The post-ISIS deradicalisation challenge

Over the past four years, Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has brought murder and mayhem across broad swathes of Syria and Iraq and the terrorist organisation tried to establish its so-called caliphate. Within the territories it once controlled, Daesh tried to impose its own strict and heretic version of extreme Islamist philosophy and theology, backed by the brutalisation of civilian populations and imposition of brutal and swift punishments to those who were noncompliant or opposed the group’s views.

Only an international effort and the loss of too many lives brought this menace to an end. But while the ‘caliphate’ may be gone, the issue now is what to do with the thousands of foreign terrorists and supporters who flocked to join the organisation and its territory?

European Union officials estimate that 5,000 from across the 28-member bloc had left to join Daesh, becoming important supporters of the terrorist setup. From Canada, some 200 nationals signed up, and every western nation has now to deal with those who managed to survive the brutal fighting to rid Syria and Iraq of the Daesh scourge.

Indeed, it’s estimated now that 1,200 former Daesh terrorists have now returned to Europe, and are presenting a difficult conundrum for nations such as France and the United Kingdom. Right now, the bulk of former terrorists are held in Iraq. It is a nation that can ill-afford to adequately deal with these numbers, and it is also unfair of foreign nations to expect the government in Baghdad to do so alone. Certainly, Iraq has more than enough of its own share of troubles to deal with.

While governments of western nations have reason to fear that the former Daesh terrorists and sympathisers pose a significant terror threat, they must somehow form cohesive policies to manage the deradicalisation of these individuals, and re-integrate them back into their societies. It is simply not acceptable to refuse re-entry and make these former Daesh supporters effectively stateless. Doing that will surely perpetuate and propagate support for a return of the ‘caliphate’.

Jailing the individuals is also not an option either. All those who believe that this is a solution need to look at the prison gulag in Guantanamo Bay to see how that has fared — particularly when jurists and civil rights groups rightly take up their cause. What is needed now is a holistic approach, one that effectively re-integrates them, deradicalises them, while monitoring their activities very closely. That is the best hope.

Source: Gulf News