The US has repatriated and charged the last four Americans suspected of being Daesh members from northern Syria, the state Justice Department said in a statement yesterday.
The four US citizens were among an estimated 2,000 prisoners from dozens of countries imprisoned in northern Syria after their capture by the Kurdish-led US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces last year.
Prisoners have been kept in a political and legal limbo, uncertain if their home countries would take them back. However, both Barack Obama’s and Donald Trump’s administrations have chosen to repatriate and prosecute their citizens on home soil.
However, several other countries, including the UK, have stripped nationals who left the country to join Daesh of their citizenship and refused repatriation efforts.
Speaking after the US’ announcement, head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, John Demers, said he hoped the move, which “has been a yearslong effort”, would encourage other states to repatriate their citizens.
“Each country should take responsibility for the people who left their countries,” Demmer was quoted by the New York Times as saying.
All four repatriated Americans have been charged on their return with crimes relating to their involvement with Daesh and are set to face court in the US.
Two of the suspects, father and son, Emraan and Jihad Ali, who travelled to join Daesh in Syria in March 2015 already appeared in court in Miami yesterday.
The pair are accused of both providing and attempting and conspiring to provide material support to Daesh. Both are believed to have received religious and military training while working in the Islamic State in Syria.
The remaining suspects, Lirim Sylejmani and Abdelhamid Al-Madioum, were charged two weeks ago in federal courts in Washington and Minnesota respectively. Both are accused of having provided material support to Daesh since 2015.
Speaking after Sylejmani’s indictment was unsealed on 16 September, the Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, Jill Sanborn, said the announcement “should serve as a warning to those who have travelled, or attempted to travel, to join ISIS that the FBI remains steadfast in ensuring they face justice”.
The US has repatriated a total of 27 citizens from Iraq and Syria, charging ten of them with crimes relating to their membership of the militant organisation. The remaining 17 were not charged on their return because they are family members, or minors, related to the suspects.