Germany offers conditions for repatriation of Daesh terrorists in Syria

Published 20.02.2019 11:21

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said foreign fighters for the Daesh terrorist group and their families will only be allowed to repatriate to Germany if their identities are proven beyond doubt and they constitute no security risk.

"In the interest of the security of our country, the German government must set out conditions for the return of former Daesh fighters who have German citizenship," Seehofer said in an interview with the daily newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung to be published on Wednesday.

Each case must be clarified on the ground in Syria "before anyone is placed on a plane," he said, including personal data and criminal charges in other countries.

U.S. President Donald Trump demanded on Saturday that European nations repatriate and prosecute more than 800 detained foreign fighters in Syria. The president said the United States, which plans to withdraw its troops from Syria, would otherwise be forced to release the fighters - though they are in PKK-linked Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing People's Protection Units (YPG) rather than U.S. custody.

EU leaders have pushed back against the demand. Detaining and prosecuting alleged Daesh members and fighters would be difficult without witnesses and evidence of crimes committed while engaged with the terrorist group.

Seehofer said he wants to prevent former Daesh fighters from appearing in Germany if they are suspected of carrying out serious offenses.

"We need to know, plain and simple, what the results of investigations in Germany are for each person," Seehofer said. "I would not want to take in dangerous persons if we cannot guarantee that we can, for example, detain them again here because they are wanted with an arrest warrant."

German authorities believe there are approximately 40 Daesh fighters detained by PYD/YPG in Syria who have German passports, dpa has learned.

The individuals in question are either dual citizens of Germany and another country or possess only German citizenship. Authorities currently lack specifics on personal data and residences, and the count of those holding German passports could rise.

According to dpa sources, German authorities have turned their focus to around 100 individuals connected to Daesh, including women and dozens of children. The identity of around 60 of the individuals is already relatively clear though not yet completely certain.

German arrest warrants have been issued for 18 of the 40 identified Daesh members who are being detained in the YPG-held areas.

Most of the information about the detained Islamic State members in Syria's Kurdish areas comes from Germany's intelligence agency, according to dpa sources.

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