BFF-74 Foreign fighters still joining IS in Syria: US general

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Foreign fighters still joining IS in Syria: US general

WASHINGTON, Oct 16, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Foreign fighters continue to flow
into Syria to join the Islamic State group despite its forces being largely
decimated, Pentagon Joint Chiefs chairman Joe Dunford said Tuesday.

Even though the jihadist group’s territory has shrunk to a fraction of what
it once was, new followers arrive, mostly over the Turkish border, at a rate
of about 100 a month, Dunford said.

While that is down from a peak of about 1,500 a month three years ago, it
shows that Islamic State’s ability to attract followers remains potent, he
said.

“It’s the flow of foreign fighters, the ability to move resources, and the
ideology that allows these groups to operate,” Dunford said, opening a
conference on countering violent extremism.

Dunford also said that the inflow adds to the mounting problem of how to
handle hundreds of captured foreign fighters whose home countries will not
take them back.

He said the Syrian Democratic Forces are holding more than 700 Islamic
State fighters from around 40 countries.

“The progress of returning these fighters home for prosecution has been
delayed by political considerations and inconsistent legal frameworks.”

Britain, for example, has refused to repatriate the two remaining men of
the IS unit dubbed the “Beatles,” which kidnapped, tortured and beheaded a
number of foreigners including journalists.

London stripped them of their citizenship and has said it does not want
them back.

The United States has repatriated one of its IS foreign fighters to stand
trial, but has not divulged the fate of any others thought to be held in
Syria or Iraq.

Dunford said not dealing with the captured foreign fighters correctly will
make it harder to eventually extinguish the attraction of the Islamic State
ideology.

A critical factor, he said, “is how we identify, prosecute, deradicalize
and reintegrate foreign fighters.”

“We need to find a way to address this challenge and prevent the detainees
from becoming the leaders of tomorrow’s extremist organizations,” Dunford
said.

BSS/AFP/MRI/2318 hrs