US repatriates, charges last American IS suspects captured in Syria

US repatriates, charges last American IS suspects captured in Syria
Four Americans captured in Syria have been repatriated to the US where they will face trial.
3 min read
01 October, 2020
The last of the alleged fighters were repatriated, according to the White House [Getty]

The United States repatriated and charged the final batch of Americans believed to have been detained in Syria as supporters of the Islamic State group, the Justice Department revealed.

Two thousand men from across the world, including four from the US, had been imprisoned in northern Syria.

The four Americans were caught by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)  detained along with fighters from other nations in facilities in the region for years.

"With this week’s repatriations, the United States has brought back every American supporter of ISIS known to be held by the Syrian Democratic Forces against whom we have charges," said John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, using an alternative acronym for the IS group.

"The Department of Justice has worked tirelessly over the years to prevent individuals from leaving America to fight for ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria and to investigate, repatriate and charge people who willingly left to support these organisations. This was our moral responsibility to the American people and to the people of the countries to which these terrorists traveled. The Department has also supported the efforts of other responsible nations to do the same, including by sharing evidence and know-how.

"We will continue to do so for any country that takes responsibility for their citizens who left to take up arms in support of ISIS’s reign of hate and intolerance."

Two of the men, Emraan and Jihad Ali, appeared in a federal court in Miami this week, where they were on trial. Jihad’s son Emraan had travelled to Syria in 2015 and received military and religious training from the US, according to government documents.

He and his father were accused of conspiring to provide material to support the militant group. They were captured in 2019.

Two more men, Abdelhamid Al-Madioum and Lirim Sylejmani, were also charged this month in federal courts with supporting IS since 2015, court documents said.

"This is a significant moment in what has been a yearslong effort to bring back the individuals who left the U.S. to fight with ISIS," Demers, told The New York Times.

"Each country should take responsibility for the people who left their countries."

The US repatriated 27 Americans from Syria and Iraq. Ten were criminally charged.

Western governments generally remain reluctant to repatriate suspected militants, ignoring calls from Kurdish authorities, who themselves must face the prospect of putting them on trial.

"The United States continues to lead by example by working with the Syrian Democratic Forces to repatriate American citizens accused of supporting ISIS and, where appropriate, prosecuting their alleged crimes in American courts," said Ambassador Nathan Sales, State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism.

"We call on other nations, particularly in Western Europe, to take responsibility for their citizens, and we thank the FBI and the Department of Justice for their continued commitment to keeping alleged terrorists off of the battlefield."

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