AP2013

Should Belgium repatriate its IS fighters?

France is looking at repatriating around one hundred IS jihadi fighters and their families to stand trial in Paris.  The French believe this could avert a terrorist outrage. Should Belgium too follow this route?

This is a question VRT News put to Joanie De Rijke, a Flemish journalist, who has just visited a prisoner camp in Syria.  The French fear that fighters held by Kurdish forces will be freed sooner or later.

Joanie De Rijke too is worried the Kurds are struggling to keep a lid on the situation and that the fighters may be freed: "What the French are doing is sensible.  The Kurds say that they cannot guarantee security.  It would be silly to leave the captured IS fighters there.  There are many very dangerous and radicalised fellows in gaol.  The Kurds say they will not be trying the fighters.  It’s up to us!"

There are concerns the departure of US forces will give the Turks a free hand to attack the Kurds.  If that happens IS fighters could escape and make their way back to Europe to commit atrocities.

Flemish interior minister Liesbeth Homans (N-VA), however, doesn't support bringing the fighters back to Belgium: "My party believes that these people took a conscious decision to go to Syria, to join IS.  Their Belgian nationality should be revoked automatically.  They should be tried out there.  If they return they could become ticking time-bombs.