British student who joined Daesh killed in SDF prison

Conditions in SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) prisons have deteriorated in the past year due to a variety of factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic. (AFP)
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Updated 12 July 2020

British student who joined Daesh killed in SDF prison

  • Circumstances of death remain unclear
  • Conditions in SDF prisons for former Daesh fighters and their families have deteriorated rapidly this year

LONDON: A student who left Britain to join Daesh in Syria has died while being held in a prison run by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

There is conflicting information about the cause of Ishek Mostefaoui’s death.

One source told the BBC that the 27-year-old, who grew up in east London, was shot while attempting to escape custody, while another claimed he died during riots in a Hassakeh jail, which holds Daesh prisoners from various countries.

The SDF, a US-backed Kurdish-led militia with a significant Arab contingent, has not confirmed the cause of his death.

Mostefaoui was one of around 10 British men and 30 British women being held by the SDF, but he was the first to die in custody.

The former Westminster University student secretly traveled to Syria in 2014 after telling his father that he was going to Amsterdam.

His UK citizenship was revoked in 2018. The UK government has said citizens who fought for Daesh should be put on trial in the region.

Of the estimated 900 people who left the UK for Syria to join violent extremist groups, 20 percent have died, 40 percent have returned to the UK and 40 percent remain in the region.

The SDF has urged foreign states such as the UK to take responsibility for their citizens, warning that Daesh prisoners were “a time bomb” earlier this year.

The group said: “We need to set up international courts, under UN jurisdiction, and try them in northeastern Syria where they perpetrated their crimes.”

The resource-starved militia is responsible for hosting thousands of former Daesh fighters and their families in prisons across northeastern Syria.

Conditions in the prisons have deteriorated significantly in the past year, and several riots have broken out.

In March, foreign fighters in Hassakeh prison, where Mostefaoui was held, staged a major mutiny and seized an entire floor of the prison while attempting to escape. The prisoners cited concerns over COVID-19 as justification for the rioting.


Trump wrote to Assad about journalist missing in Syria, says Pompeo

In this file photo taken on December 04, 2018, Marc and Debra Tice, the parents of US journalist Austin Tice (portrait L), who was abducted in Syria more than six years ago, speak at a press conference in Beirut. (AFP)
Updated 15 August 2020

Trump wrote to Assad about journalist missing in Syria, says Pompeo

  • In 2018, US authorities announced a $1 million reward for information that would lead to his recovery

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump personally wrote to his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad about the case of journalist Austin Tice, who has been missing since 2012, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday.
“The US government has repeatedly attempted to engage Syrian officials to seek Austin’s release,” Pompeo said in a statement on the eighth anniversary of Tice’s disappearance.
“President Trump wrote to Bashar Assad in March to propose direct dialogue.”
Tice was a freelance photojournalist working for Agence France-Presse, McClatchy News, The Washington Post, CBS and other news organizations when he disappeared after being detained at a checkpoint near Damascus on Aug. 14, 2012.
Thirty-one years old at the time he was captured, Tice appeared blindfolded in the custody of an unidentified group of armed men in a video a month later.
Since then, there has been no official information on whether he is alive or dead.
In March, Trump said the United States had written a letter to authorities in Damascus, without specifying that he himself had written personally to Assad, who Washington wants out of power. At that time, Trump said he did not know if Tice was still alive.

HIGHLIGHT

Tice was a freelance photojournalist working for Agence France-Presse, McClatchy News, The Washington Post, CBS and other news organizations when he disappeared after being detained at a checkpoint near Damascus on Aug. 14, 2012.

“No one should doubt the president’s commitment to bringing home all US citizens held hostage or wrongfully detained overseas,” Pompeo said Friday.
“Nowhere is that determination stronger than in Austin Tice’s case.”
Pompeo said he and Trump hoped there would be “no need for another statement like this a year from now.”
“Austin Tice’s release and return home are long, long overdue. We will do our utmost to achieve that goal,” he added.
A year ago, the US government said it believed Tice was still alive.
His mother Debra Tice said in January that she had “credible information” to that effect, without elaborating.
In 2018, US authorities announced a $1 million reward for information that would lead to his recovery.