US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis calls on countries to repatriate captured foreign fighters

Photo showing Italian Minister of Defense Roberta Pinotti as she shakes hands with US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis ahead of an anti-Daesh meeting at in Rome, Feb 13, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 14 February 2018
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US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis calls on countries to repatriate captured foreign fighters

ROME: US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday that doing nothing with foreign fighters captured in Syria “was not an option” after a meeting of the US-led anti- Daesh coalition group in Rome.
During the fierce offensive to oust theDaesh from its former stronghold of Raqqa, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have captured “hundreds” of foreign militants, Mattis said.
The United States does not want the prisoners to remain in Syria where they fear the power vacuum could allow the fighters to escape and once again take up arms.
They say foreign fighters should be dealt with in their country of origin.
“The bottom line is, we don’t want (the foreign fighters) to go back on the streets of Ankara, (...) Tunis, Paris or Brussels, (...),” said Mattis following the meeting with 13 of his international counterparts in Rome.
“It is an international problem, it needs to be addressed by all engaged.”
Several countries do not want the militants to return home.
Two Britons said to have carried out numerous beheadings are among the detainees.
Alexanda Amon Kotey and El Shafee el-Sheikh — suspected members of a jihadist cell known “The Beatles” because of their British accents — are accused of abducting and decapitating around 20 hostages.
The victims included American journalist James Foley, who was beheaded in 2012.
“I don’t think they should ever set foot in this country again,” Britain’s Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson recently told the Sun daily newspaper.
The question of whether the detainees could be imprisoned at US military’s Guantanamo Bay prison was raised, but when asked directly for an answer Mattis declined to comment.
The US Secretary of Defense now travels to Brussels for the second-leg of his European visit dedicated to the anti-militants fight.


Malaysia says search for Flight MH370 to end next week

Updated 16 min 3 sec ago
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Malaysia says search for Flight MH370 to end next week

  • Flight MH370, carrying 239 people, disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014
  • Voice 370, a group representing the relatives of those aboard the flight, had called on the new government to review all matters related to MH370

KUALA LUMPUR: A private search by a US firm for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which went missing in 2014 in one of the world’s biggest aviation mysteries, will end on Tuesday, Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke said on Wednesday.
Flight MH370, carrying 239 people, disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014.
Malaysia had agreed in January to pay Houston-based Ocean Infinity up to $70 million if it found the plane during a 90-day search in the southern Indian Ocean.
The hunt for the Boeing 777 was previously expected to end in June, as the 90-day agreement did not cover time taken for refueling and resupplying search vessel Seabed Constructor.
However, Ocean Infinity had finished scouring its targeted search area in April and had requested an extension until May 29, Loke said.
“This morning I raised this (request) in cabinet and we agreed to extend to May 29,” he told reporters in Putrajaya, Malaysia’s administrative capital. Asked it that mean no further extensions, he said: “Yes.”
Newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had earlier said Malaysia would review and possibly end its agreement with Ocean Infinity, amid other moves to cut government spending.
Mahathir, 92, ousted the long-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, led by ex-premier and former protege Najib Razak, in a stunning election upset on May 9.
Loke, who was sworn in as minister on Monday, said the government would release a full report on the investigation into MH370’s disappearance after the offshore search was completed, but had not yet determined a date for the report’s release.
Voice 370, a group representing the relatives of those aboard the flight, had called on the new government to review all matters related to MH370, including “any possible falsification or elimination of records related to MH370 and its maintenance.”
“I’m not privy to whatever details that may not have been revealed, but as minister, I am committed to releasing all details to the public,” Loke said.
The decision to engage Ocean Infinity came after Australia, China and Malaysia ended a fruitless A$200 million ($159.38 million) search across a 120,000 square-km (46,332 square miles) area in the Indian Ocean last year, despite investigators calling for the target area to be extended 25,000 square kilometers (9653 square miles) north.
The Seabed Constructor has covered 86,000 square kilometers (33,205 square miles) so far but has yet to identify any significant findings, Ocean Infinity said in its weekly search update on May 15.