Former diplomat says wives of ISIS members need to face justice

Former diplomat says wives of ISIS members need to face justice
Former diplomat says wives of ISIS members need to face justice

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - A former top diplomat has called for wives of ISIS terrorists to “face the full force of the law” after it was disclosed that funds raised in Europe were helping them escape Syrian detention camps.

New international laws should also be introduced to force financial, messaging and social media platforms to stop helping terrorists as “failure to do so will hand a significant victory to ISIS and extremist organisations,” said Sir Ivor Roberts.

The former head of counter-terrorism at Britain’s Foreign Office said reports of ISIS supporters across Europe using fund-raising apps to smuggle ISIS women and their children back home showed the terrorists “are not fading into history”.

He urged the British government to take firm action. “These women were either party to, or aware of, the atrocious acts committed by the caliphate and need to be held accountable,” he wrote in the Sunday Times.

Female supporters of the terrorist group have been receiving funds from sympathisers in Britain and other European countries to pay fixers and people smugglers to escape Syrian detention camps, it was reported last week.

Sir Ivor, a senior adviser at the Counter Extremism Project, insisted that the British authorities rapidly address the problem of overseas funding for ISIS but the priority should be bringing the women to justice.

“Leaving them to plot their escapes from the camps should not be an option,” he wrote. “If it means bringing those with UK citizenship back to the country for them to face the full force of the law, so be it. These women were either party to, or aware of, the atrocious acts committed by the caliphate and need to be held accountable.”

Sir Ivor, a former ambassador who also studied Arabic in Lebanon, has strongly criticised the UK’s current counter-terrorist policy which he said was demonstrably failing with women radicalised in Britain. Their presence in Syria demonstrated the “failures in national counterterrorism policy”.

“Bringing them back would not only remove their justification for demanding escape funds but also send a strong signal to terrorist groups that justice will be sought, even of those who have fled the country,” he wrote.

Terrorist sympathisers have raised money for wives of ISIS fighters using emotive appeals on social media platforms such as and Instagram and then transferring cash via legitimate financial outlets including Western Union, PayPal or Bitcoin.

Sir Ivor called on social media companies to tackle the problem because the apps “risk unwittingly supporting the wrong side in the war on terror”.

“It will be well worth investing time and resources in cleaning up international cash flows through routes such as money-transfer sites,” he added.

The encrypted messaging app Telegram, a favourite for terrorist communications, was singled out for particular criticism by the former diplomat.

“Once again social media, and Telegram in particular, are being used to help women to join ISIS and become ISIS brides. With its heavily encrypted messaging service, the use of Telegram by dozens of terrorists, and now by those willing to fund the escape of Isis brides back to western Europe, has remained in effect unchallenged for too long.”

He called for an international agreement and co-ordinated policy to allow access to its encryption keys and “targeted sanctions” against Telegram’s bosses if they refused to comply.

The clampdown would take “significant resources out of the hands of terrorists” he said and warned that the escape cash might also be used for terror attacks.

Updated: October 11, 2020 08:42 PM

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