Monday, February 05, 2018

Calls for Kurdish Justice in Disposing of ISIL Detainees

Suspected members of the Islamic State at a security screening center in Kirkuk, Iraq, in October. Unlike suspected militants seized in Iraq, fighters from more than 30 countries who were captured or surrendered in the Kurdish region of Syria fall into a legal gray area and face an uncertain long-term fate. Credit Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

"Clearly, we've seen what happens when you have a group of highly trained terrorist fighters held in detention for a long time [in the Iraq example]."
Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman, U.S.-led military coalition, Baghdad

"Those who were involved in bloodshed and fighting will be submitted to trial and will be punished, but those who joined Daesh and worked in civil sectors, like medicine, nursing and municipalities [are to be adjudicated by tribal mediation panels]."
Mostapha Bali, spokesman, Syrian Democratic Forces

"Some countries showed more interest than others in extraditing their citizens."
"European governments so far have been reluctant to reach out to us in order to extradite their citizens."
Nouri Mahmoud, Kurdish spokesman

"Verdicts come after court sessions and evidence presented."
"We don't torture or get confessions by force."
Khaled al-Ibrahim, lawyer representing terrorism court defendants
A Kurdish militia member interrogating a man suspected of being a member of the Islamic State in Raqqa, Syria, in October. Credit Afshin Ismaeli/SOPA Images
"Many of its [Islamic State] core leadership and cadre avoided the fight."
"They remain present and they remain coherent."
David M. Satterfield, U.S. acting top Middle East diplomat

These, the core leadership who dispatched their foot soldiers to scorch the terrain and slaughter its occupants in Iraq and Syria, remain at large and dedicated to take up where the combined forces of Western nations led by Kurdish fighters trained to conduct the actual battlefield action and armed for that purpose, left them off. There is a clear justice in that the sole ethnic tribal group that stood their ground to defect and defeat Islamic State have now gathered the terrorist flotsam and jetsam in their defeat to hold them until their courts of law analyze and prosecute them one by one.

Clearly, in the case of those who went to great pains to leave Europe and North America, motivated with the zeal of jihad to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a problem is presented to their countries of origin; whether to recognize their citizens for repatriation and bring them to their own courts of justice to stand trial for their crimes, or to leave them for a responsible and conscientious foreign nation of autonomous dignity to hold them to account for their crimes against humanity.

In the case of the Kurds, undertaking that responsibility on behalf of justice and humanity, theirs is a higher calling. In the case of the Western nations from which those thousands of violence-prone religious zealots emanated, it represents an instance of squeamish discomfort in dealing with citizens revealed to be violent monsters of religion-inspired bestiality. Many of whom should, in the due course of justice, be imprisoned for the rest of their natural lives; alternately otherwise dispatched to oblivion.

But questioning the legitimacy of the justice meted out by Kurdish courts is the coward's way of shifting their own responsibility, yet relying on others to dispatch the problem to its conclusion. Once Raqqa was relieved of the Islamic State's viciously oppressive presence, removing their ongoing threat to the region, hundreds of such Islamist fighters were taken into custody to stand trial. U.S. Special Operations troops are invested in interrogating many of the ISIL prisoners.

They are also advising the Syrian Democratic Forces led by Kurds on how to forge ahead cataloging fingerprints and associated biometrics of the hundreds of detainees held in camps close by Raqqa. A niggling apprehension over the collection of religio-fascists in close confinement echoes the situation in the minds of those involved in intelligence gathering of the post-Iraq invasion when former topflight Saddam military officers were held in confinement and further radicalized to become the core leader element of Islamic State under the influence of caliphate leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.

Over the past four years of the ISIL caliphate, over 40,000 Islamist fighters from over 120 countries travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight under the dreadful flag of Islamic State. Thousands may have been killed in their bloody campaigns, but according to Western officials, thousands survived to go on to join other conflicts in Libya, Yemen and the Philippines, or just went to ground, concealed for the present time.

Approximately one thousand remaining Islamic State fighters concealing their presence along the Euphrates River valley near the Syrian and Iraq border are being hunted by Kurdish-led ground forces with American warplane cover. Caliph Baghdadi is thought to be in hiding in those areas, awaiting the opportunity to reassert his caliphate and call his fervent jihadis back to active duty.

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