British Islamic State fighters who have been captured, will be brought back to the UK to be put on trial, if it is the best place for them to face justice, the national security adviser has said.
Sir Mark Sedwill’s comments come after significant pressure from the U.S. on Britain and other European countries to take their citizens back.
Many are currently being held by Kurdish-led forces in detention camps. Mr Sedwill told an international security conference in Bahrain on Saturday, that it may be better for British IS fighters to face justice in the countries where they committed their crimes.
He told the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Manama Dialogue: ‘We want foreign fighters, who have been captured, dealt with through the criminal justice system but they have to be dealt with through the justice system in the most appropriate place possible.
‘So if we can bring them back to the UK and put them through our justice system and deal with them appropriately, we will. ‘If it is better done elsewhere, then we will work with allies to do that.
‘Of course, many of the crimes that these individuals have committed have been committed for example against our allies and partners in Iraq and it may well therefore be appropriate for them to be dealt with there. ‘But they will be dealt with and they will be dealt with in the most appropriate place possible.’
Sir Mark, who is also the Cabinet secretary, indicated more British children, whose parents were members of IS, could be repatriated after a group of orphans was brought back to the UK.
It was the first time that the Government had agreed to bring the families of suspected jihadists back to Britain. Sir Mark added: ‘If others find themselves in the same circumstances and it is possible to do so, then the same principle will apply.
‘But people should not underestimate the practical challenges and security challenges of doing that safely.’
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab last month told MPs that children rescued from the fighting in northern Syria could be allowed to return home as long as there was ‘no security threat’.
There are still as many as 60 British children that remain stranded in appalling conditions.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it would be extremely difficult to rescue all of the children, but said attempts would be made where possible.
Last month, the two suspected British IS terrorists dubbed The Beatles were taken from Syria into American custody.
Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, both in their 30s, were moved by US security services to an ‘undisclosed location’ amid fears they could escape custody as Turkish troops invaded the Syrian Kurdish-held region of north-eastern Syria.
Shamima Begum, the Bethnal Green schoolgirl who fled to Syria to join IS in 2015, was stripped of her British citizenship by then-home secretary Sajid Javid, prompting her to take legal action against the UK.
In August, Mr Javid also stripped 24-year-old Jihadi Jack Letts of his British citizenship. The convert was 18 when he left his Oxfordshire home to join IS in Syria in 2014. (Metro)