British Isis fighters 'will be brought back to the UK to face justice'

23 November 2019, 19:48

British Isis fighters could be returned to the UK for prosecution
British Isis fighters could be returned to the UK for prosecution. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

British Isis fighters will be returned to the UK and prosecuted if it is the best place for them to face justice, the National Security Adviser confirmed.

Sir Mark Sedwill said he wanted to ensure that British Isis jihadists were "dealt with through the criminal justice system."

However, the diplomat - who has served as the UK National Security Adviser since 2017 - explained that British Isis jihadists could be better prosecuted in the countries where they committed their crimes.

Speaking at an international security conference in Bahrain on Saturday, he said: "We want foreign fighters, who have been captured, dealt with through the criminal justice system, but they have to be dealt with through the justice system in the most appropriate place possible.

"So if we can bring them back to the UK and put them through our justice system and deal with them appropriately, we will.

"If it is better done elsewhere, then we will work with allies to do that."

Some Isis jihadists will be tried in the countries where they commit their crimes
Some Isis jihadists will be tried in the countries where they commit their crimes. Picture: PA

Sir Mark explained that "many of the crimes" committed by the individuals were carried out against the UK's "allies and partners in Iraq" and so it may be more "appropriate for them to be dealt with there."

"But they will be dealt with and they will be dealt with in the most appropriate place possible," he added.

The diplomat, who is also the Cabinet secretary, suggested there could be more British children returned home after a group of orphans whose parents died in Syria were repatriated to the UK.

It was the first example of the government agreeing to bring the families of suspected Isis jihadists back to Britain.

Boris Johnson and Sir Mark have both suggested returning UK nationals from Syria
Boris Johnson and Sir Mark have both suggested returning UK nationals from Syria. Picture: PA

"If others find themselves in the same circumstances and it is possible to do so then the same principle will apply," Sir Mark said.

"But people should not underestimate the practical challenges and security challenges of doing that safely.

"The primary responsibility, of course, for the welfare of these children is the parents, who in effect abused and victimised them by taking them to a war zone and allowed them to be indoctrinated in the first place.

"But they are Brits and we have a responsibility to them."

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab last month told MPs that children rescued from the fighting in northern Syria could be returned to the UK so long as there was "no security threat" when doing so.

There are still as many as 60 British children that remain stranded in refugee camps.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it would be extremely difficult to rescue all of them, but said attempts would be made where possible.

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