| Repatriating ISIS fighters is a thorny problem (Photo: Reuters)
Ankara said Europe is applying a double standard. On the one hand, it demands that Turkey bear responsibility for Syrian refugees, including ISIS detainees. On the other hand, some European countries have stripped them of their citizenship. Turkey says its land is not a hotel and it is doing everything it can to force ISIS prisoners to return to their home countries.
Europe’s reluctant reaction
Turkey might repatriate more than 1,200 ISIS-affiliated foreigners in custody and 287 other ISIS members arrested by the Turkish army in a recent operation in Syria. To date, only France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Ireland have agreed to take back their citizens.
Early this year, US President Donald Trump called on European countries to take responsibility for their jihadist citizens detained in Syria by bringing them back to their home countries to stand trial. This call was met with evasion. French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet said France hadn’t yet adopted a new policy on repatriating ISIS fighters although it had earlier agreed to repatriate their children on a case-by-case basis. Britain rejected the idea outright, saying militants must be tried in the place where they committed their crimes. Sweden shared Britain’s stance, while Austria complained about the difficulties. The European Union said it has made no decision on repatriating ISIS militants and the authority belongs to each member government.
UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierrez on Tuesday called for an international agreement on the fates of foreign jihadists detained in the Middle East. "We cannot just ask Iraq and Syria to solve the problem for everyone. There must be real international solidarity," he said.
European countries have been reluctant to accept ISIS prisoners or their relatives due to security concerns. Because Europe has seen multiple terror attacks and uncovered multiple terrorist plots, European leaders fear that once jihadists return home, they might be a threat to security.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FBS) warned that despite their heavy losses in Syria and Iraq, terrorist groups like ISIS, Al Qaeda, and their armed affiliates remain a primary threat to Europe.
In addition to 1,200 ISIS prisoners, Turkey is currently sheltering more than 3.6 million refugees.