The Home Secretary has said captured Islamic State jihadists who were part of Jihadi John’s group in Syria could be brought to the UK to face justice.
The statement represents a softening of the government’s position, as Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson had previously ruled out their return because they had “turned their back on British ideas, British values”.
Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh were members of a cell nicknamed “The Beatles” due to their British accents and the fact they were born in the UK; however, they are believed to have been stripped of their citizenship.
The group of four Londoners beheaded numerous hostages and is thought to have been responsible for more than 20 deaths.
‘Jihadi John’ Mohammed Emwazi was killed in a drone strike, and Aine Davis was jailed in May 2017 in Turkey for seven and a half years for terrorism offences. But Kotey and Elsheikh were captured alive last month by the U.S.-backed Kurdish forces.
U.S. officials have insisted the remaining terrorists could not be taken to Guantanamo Bay.
Speaking from the Middle East on Tuesday, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she was “absolutely convinced and absolutely committed” to the idea of the terrorist combatants “facing justice” in a court.
When questioned on where, she did not rule out the UK, The Telegraph reports. “The important thing is that they have been arrested,” she added, continuing:
“And the important thing is, to us, that they will face trial. I can’t be drawn at the moment on where that will be, but I am absolutely convinced, and absolutely committed, to making sure that they will face trial, because the security of the United Kingdom will always come first.”
Hundreds of Islamic State ‘Foreign Fighters’ Have Returned to Europe https://t.co/OccudOk6s9
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 16, 2017
Minister of Justice and former Foreign Office Minister Rory Stewart took a rather different line last year, when he said the only way to deal with British Islamic State fighters in Syria is to kill them “in almost every case”.
“These are people who have essentially moved away from any kind of allegiance towards the British government,” he told BBC radio.
“They are absolutely dedicated, as members of the Islamic State, towards the creation of a caliphate, they believe in an extremely hateful doctrine which involves killing themselves, killing others and trying to use violence and brutality to create an eighth century, or seventh century, state.
“So I’m afraid we have to be serious about the fact these people are a serious danger to us, and unfortunately the only way of dealing with them will be, in almost every case, to kill them.”