This is what Britain should do with Isis detainees fleeing Turkey’s assault on Kurds in Syria

Britain must show those who supported Isis that justice will be served, while rehabilitating lower risk individuals

Fiyaz Mughal

By now it is clear that a phone call between president Donald Trump to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan suggesting that US special forces and observers were to be withdrawn from Northern Syria. This has led to Erdoğan calculating that Turkey could go in and dismantle the infrastructure of Kurds based in this part of the country.

Places like Rojava have been hit and the wave of Turkish soldiers and their allies, which now seems unstoppable. This wave has also disrupted areas where Islamic State prisoners have been held and reports make clear that many have fled as Syrian Kurdish forces have abandoned their positions or been overwhelmed by the force of the attack.

In all of this, the changing situation on the ground means that we must reassess our responsibilities to British Isis prisoners. It is also a fact that we have turned our backs on Kurdish allies. We devolved our responsibilities for our extremist citizens to the Kurds in Iraq and Syria and stepped back and left them to deal with people who, like it or not, emanated from our country.

It was an easy solution for us, but the Turkish attack has now brought the issue of British Isis sympathisers and collaborators to the forefront. We have to address this issue as a matter of urgency and it can’t wait any longer.

Which is why even though we cannot bring back people like Shamima Begum at this time, for the risk that people like her may pose, we must ascertain their level of risk, threat or not and through interviews, assess how deeply they were involved in supporting the institutional structures of Islamic State. We must therefore send out a team of investigators who can interview every one of our citizens who was associated with or who supported Islamic State. It is an essential piece of work that needs to take place now.

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