Assault on Idlib risks ‘scattering terrorists’ abroad: Paris

French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian delivers a speech at the annual French ambassadors' conference in Paris, France, August 29, 2018. (Reuters/File)
Updated 11 September 2018
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Assault on Idlib risks ‘scattering terrorists’ abroad: Paris

  • French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned Tuesday that a Syrian government offensive on the last rebel stronghold of Idlib could scatter thousands of terrorists

PARIS: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned Tuesday that a Syrian government offensive on the last rebel stronghold of Idlib could scatter thousands of foreign terrorists abroad, posing a security threat to the West.
“There are in all likelihood dozens of French fighters from both Al-Qaeda and Daesh” in Idlib, Le Drian told France’s BFMTV, warning that there were “also many terrorists from other nations who could scatter” in the event of a joint Syrian-Russian offensive, posing “risks for our security.
Le Drian said there was “still time to guard against this scenario” and expressed support for Turkey “in its efforts to keep the population safe, particularly the civilian population.”
France, the European country worst hit by a wave of attacks since 2015, has been on high alert for radicals returning home from areas in Iraq and Syria that have been recaptured from Daesh.
Le Drian estimated at “between 10,000 and 15,000” the number of terrorists left in Idlib.
“The attack being prepared by the Syrian regime with Russia’s backing is extremely dangerous,” he said.


US weighing options on American Daesh sympathizer in Syria

A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stands guard on top of a building on February 17, 2019, in the frontline Syrian village of Baghuz. (AFP)
Updated 20 February 2019
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US weighing options on American Daesh sympathizer in Syria

  • Neither option would likely pass muster in the cases of US citizens, who enjoy strong legal protections under the Constitution

WASHINGTON: The United States said Tuesday it wanted to ensure foreign terrorists remain off the battlefield as it weighed options on an American detained in Syria who says she wants to return home.
The United States has urged European powers to take back hundreds of their citizens who fought with the Daesh group in Syria, but acknowledged the situation was complex in the rare case of an American terrorist.
Hoda Muthana, a 24-year-old from Alabama who became a prominent online agitator for the extremists, said in an interview published Sunday with The Guardian that she had been brainwashed online and “deeply regrets” joining the movement.
While declining to discuss Muthana’s case specifically, State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said that the status of US citizens detained in Syria “is by definition extremely complicated.”
“We’re looking into these cases to better understand the details,” he told reporters.
Palladino said that the United States generally did not see a different solution between what to do with US fighters and with foreigners, saying the fighters pose “a global threat.”
“Repatriating these foreign terrorist fighters to their countries of origin, ensuring that they are prosecuted and detained — that’s the best solution, preventing them from returning to the battlefield,” he said.
The situation of foreign terrorists detained by US-allied Kurdish forces has taken a new urgency as President Donald Trump plans to withdraw US troops from Syria.
The Syrian Democratic Forces say they may have to refocus on fighting Turkey, which has vowed to crush Kurdish fighters it links to separatists at home.
Trump has contemplated reopening the US military base at Guantanamo Bay to take in new foreign inmates, while Britain on Tuesday revoked the citizenship of a female terrorsist who wanted to return home with her newborn baby.
Neither option would likely pass muster in the cases of US citizens, who enjoy strong legal protections under the Constitution.
Muthana, who was married three times to terrorists and has a son with one of her husbands, fled her family in 2014 to join the Daesh group in Syria, where she took to Twitter to urge attacks on fellow Americans.
In the interview with The Guardian, Muthana said that she was “really young and ignorant” when she joined Daesh and has since renounced radicalism.
“I believe that America gives second chances. I want to return and I’ll never come back to the Middle East,” she told the newspaper.
Hassan Shilby, a lawyer for Muthana, told ABC television’s “Good Morning America” that the young woman had been “brainwashed and manipulated” and is “absolutely disgusted” by the person she became.