European fighters returning home from Syria and Iraq may face prosecution

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European fighters returning home from Syria and Iraq may face prosecution

With thousands of European citizens fighting in Syria and now Iraq, some European Union countries have vowed to jail those who return and Belgium even plans to prosecute more than 40 alleged recruiters in September. CCTV’s Jack Barton has this report from Brussels.

European fighters returning home from Syria & Iraq may face prosecution

European fighters returning home from Syria & Iraq may face prosecution

With thousands of European citizens fighting in Syria and now Iraq, some European Union countries have vowed to jail those who return and Belgium even plans to prosecute more than 40 alleged recruiters in September. CCTV's Jack Barton has this report from Brussels.
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Belgium’s law courts will now be the first port of call for citizens who return after fighting in countries like Syria or Iraq. Forty-six members of a radical Belgian Islamist group – suspected of recruiting and sending young men and women to Syria – will also stand trial later this year. Counterterrorism officials estimate about 3,000 European nationals have fought or are still fighting in Syria, and now Iraq, and about 300 have already returned to Europe. Last month a French national who had fought in Syria killed four people at a Jewish museum in Brussels.

Claude Moniquet, Co-Director, European Strategic Intelligence and Security Centre (ESISC): “those who come back will really pose, for some of them a real security threat.”

While the president of the Belgian political party, Islam, disagrees. Bakkali Tahiri, President of Islam (a Belgian Islamic political party): “Above all the youth are ready to rehabilitate themselves ready to have normal lives, get married and have children, to live in peace in society, but we are not giving them any opportunities to do this, or live normally, because there is no political goodwill.” Bakkali Tahiri supports the crackdown on recruiters, but says more should be done lure the fighters back to Europe and that jail terms will be counterproductive. A sentiment echoed by mothers’ of the jihadis, like this woman who did not want to be identified. She has two sons in Syria, one of them only 16.

Mother of two sons fighting in Syria: “When I heard from them one time there seemed to be a willingness to come back home, but the next time on the other side where they are now they make them afraid of the possible consequences of coming back, such as going to jail and being deprived of liberty and things like that.” But Belgium shows no sign of softening its stance – and other EU countries, including Britain and France – are now promising, or have already introduced, crackdowns of their own. Jack Barton, CCTV Brussels.