Stripping ISIS returnees of citizenship and/or refusal to take them back (with or without prosecution) is a horrible idea.

Such a policy aligns with ISIS strategic goals and propaganda.

Now let me explain why.

ISIS actively encourages sympathizers to sever ties to their respective nation-state of citizenship.

For that nation-state to similarly strip them of citizenship renders rehabilitation an impossibility, and institutionalizes ISIS’ zero-sum concept of political loyalty.
Nation-states like the US and the UK, moreover, have close to zero credibility in much of the “Middle East” because of unconscionable foreign policy, flagrant violations of civil liberties, and human rights abuses - especially in the “Global War on Terror.”
These same nation-states have proven MISERABLE failures when it comes to “countering ISIS propaganda.”

Part of that failure is due to perceptions of bankrupt credibility.

Such failure is also due to a lack of (and/or lack of interest in) understanding WHY people join ISIS.
For an emblematic example of such US “counternarrative” failure Vis-a-Vis ISIS, study up on the disastrous and embarrassing (albeit short-lived, thank GOD) “Think Again, Turn Away” :……

I wrote an article that savaged “Think Again, Turn Away” and the fight against ISIS for @meriponline but for some reason, it’s disappeared from the website. So, sorry! I tried.

Here’s this instead.
I did find a brief I wrote for the United Nations on countering ISIS propaganda that, unlike my @meriponline article, is still available online.

Skip to page 10, section 5 for my recommendations.…
Here are some excerpts from my UN brief on ISIS that demonstrate why allowing returnees back in the nation-state of their citizenship is precisely the BEST counternarrative the world can provide.

Excerpt 1:
Disillusioned returnees from ISIS land have far more credibility than nation-states in the anti-ISIS coalition (see above).

Stripping citizenship/refusing reentry destroys the best counternarrative source available AND further spreads ISIS’ ideology about citizenship loyalties.
It’s not enough for anti-ISIS coalition members to “myth-bust” (i.e., point out that ISIS propaganda is bullshit).

We simply lack all credibility, and the messenger’s perceived authenticity MATTERS.

That’s why ISIS propaganda has been so successful in the first place.
Here are some excerpts from my UN brief on ISIS that demonstrate why allowing returnees back in the nation-state of their citizenship is precisely the BEST counternarrative the world can provide.

Excerpt 2:
Excerpt 3:
Stripping citizenship / refusing reentry to disillusioned ISIS supporters does NOTHING to assist the world in understanding *why* ISIS proved compelling to would-be members.

ONLY those who wanted to join can help us understand.
Excerpt 4:
Another reason for ISIS propaganda successs is the interaction and engagement brand producers provide.

The anti-ISIS coalition, on the other hand, doesn’t engage - rather, we preach, bomb, drone strike, and jail.

That is not a sustainable strategy for long-term success.
Everyone Tweeting on #ShemimaBegum - please consider the above thread.

Returnees are the best asset counterterrorism strategists have for understanding - and defeating - ISIS.

Refusal of reentry / stripping citizenship is counterproductive and quite dangerous in the long run.
Preemptive note for the influx of crazy headed my way RE #ShemimaBegum, I have linked my policy briefs on ISIS propaganda for the United Nations above.

This is simply good strategy advice from a professional, not my personal apologism or moral relativism.
Another very critical thing for readers to note: ISIS may be evil, we can agree on that. However, the psychological manipulation of their propaganda is brilliant, and it works on YOU, too.

Knee-jerk support for stripping #ShemimaBegum citizenship is only one example among many.
Another preemptive caution for the lunatics headed my way, infuriated by this #ShemimaBegum thread: ISIS propaganda is my expertise.

Steve Sotloff and Jim Foley were my friends.

So don’t try me with “you don’t understand the threat.” I do - likely, much better than you.
I have papers to grade, so I will answer your angry rants about how I “don’t understand ISIS” later, when I have time, and if I feel like wasting my energy.
Final note - this is a very kind advance warning - if you crawl up in my @‘s accusing me of being an ISIS sympathizer, in the words of @iamcardib : I WILL dog walk you.

So don’t try me.
OK, so apparently I need to clarify. Nothing I said in this thread implies - or supports - amnesty / non-prosecution / a welcome parade / gift basket / free ponies.
Beyond discourses of "civilized" or not - the question of stripping citizenship / "abandoning" #ShamimaBegum is simply counterproductive policy in terms of countering ISIS. It's a horrible strategy doomed to failure.

See above thread for why.

.... I have personally lost loved ones to ISIS.

You're assuming an awful lot about me, and projecting very interesting things about my identity that may or may not -- spoiler -- be accurate.

This is not a call for non-prosecution. It's strategic.

Here is how I can tell you did not read a thread before popping up with fascinating and wildly inaccurate projections: badgering me about "those who have lost loved ones to ISIS" and incredibly off-base interpretations linked in no way to what I have said. Also: colonialism. Etc.
Reread both your Tweets.

Specifically, the part about my arguments reeking of colonial Western privilege and my need to "listen to the people who have suffered horribly and lost lives of their loved ones due to the acts of these 'returnees'" - so: all.

I'm not sure how of my friends need to have been decapitated for my informed assessment of defeating ISIS to count as more than 'colonial Western privilege.'

Because it's more than two. And it sucks quite a lot, just FYI.
This is a great thread on the complexity of cases like #ShamimaBegum - h/t @MiaMBloom for sharing:

One of the saddest things to me about a lot of the Crazy in my @'s from this thread: the complete and willful lack of awareness (and/or interest) about how such responses provide precisely the outcome for which ISIS propaganda strives.

I genuinely mean that. It's painful to me.
I very much understand how emotionally painful the topic of ISIS violence is.

From first-hand experience.
Want to know how propaganda functions, and when you can tell it is succeeding?

When your emotions override your capacity for logical reasoning.

ISIS is very, very good at this.
I'm going to close this thread on with a couple of important points.
As many of you know:

1) I never wanted to work on anything related to ISIS or terrorism.
2) I bailed on my friends' last Syria trip.
3) They were beheaded in viral ISIS videos.
4) Now, everyone uses their deaths for political purposes (even for commercial advertising).
5) I specialized - initially - in political aesthetics and visual culture across the Middle East and North Africa.

6) I realized how deeply ISIS' viral videos of my friends' decapitations impacted my psyche. Profoundly.
7) I thought "I am a professional in this field, so I am supposed to be more critical about this kind of material. I am reacting precisely as the propaganda producers intended - and I know better."

8) Speaking up became an ethical obligation and working on ISIS a moral duty.
9) Attempting to understand - and strategize counter-measures to eradicate ISIS - is not a lot of fun for me, personally. I think you can piece together why that might be.

10) I do not enjoy this material.

11) I am not a fan of, or apologist for, ISIS.
The fundamental point: when I discuss strategies related to ISIS - particularly countering their propaganda - I speak from deep, dark, personal experience. It takes immense resources to approach this material from a rational vs. a viscerally emotional place.

Not easy. Not fun.
I am not, in fact, talking out of my ass.

I am speaking from a position of very personal experiences, as well as considerably difficult emotional and analytical work attempting to understand and counter ISIS propaganda and strategy.

So, yeah. That's basically it.
That concludes my thread. I am rapidly losing my patience and diplomatic capacity with the keyboard warriors who can't read and prefer instead to yell at me about how I don't understand ISIS or the pain they cause.

Maintaining logic over emotion is key here.

I know my limits.
I am now muting this thread, because I prefer not to lose my temper.

That reaction generally serves as an indicator that emotions are superseding rationality, and productive exchange is no longer possible.

Also, I haven’t yet slept so irritability is increasingly hard to mask.
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