Minister says Britons fighting with Daesh are ‘legitimate targets’

A file photo of Daesh fighters (AFP)
Updated 07 December 2017
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Minister says Britons fighting with Daesh are ‘legitimate targets’

LONDON: British nationals who left to fight for Daesh abroad should be “eliminated,” said newly appointed UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson.

The senior Cabinet minister suggested in an interview with the Daily Mail that armed forces were deliberately targeting British militants in Syria or Iraq.

“I do not believe that any terrorist, whether they come from this country or any other, should ever be allowed back into this country,” he said. “We should do everything we can do to destroy and eliminate that threat.”

Williamson said militants in Libya, Iraq and Syria were plotting attacks in the UK. It is believed that more than 800 UK citizens have gone to fight for Daesh, including teenagers, women and young families.

In response to Arab News, a spokesperson for the Defence Ministry said that British nationals who left to fight with Daesh have made themselves “a legitimate target” and should be “brought to justice, in the UK or within the region”

Other ministers also share the same view. In October, International Development Minister Rory Stewart also said “Their deaths (British Daesh fighters), like that of executioner Jihadi John, will protect the UK.”

However, Associate Professor of Criminology at Birmingham City University, Dr. Imran Awan, told Arab News that this is not the solution and instead would bread more extremists.

“It’s all about rehabilitation,” Awan said, explaining how the UK should follow Denmark’s program of rehabilitation, which has been successful in the past.

Denmark, with the second-highest number of foreign fighters per capita, decided on a policy of not penalizing citizens who have returned from abroad after engaging in militant or extremist activity. The program offers counselling and assistance instead of jail time.

Like other criminals, Awan says that suspected militants should have the right to a fair trail and be prosecuted within the British legal system.

“Anyone who commits a crime must be arrested and imprisoned, but there are programs that the government could follow to deradicalize these individuals and insure that they are no longer a threat to society,” he said.


US envoy in Russia skips key event

Jon Huntsman Jr. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 May 2018
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US envoy in Russia skips key event

  • Vekselberg predicted Washington and Moscow would get past their crisis in relations eventually
  • Russian denies any interference and the Trump White House denies collusion with Moscow

MOSCOW: US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr. stayed away from an event on Friday that would have required him to be in the same room as Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian metals tycoon subject to US sanctions.
Huntsman had initially been scheduled to be part of a panel discussion on US-Russian business ties as part of the St. Petersburg investment forum, a Kremlin-backed annual showcase for the Russian economy.
Vekselberg was on the panel of speakers at the session on Friday along with US and Russian business executives, but the ambassador was not there.
Asked why he was absent, the US Embassy in Moscow referred questions to the State Department in Washington. It did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment. Reuters
One of the panelists, Russian foods tycoon David Yakobashvili, said of Huntsman: “Unfortunately he is not here, but I am sure he is here in spirit.” Reuters