Western nations should repatriate all the children of ISIS but not the parents who pose a threat and should pay for their crimes abroad.
News that the Canadian government has finally, after a long process, brought back five-year old Amira from a refugee camp in Syria is very good news indeed. She became an orphan when her parents, and her siblings, were killed in an airstrike. But these were not typical Canadian parents: they were ISIS terrorists who elected to leave our land and join a heinous terrorist group, taking their children with them.
The Trudeau government has called this decision an ‘exception’ not a change in policy. As the PM noted “We don’t have a plan to do that for others.” He is both correct and incorrect in that regard.
The government of Canada should make every effort to locate and rescue all the ‘Amiras’ currently languishing in Iraq and Syria. These children are living in truly horrendous conditions and their health and safety is at significant risk. They are victims – of their parents’ decision to join ISIS: they did not choose to do so. Canada indeed has a duty to help them.
Their mothers and fathers are a very different matter
They freely elected to leave our country and hook up with a group that raped little girls, drowned and burned people alive, threw others off buildings to their deaths and hung their victims on meathooks. Rarely in modern history have we seen depravity on this scale. Those Canadians did not appear to have any moral qualms in becoming part of this.
To those who say we have an obligation to repatriate these terrorists and charge them here in Canada I offer the following counter argument. Who are we to tell the Syrians, or the Iraqis, or the Kurds what to do with Canadians who may have committed horrific crimes against Syrian, Iraqi or Kurdish citizens? Do these states not have every right to try and punish these terrorists for crimes committed in their lands? How would we feel if a foreign government demanded that we hand over their citizens who were responsible for despicable acts in Canada?
Repatriating security threats implies that CSIS and the RCMP must expend precious resources to keep an eye on them and I would wager that both agencies already have their plates full of other equally high profile investigations.
The bottom line is that we have neither the obligation nor the need to repatriate these people. They pose an unknown terrorist threat upon their return and the call for just ‘charging them here’ ignores the significant challenge of gathering evidence in a war zone sufficient enough to gain convictions. Additionally, repatriating security threats implies that CSIS and the RCMP must expend precious resources to keep an eye on them and I would wager that both agencies already have their plates full of other equally high profile investigations.
I find it disingenuous that those clamouring to bring these terrorists home are not also going to bat for Canadian child molesters and drug dealers currently holed up in foreign custody. Why advocate for some and not others? After all, isn’t a “Canadian a Canadian a Canadian”?
If we are queasy about courts and prisons in Iraq and Syria we can offer consular assisrance to the Canadians and perhaps help the Kurds establish a solid judicial system. What we cannot do, however, is tell another state how to try and sentence those in its custody.
One last point. All children should be brought home and placed with extended family or become wards of the state, not just the orphans. Any parent who dragged a child to the so-called ISIS ‘Caliphate’ is by definition an unfit parent. Canada has an obligation to remove these children from danger: leaving them with their terrorist parents extends that situation.
I would imagine that the Trudeau government has no intention to move on this issue as it is a political no-win gamble. That is unfortunate, for the children, and only the children, should be brought home to safety ASAP.
Last point: I also made these points in my appearance on the CBC news program The Current on October 7. You can listen to it here (it is the first segment of the broadcast: I come in at the 15:07 but you should listen to the whole episode)