‘We HAVE to stop protecting UK's home-grown jihadis’ Fury over returning ISIS fighters
HOME-GROWN jihadis who take up arms in the name of Islamic State (ISIS) should be seen as “legitimate targets” and not given special treatment because they are British citizens, a leading conservative commentator has declared.
PA/TWITTER Melanie Phillips has argued British-born ISIS fighters are 'legitimate targets'
The Government should prioritise protecting the public over UK-born fighters, Melanie Phillips said, and if necessary use lethal force to ensure innocent civilians are kept safe.
Writing in The Times, Ms Phillips questioned whether allowing home-grown jihadis back to the UK after fighting for ISIS overseas made Britain “supremely civilised or suicidally stupid”.
It comes after security services revealed around 450 ISIS fighters are believed to have returned home to the UK after the collapse of the group’s self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
Newly-appointed Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson sparked a furious response from some of his House of Commons colleagues when he suggested all British citizens who fight for the group should be eliminated, saying: "A dead terrorist can't cause any harm to Britain."
But defending the Secretary of State’s remarks, Ms Phillips said the outrage expressed by MPs from both sides of the Commons was misplaced.
The former Guardian columnist stressed lethal force should only ever be used as a last resort, but argued sometimes there is no alternative if innocent people are to be protected.
She said “if people go off to fight with ISIS” they had chosen to “join the jihad against the west”, regardless of whether they happen to hold British passports.
Ms Phillips argues jihadis should be considered combatants, not terrorists, because by their own admission they are “engaged in holy war”.
PA Mr Williamson came under criticism after comments that UK-born ISIS figthers should be 'eliminated'
She said: “Holy war is not a figure of speech. It is a type of warfare.
"Jihadis don’t kill the innocent as a means to a political end. Killing the innocent is the political end.
"Terrorism is the method, but the aim of this holy war could not be more strategic.
“The jihadis aren’t killing western civilians because they want to force British or western governments to change their policies.
“They want to kill British and western people as ‘unbelievers’ and wipe out western civilisation all together.
The lethal use of force should always be a last resort. Sometimes, though, there’s no alternative if the innocent are to be protected.
“The Defence Secretary’s accusers are in danger of protecting the killers of the innocent instead.”
The study suggested some had become disillusioned with the group, while others were simply retreating from the fighting after US-backed forces recaptured ISIS strongholds in the Syrian capital of Raqqa.
Outlining his key findings, report author Richard Barrett said most of those who had returned had either already been arrested or had simply “disappeared from view”.