Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Returning Jihadists should be employed as “spokesman for their communities”.

with 7 comments

Our Beloved Comrades the Jihadists are out to Murder. 

“Rather than banning fighters from coming home, governments should consider employing them as spokespeople in their home communities.”

Hat-tip DM.

No this does not from the Guardian Comment is Free or from those see some elements of ‘progressive’ politics in the battle for the ‘Caliphate’.

It’s by “Josh Cohen …a former US State Department project officer. He currently works for a satellite technology company, contributes to a number of foreign policy-focused media outlets and tweets @jkc_in_dc. “

And it appears on Now.

It must rank, and it certainly ranks, as the most willfully vile suggestion that’s floating around.

Those most susceptible to recruitment into violent extremism frequently feel excluded by society.

We make a sharp distinction between attitudes and actions. All attitudes must be dissected and debated. This is the lifeblood of a democracy.”

One obvious question, then, is where the West’s Syrian jihadists — and would-be jihadists — land if prevented from returning home. Stateless and now rejected by their home countries, many will likely wind up in tertiary countries such as Yemen or Libya, where they are much more likely to come into contact with groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) or Ansar al-Shariah, and in turn potentially become part of a core of angry, “professional” jihadists dedicated to bringing destruction to Europe and the West.

Another important fact to consider is that many Westerners who have joined ISIS in Syria have become disillusioned with the organization upon discovering its brutality towards its fellow Muslims — not to mention the fact that jihad is not quite so glamorous when you are pulling washing duty and your iPod doesn’t work. One example of this phenomenon is the 30 British citizens with ISIS who have expressed a desire to return home but are stuck in limbo due to fears of long prison sentences when they arrive back in the UK. Rather than banning them from coming home, the UK government should consider employing them as spokespeople in their home communities as the perfect antidote to the tremendously effective social media recruitment campaigns with which ISIS targets young Western Muslims.

Finally, stripping returning jihadists of their citizenship may actually violate the UN Convention on Reducing Statelessness, as well as international human rights law. Referring to the UK’s revocation of citizenship, Dr. Christophe Paulussen, of the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism at the Hague, noted that “it becomes dangerous when measures are slowly eroding [international] law principles that we have cherished for so long and that we stand for.”

In Denmark, by contrast,

the municipality of Aarhus has implemented a unique program that focuses on inclusion rather than punishment.

And while implementing a de-radicalisation programme in the country,

…not all radicalization can be prevented, so Aarhus has also established a comprehensive reintegration and de-radicalization program for those returning from Syria. “The program’s core is that we have one entry point to help, but that help can have very different characteristics depending on the individual situation. It can be debriefing or psychological help; it may be in the form of a mentor, assistance with housing or something else. The program is rooted in the police, but includes many different disciplines,” Agerschou noted.

While some believe the Aarhus program is too soft, so far it is working. In 2013, 30 people travelled from Aarhus to Syria to participate in the conflict. As of August, however, only one person had been recorded travelling from Aarhus to Syria in 2014. Aarhus is also working with numerous returnees, most of whom are now engaged in work or education rather than the conflict in Syria. Word of Aarhus’ focus on rehabilitation and dialogue has spread in Syria, impelling many Danish Muslims — most of whom have also become disillusioned with jihad — to seek a way to return to Denmark and leave the jihadi life behind.

While there is no single anecdote for homegrown jihadism, Aarhus offers a model that Western governments would be wise to at least consider.

 In our view those fighting with the genociders of Da’esh (Isis) and Al Nusra (also guilty of persecution, torture and mass murder) and should be investigated for war crimes.

They should indeed be excluded from society.


Written by Andrew Coates

December 8, 2014 at 1:52 pm

7 Responses

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  1. But there really are returning ex-jihadists who are disillusioned by what they have seen. Would you really treat them the same way as hardened enthusiasts? I should imagine they could be the most effective counter-propagandists to the jihadists.

    stephen marks

    December 8, 2014 at 4:40 pm

  2. I said they should be first of all investigated.

    Even if they are disillusioned it is possible they have committed criminal acts.

    Andrew Coates

    December 8, 2014 at 5:08 pm

  3. “Another important fact to consider is that many Westerners who have joined ISIS in Syria have become disillusioned with the organization upon discovering its brutality towards its fellow Muslims…”

    This is rather telling. They have maybe understood the evil they were doing to fellow Muslims. No hint of understanding, let alone remorse towards the non-Muslims they have been so brutal towards. i.e. they are still conscienceless psychopathic religious supremacists.

    No applause, no cheers, no marks.

    These people would be appalling ‘representatives’ for Muslim communities in the west. It would be better for those communities and the rest of us that these monsters die in Syria or Iraq.


    December 9, 2014 at 4:10 pm

  4. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/british-vicar-of-baghdad-claims-isis-beheaded-four-children-for-refusing-to-convert-to-islam-9911072.html

    “Isis have beheaded four Christian children in Iraq for refusing to convert to Islam, a British vicar based in the country has claimed.

    Canon Andrew White, who is known as the ‘vicar of Baghdad’, told Orthodox Christian Network that the killings happened in a Christian enclave close to Baghdad which has been taken over by Isis (formerly known as Islamic State).

    He spoke of how Isis has “hounded” the Christians out of Iraq, and how “they killed in huge numbers, they chopped their children in half, they chopped their heads off, and they moved north and it was so terrible what happened”.”

    Still, that’s not a problem, because so long as ISIS members regret the harm they have done to Muslims, who gives a damn about Christians, Yazidis and others?

    Josh Cohen deserves to have the shit kicked out of him.


    December 9, 2014 at 4:21 pm

  5. They also do a very disagreeable line in self-pity.

    I wonder if there were many people clamouring after the war for an amnesty for those who’d joined the Einsatzgruppen and then become disillusioned.

    Andrew Coates

    December 9, 2014 at 5:01 pm

  6. Actually, I think Cohen is partly right. Peter Neumann at King’s in various recent press articles has been good at showing the three types of returnees: dangerous, damaged and disillusioned. Clearly anyone guilty of war crimes needs to be dealt with punitively. But many Western would-be jihadis (because they don’t speak Arabic, have no combat experience, and are generally useless) get given menial tasks such as sentry duty rather than fighting. Many wanted to sign up with other rebel groups, but their commanders transferred allegiance to ISIS or only ISIS (which has lower quality control in recruitment than other groups, because they see the propaganda value in Western fighters) would take them. They need to be treated on a case by case basis and, yes, some of them would make the best counter-recruiters. In my time as an anti-fascist, many of the most effective on our side had been drawn into the NF as teenagers and turned away from it; same applies here.


    December 11, 2014 at 1:46 pm

  7. They tried to get Michael Adebolajo on board as a ‘counter recruiter’. Remind us how that worked out, Bob.

    Spooks, ‘strategists’ and psychiatrists have quite enough blood on their hands as a result of their ‘clever’ games trying to reform Islamist psychos. What those people need isn’t hugs and therapy, it’s a bullet in the head. Every single one of the evil bastards.

    “Many wanted to sign up with other rebel groups, but their commanders transferred allegiance to ISIS or only ISIS (which has lower quality control in recruitment than other groups, because they see the propaganda value in Western fighters) would take them.”

    Of course. “I wanted to be a humanitarian aid worker, but I could only get a job as a torturer, rapist and murderer, so I did that instead. So it’s not my fault.” Needs a bit of work, I think.


    December 13, 2014 at 4:40 am

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