Sputnik: What is your take on the proposal to continue the existence of Guantanamo and send Daesh (ISIS/ISIL)* terrorists to Gitmo?
David Otto: I think this sends a terrible message because Guantanamo Bay should not even be in existence. It has actually given very bad publicity to the United States' effort to counter jihadist terrorism. The experts, as you rightly said, that Barack Obama had promised to shut down Guantanamo Bay because of the existence of evidence of torture and detention indefinitely of suspects that some of them were never tried. I think bringing this idea of putting some of these suspects that have been captured by the Social Democratic Front of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) it just shows that the US has actually lost the clout and they actually failed to plan and now they are planning to fail. You know, in the sense that they don't really know what to do with most of those ISIS fighters who have been captured. The whole idea of Guantanamo Bay is completely going to backfire against the United States' efforts in countering the jihadist terrorism.
Sputnik: What about the option which was, you know, some human rights defenders are saying that it would be better if these individuals will be tried in US federal prison. What kind of benefits would that give? How would that improve the situation or the status of the United States in the eyes of those who recruit terrorists?
David Otto: The difficulty with that, you know, for you to try them you've got to be able to have enough evidence and that's one of the reasons why most countries are reluctant, I mean the other regions which we will discuss later on. Trying them in federal courts will still require that they are kept somewhere. And the biggest problem is there is likelihood that if they are tried in federal courts they could be given death sentences. For example, most terrorists would prefer a distant state. You know, and that is then some kind of a fulfillment to the extremist ideology. So, the whole idea of trying them in a federal court would still not be in line with the outcome of actually helping in getting these guys to cease from terrorism. So, I think the best option would be to get these foreign fighters to the various countries they are coming from.
READ MORE: US Senators Skeptical of Reported WH Plans to Send Daesh Militants to Guantanamo
Sputnik: How effective would that be though? Let's talks about some of the various countries they are coming from. Can you tell us about the courts there and the effectiveness of those courts and the capability of those courts to try those individuals?
David Otto: European states and even countries, for example, like Tunisia which has more than two hundred foreign fighters that have been held by the SDF. Now the problem is having the right resources to be able to prosecute these guys in these local courts. But also, after prosecution maybe you have to keep them. You know, one must remember that most of these fighters, some of them are very hard-core jihadists. And if you issue a sentence then to imprisonment, do you have enough resources to keep them? Do you have programs which have been set in place to disengage them, to de-radicalize them? How do you rehabilitate them and reintegrate them back into society? So, the resources are not there. And that is why a lot of countries that may have been willing to take up these foreign fighters that have been captured simply do not have the capacity to do it.
*Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State), is a terrorist group banned in Russia
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