UK government 'secretly' planning to repatriate IS children, wives: report

UK government 'secretly' planning to repatriate IS children, wives: report
The UK government is reportedly planning to repatriate the wives and children of IS fighters currently held in Syria, against the advice of key government ministries.
2 min read
27 October, 2019
Boris Johnson has reportedly agreed to take back some of the children [Getty]
The United Kingdom is secretly planning to repatriate the wives and children of Islamic State group fighters, according to British media reports.

The move would represent a significant change in policy, which has until now been marked by stiff resistance in Downing Street to calls from Syrian authorities and Washington to take British IS families.

There are currently 60 British children and 30 women being held by Kurdish authorities in northern Syria, according to a report by Human Rights Watch released last week.

According to a UK minister who spoke to the Sunday Times, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already agreed to repatriate some of the minors.

"The PM made a decision and we will all work some way to sort it but it is very difficult given the security situation," the unnamed minister told the newspaper.

According to government sources who spoke to the Sunday Times, the mothers of children taken or born in the territories once held by the IS group could be put on trial for child abuse or neglect. This would allow the mothers to be prosecuted without the need for evidence that they engaged in militant activity.

Johnson and UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab have reportedly favoured bringing the families home against the advice of the ministry of defence and the Home Office.

In September, Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was "simply not willing to allow anybody who has been an active supporter or campaigner of ISIS in this country."

Earlier this year, the issue of Britain's IS families took the media spotlight when former London schoolgirl Shamima Begum spoke to media outlets in a bid to secure her return.

Former home secretary Sajid Javid revoked Begum's British citizenship in March, effectively rendering her stateless.

In August, similar action was taken against 23-year-old Jack Letts, better known as "Jihadi Jack" by the UK media.

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