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Rudaw

Middle East

Caught in Syria, foreign jihadist suspects may face trial in Iraq

By AFP 10/2/2019
Jacques Le Brun, whose son Quentin joined the Islamic State (IS) group and has been caught by by Kurdish-led forces in Syria, holds up a copy of Paris Match featuring a picture of his son. Photo AFP
Jacques Le Brun, whose son Quentin joined the Islamic State (IS) group and has been caught by by Kurdish-led forces in Syria, holds up a copy of Paris Match featuring a picture of his son. Photo AFP

Their home countries don't want them and holding trials in Syria isn't an option: now suspected foreign jihadists could end up facing tough justice over the border in Iraq. 

Both countries have suffered for years at the hands of the Islamic State group and Iraqi courts have already meted out hefty sentences to hundreds of foreigners detained on its soil, often after lightning-quick trials.

As the final shred of the once-sprawling jihadist "caliphate" crumbles in eastern Syria, Kurdish-led forces backed by the US have captured hundreds more diehard foreign fighters. 

The American military -- which spearheads an international coalition fighting IS -- has in the past shown itself willing to hand those captured in Syria to the authorities in Iraq. 

In August AFP attended the Baghdad trial of 58-year-old French citizen Lahcene Gueboudj, who said he had been spirited from Syria to Iraq by US troops. 

Belkis Wille of Human Rights Watch said the organisation knows of at least five instances in which US forces handed foreign detainees over to Iraq's Counter Terrorism Service.

They include Australian and Lebanese citizens transported out of Kurdish-controlled areas, at least one of whom was eventually sentenced to death in Iraq. 

Iraqi justice can be harsh and its courts have doled out death or life sentences to hundreds of foreigners accused of being IS members, including some 100 women. 

Others who come from Syria can expect similar treatment.  

"They are at risk of torture and unfair trials in Iraq," Wille warned. 

- 'Secret deal' -

The fate of foreign fighters in Syria has come into sharper focus since President Donald Trump's announcement in December that the US will withdraw its troops from the war-torn country. 

Washington has stepped up pressure on its reluctant allies to bring home hundreds of jihadists, but the issue is politically sensitive in countries like Britain and France. 

Governments have been grappling for weeks with the question of foreign fighters detained by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, who have warned that they may not be able to guard their jails once US troops leave.

France, hit by repeated deadly IS attacks, has so far opposed returning jihadists. But since Trump's announcement, Paris has said it is studying "all options".

On a visit to Iraq this week, French Defence Minister Florence Parly warned of the need "to avoid some jihadists ending up in the wild and dispersing".

Hisham al-Hashimi, a researcher on jihadist movements, told AFP that a deal appears to have been struck with Iraq "at the very highest level and in secret" to tackle the issue.

Such a pact allows foreign fighters' countries of origin to avoid politically fraught repatriations; in exchange, Iraq will receive "ultra modern arms and crucial military equipment", Hashimi said. 

"Iraq can put anyone on trial who passed through its territory, even if they didn't fight there and just headed to Syria," he said.  

- 'Not settling problem' -

But while such a deal might solve a headache for politicians, it has raised serious concerns among relatives and representatives of those detained.

French lawyer Vincent Brengarth, who is handling the cases of some of those detained, questioned "how it could be justified that Iraqi courts would have jurisdiction" over crimes committed in Syria.

French officials say Kurdish forces in Syria are currently detaining some 60 adult French citizens.

Veronique Roy, a member of a group of around 70 French families with relatives who went to IS territory, said it would be "tragic" if captives were handed over to Baghdad.

Iraqi law means that anyone found guilty of joining a "terrorist group" can face the death penalty and its justice system has been accused of providing scant chance for a fair trial. 

A number of foreign fighters have already been sentenced to death in Iraq, although three French jihadists tried so far have been handed life terms that equate to 20 years in prison.

The families of those in Syria insist that their home countries should take responsibility. 

"We are pushing the problem back but not settling it," said Roy.

"France should not subcontract this out."

Comments

 
pre-Boomer Marine brat | 10/2/2019
I am American, and the justice system I live comfortably and happily within is based firmly upon that of the English - however - the ISIS "justice" system which burned Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath Al Kasasbeh to death was most certainly NOT ... Thsee parents have every right to grieve for their children, but those same children defecated upon the Geneva Convention and must face the consequences of their choices ... If Quentin Le Brun was proud to kill "in the name of God", then so be it. Stuff pig into his mouth before he dies.
David Shumock | 10/2/2019
And we are supposed to feel "sorry" for you? Your son made the decision to join Daesh, now he has to pay for it.
LongLiveYPG/YPJ | 11/2/2019
Your DAMN right this should not be subcontracted to Iraq. Why don't the Western countries who were so willing to do bombing, do some fucking legal work! Down with Daesh, but shouldn't the West try to bring these people to justice? Iraq is a way for them to stick their head in the sand like an ostrich.
ttoothage | 11/2/2019
Why should I feel sympathy for that idiot? This guy helped torture, rape and kill thousand of people.
Lemon_Kurd | 12/2/2019
Reap the seeds you've sown u inhuman beings, you want us to feel sorry for you now?? You left your countries to fulfil your lust for rape, murder and torture, and more, your beloved shit hole of a caliphate has been wiped out thankfully, and now reality has dawned on you and your families, the fantasy world of the caliphate has eroded along with your dreams of being something, your son is an inhuman c**t who deserves the same fate him and his inhuman comrades did to so many innocents. Let us be clear, if their caliphate was a success "GOD FORBID" these inhumans especially the so called foreign fighters who I refer to as "socially awkward, recluse, inhuman's", would be at the forefront screaming Allah hu Akbar, whilst they chop some poor mugs head off!! Fuck sympathy, go ask all the hundred of thousands that have suffered at your son and his friends hands for sympathy, see how far you get, fuck sending them back, they should of never been taken alive in the first place, fucking cowards, no sympathy no mercy, they created this now they pay for it!! BIJI KURD W KURDISTAN ! REDRAW THE MAPS!!
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