to allow her back, and in fact, has just raised the stakes by stripping Begum of her citizenship. Why are our allies so reluctant to take in these wayward citizens?

  • Thousands of European citizens have traveled to Syria and Iraq over the last few years to join the Islamic State, the stunningly brutal fascist group that’s raped, robbed and murdered its way across the region. Now, as ISIS collapses, many of them want to go back home and the US government is urging their countries to take them back.
  • The American government is worried that unless these terrorists are repatriated, tried and jailed in their own countries, they’ll form the core of a new, dispersed and stateless terror network.
  • However, many Europeans are reluctant to go along with this. The problem is that it’s easy enough to let jihadis back into Europe but, thanks to the European Union’s insane rules on standards of evidence, it’s almost impossible to get them into a courtroom, never mind a prison.
  • The UK has allowed more than 400 British ISIS members back in already; only 40 have faced criminal charges. The others remain at large, posing a danger to the public and running up a huge bill for keeping them under surveillance.
  • At least 900 Brits are known to have joined ISIS, leaving around 500 unaccounted for. Hundreds have been killed, many in targeted strikes by UK forces, but many more, like Begum, want to return home now that their genocidal cause is collapsing. Most other European countries, especially France, Germany and Belgium, face similar problems.
  • While European governments understand the US position, they’re more worried about allowing thousands of jihadis to roam their streets planning new atrocities. From their point of view, it’s much easier to let their unwanted citizens rot away in the ruins of the disintegrating Caliphate. That’s a ruthless way to look at it, but to Europeans it makes sense.