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Op-Ed: An odd "ISIS bride" is the snowflake on the tip of the iceberg.

Nigel Morris-Co...

The UK and the USA have decided to revoke the citizenship of two women who went to the middle east to join a terrorist organisation. These are headline grabbing moves and the media is happy to co-operate because they are women and young. But they are a tiny fraction of an enormous global problem.


While the world focuses on so-called returning ISIS brides, it's two weeks since US President Donald Trump told EU countries that they should repatriate those leaving the criminal gang masquerading as defenders of Islam. A former British Army General, Lord Dannatt, has been quoted as saying that he believes that the former fighters should be returned to their countries of origin to face their domestic justice system. In the meantime, some are running .. heading anywhere they think they can gain sanctuary. Within the past few hours, Germany has announced that it will revoke the citizenship of those who have taken German citizenship while retaining their previous citizenship - but it's a half-arsed attempt: it applies only to those who fight on after the new rules come into force. Given that more than 1,000 Germans went to fight, about a third have been killed and about a third are already back Germany, the policy begins to look like bandwagonning. Add in that it applies only to "adults," take out those were born with German citizenship, and the number affected collapses dramatically.

The difficulty that faces everyone is that no one knows what is truly in their minds: are they simply putting a publicly acceptable gloss on their deep rooted attitudes? Society at large, and that includes the vast majority of decent Muslims, do not want the poisonous attitudes, behaviour and ethos of the lunatic fringe anywhere near them, their families or their. children. In particular, almost all Muslims don't want them near their mosques. The position has hardened since early 2017 when a survey of youngMuslims showed that they considered returning fighters to be "soldiers" who should be "rehabilitated and re-integrated into society, as opposed to doing jail time." (https://www.bcu.ac.uk/research/stories/reintegrating-returning-isis-figh..." There is also a clear generation gap with the age group interviewed for the survey being the target age for Da'esh / ISIS - and criminal gangs of all kinds worldwide.

But the number of radicals claiming to be refugees from ISIS is a tiny part of the global problem: what do you do with former terrorists?

ISIS was brutal and on the edge of Europe and its global impact far exceeded its actual size, driven largely by its sophistication. As a result, it achieved notoriety that few terrorist groups manage. Look east, however, and there is a far bigger question. Some years ago, it was reported that one of the several terrorist groups in Mindanao, a problematic region of the southern Philippines, had some 40,000 men, mainly young, in only one of several camps.

How does any small population deal with the loss of tens of thousands of its young men? How does it deal with their sudden return?

This is the same region where, last year, a battle raged over the city of Marawi of which several parts have been flattened as government forces used air strikes to prevent an arm of ISIS creating what they call a caliphate in conjunction with local Islamists. Marawi was the first time that Da'esh / ISIS had acted as I had predicted - using its technical and technological knowledge, and social media savvy, to aid and influence other groups. Marawi was a target because it is a city with a long and honourable Muslim tradition in a country which is overwhelmingly Catholic: with a youthful, easily influenced yet surprisingly educated group willingly joining the forces of radical Islam. They were, in numbers, exactly the profile that Da'esh had been looking for around the world: instead of small numbers of people travelling to them, they were able to create a concentration of support and go there. It was a dangerous lesson that has not been sufficiently recognised by the wider anti-terrorism community.

 


 

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