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US urges Europe to repatriate, prosecute jihadist fighters from Syria


The United States called on European nations on Thursday to repatriate and put on trial their citizens who went to fight for the ISIS group in Syria.

The appeal, which has been made previously and fallen on deaf ears, came as the US Justice Department announced that a 23-year-old Texas man has been indicted in Dallas after traveling to Syria to join ISIS.

"We all have an obligation to keep them from ever returning to the battlefield," Ambassador Nathan Sales, the State Department coordinator for counterterrorism, said of captured ISIS fighters.

"The most effective way to do that is for countries of origin to take back their citizens and prosecute them for crimes they have committed," Sales told reporters.

"We would like to see more Western European countries follow suit," he said. "No one should expect the United States to solve that problem for them."

James Jeffrey, the US Special Representative for Syria, said the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were currently holding more than 10,000 jihadists including 8,000 from Iraq and Syria and 2,000 foreigners from more than 50 countries. Several hundred of them are Europeans.

There are also some 70,000 wives and children of jihadists including 10,000 who are associated with the 2,000 foreign fighters, Jeffrey said.

Washington has pressured allies to take back their own citizens who joined ISIS and place them on trial at home, but Britain, France and others have so far declined to do so.

Indicted in Dallas

The Justice Department said meanwhile that Omer Kuzu, a US citizen born in Dallas, was indicted by a federal jury in that city for conspiring to provide material support to ISIS.

Kuzu appeared before a judge for the first time on Thursday to face charges that could send him to prison for up to 20 years, the department said in a statement.

According to the Justice Department, Kuzu was detained by the SDF, recently turned over to agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and returned to Texas.

"The United States continues to demonstrate its commitment to holding accountable those who have left this country in order to join and support ISIS," assistant attorney general John Demers said.

"We hope countries around the world, including our European allies and partners, will likewise take responsibility for their own citizens who traveled to support ISIS," Demers said.

According to a criminal complaint unsealed on Thursday, Kuzu and his brother allegedly traveled to Istanbul in October 2014 to join ISIS.

Kuzu told agents that he ended up in Mosul, Iraq, where he received training from ISIS instructors. He then went back to Syria, where he was paid $125 a month to repair communications equipment for frontline ISIS fighters.

As Kurdish forces advanced in early 2019, he fled and was captured by the SDF.

Two weeks ago, the Justice Department announced charges against Kazakhstan-born Ruslan Maratovich Asainov, a naturalized American who prosecutors claim was an ISIS sniper.

Asainov, 43, fought for ISIS in Syria for five years before he was captured by the SDF and handed over to the US, the Justice Department said.

Several other US citizens have been repatriated, including women married to ISIS fighters, a man who taught English to ISIS followers, a former university student who became an informant for the US government shortly after joining the group, and a man who was captured before he participated in any combat.

Last Modified: Monday، 05 August 2019 07:03 PM