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Josie Ensor @Josiensor
, 13 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
UK’s allies in Syria have released European #ISIS suspects back to terror group through secret prisoner swap deals, the Telegraph can reveal, raising concerns that jihadists are returning to the battlefield and could re-enter Europe…
According to one of the negotiators, a tribal official, there were three deals between the SDF and ISIS in Feb, April and June (2)
Hundreds of ISIS suspects were exchanged for Kurdish prisoners. Among those were lots of Chechens and Moroccans but some French, German, Dutch and Belgians too (3)
In return, ISIS handed over an equal number of Kurdish prisoners caught during the battle for oil-rich Deir Ezzor and promised not to attack lucrative oil and gas fields under SDF control (4)
So sensitive were the deals that four of the 15 mediators involved were reported to have been assassinated shortly after, leading remaining intermediaries to pull out of future negotiations despite the $$$ at stake (5)
The deals raise serious concerns that “Beatles” Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh from London and other dangerous jihadists could also be released and fall off the radar of European security services (6)
Also, allegations the UK’s partners are forcibly sending children to battlefields raises *major* ethical questions (7)
A Western diplomat said there were concerns over SDF’s ability to hold 1000s of ISIS suspects (100s of which are foreigners) securely & worried the recent US decision to withdraw troops from #Syria would leave them with little incentive to continue doing so
Diplomat predicted that US would withdraw forces from coalition “within six months or so”, leaving their allies with a major headache as European countries are still refusing to take back their nationals (9) cc. @BrendaStoter
.@AmarAmarasingam: “Many of these prisoners could face death & torture upon return to Isil, or could re-enter the battlefield - both bad options from a moral perspective and a national security perspective. Choices we make will likely come back to bite us.”
.@Charles_Lister said: “The prospect of hundreds of non-Syrian jihadists roaming free in a post-ISIS conflict environment should send a shudder down any policymaker’s spine.”
Father of a Dutch ISIS widow currently held in Ain Issa camp by SDF said women were being sent back by bus and she was “terrified” of having to join them. He said Dutch gov was "too afraid of public opinion" to bring them home
The piece is not particularly passing judgement on the SDF, which has been left in an impossible position by coalition members. Europe's non-policy on the fate of its nationals abroad, however, is problematic
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