MOSCOW, November 3 (RIA Novosti), Ekaterina Blinova — The British government has softened its tone regarding former Islamic State terrorists returning home to the UK from the conflict zone.
"The UK will help jihadists returning from Iraq and Syria to recover if they have ‘good intentions’ about stopping others from joining the conflict," the Guardian reported, citing William Hague, the Conservative leader of the Commons.
The Conservative leader of the Commons has emphasized that some of the jihadi fighters would "just need help because they will have been through an extremely traumatic period."
It is worth mentioning that earlier, Downing Street was considering the idea of "banning Islamist fighters from coming back to Britain" and even depriving British jihadists of citizenship. However, the proposals were eventually dropped, since it turned out that it was illegal to "make people stateless," the Guardian notes.
During the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, William Hague said that the British authorities were ready to help those fighters who would not plan terror acts in the UK.
"The Home Office and the police and the NHS are also working together on what we can do to assist those people who do come back with good intentions. Of course, we will have to be sure that they do have good intentions," the politician said.
Mr. Hague noted that returning jihadists could be useful in warning would-be terrorist fighters against joining the Islamic State militants.
"We haven't had a lot of people coming back yet and saying they want to be of assistance, but if they do, of course the government, the police, and the National Health Service will work with those people and help them to recover and to assist others," he said.
The politician stressed that British authorities have already arrested over 200 suspected extremists this year, adding that the security of Britons is priority number one for the government of the UK. Experts estimate that about 500 British fighters have joined the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. On the other hand, there are lots of disillusioned insurgents which fear returning back home because of the prospect of arrest.
"Our top priority has to be the security of the people of this country and that is why we will take action. Where we think people could be dangerous, we confiscate passports. We’re working on additional powers to be introduced in parliament. There have been over 200 arrests this year related to people going to Iraq and Syria," William Hague underscored.
It should be noted that those British fighters, which try to escape the Islamic State, are being harshly persecuted by the ISIS leadership. Moazzam Begg, a former Guantánamo Bay prisoner, confirmed that dozens of British insurgents who were willing to leave the conflict zone were threatened with death by the jihadists. Begg emphasized that the British Muslims were currently "stuck between a rock and a hard place."
"There are a large number of people out there who want to come back. The number in January was around 30; that was the number given to me. That number has definitely increased since," he said, as quoted by the Guardian.
The former Guantánamo Bay detainee called upon the British government to grant amnesty to disillusioned insurgents and implement rehabilitation programs similar to those practiced by Denmark, that help former jihadi fighters return to a normal life.