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Berlin Sets Conditions for Return of ISIS Captives

Berlin Sets Conditions for Return of ISIS Captives

Wednesday, 20 February, 2019 - 12:00
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer before the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, June 27, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
Asharq Al-Awsat
Germany's top security official said Wednesday that suspected German members of ISIS and their families captured in Syria need to be screened before they can return home.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Berlin needs to know with certainty the identities of the militants and their families, and what they allegedly did, "before anyone gets put on a plane."

His comments in an interview Wednesday with daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung come after US President Donald Trump called on European allies to take back their citizens or risk them being turned loose.

Authorities believe Syrian Kurdish forces are holding about 50 German ISIS extremists and a similar number of family members. There are arrest warrants for only 18 of them, partly due to a lack of reliable evidence against them.

Seehofer’s statement echoed remarks made on Sunday by the German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, who said it would be "extremely difficult" to organize the repatriation of European nationals in Syria who had joined the terrorist group.

A return could only be possible if "we can guarantee that these people can be immediately sent here to appear in court and that they will be detained," Maas told ARD television.

For this, "we need judicial information, and this is not yet the case," he said. Under such conditions a repatriation would be "extremely difficult to achieve".

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