Western Terrorists Who Wanted Out Imprisoned by ISIS Commanders

September 14, 2014  

A group of European jihadist fighters, disenchanted with fighting for the Islamic State and who desired to return home, were imprisoned by their commanders several days ago. According to reports, the group’s weapons were confiscated and they were marched to a punishment center in the ISIS-controlled city of Raqqa, in Syria.

The group consisted of five Britons, three Frenchman, two Germans, and two Belgians. They had grown frustrated with spending time fighting other rebel forces instead of the government of Bashar al-Assad, the President of Syria. They worried that they were killing fellow Muslims, instead of who they believed to be the enemy. 

Indeed, ISIS’s focus has mostly been on creating an Islamic Caliphate stretching through areas in Iraq and Syria, rather than directly attacking Assad’s forces.

The five Britons delayed leaving on fear of being arrested upon their return to Britain. Security sources, though, insist that returning jihadist fighters should not bother to bargain with British authorities but rather, “drop their weapons and leave.” Haras Rafiq, of the counter-extremism think-tank Quilliam, added that because of the danger of exposing one’s identity, “Anyone who wants to leave, should just leave.”

ISIS was believed to have a welcome open door policy when it came to visiting Western fighters, but with recent US air attacks, commanders have become increasingly paranoid and suspicious of possible spies. 

This latest incident also demonstrates the danger for Western recruits who travel to fight in ISIS’s ranks, who in time may wish to defect. They are caught between facing cruel punishment and/or imprisonment from their ISIS commanders or the threat of arrest upon returning home. 

Rafiq has argued that authorities should arrest those who have committed crimes abroad but they should also consider the option of reintegration if any of such fighters are able to demonstrate a sincere change. 

According to figures, more than 500 Britons have traveled over to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State. Around half are believed to have returned, 40 of whom were arrested.

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