Trump ’Handed Daesh Propaganda Victory’ With Syria Troop Withdrawal
US President Donald Trump “handed Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group] a propaganda victory” that could bolster its efforts to radicalize people in the UK when he announced the withdrawal of US troops from Syria, Britain’s counterterror police chief Neil Basu said.
Although the group’s online propaganda operation had been damaged by losses on the battlefield, it was still able to inspire followers to commit attack, Basu warned.
“The radicalization of vulnerable people, particularly lone actors and very suggestible, young, malleable or potentially mentally ill people, is still a great threat,” he told The Independent.
“You hand Isis a propaganda victory if you say ‘we’re going to withdraw’, which they took as a sign they were able to say ‘we’ve won’. That can’t be good for us [in Britain. I would hate for anybody to be complacent enough to think that threat has gone.”
Counterterror police in the UK are currently running a record 700 investigations, with 14 extremists and four far-right terror plots foiled since the Westminster attack in March 2017.
While the majority of plots have come from homegrown extremists, rather than returned foreign fighters, police are on the lookout for terrorists trying to re-enter the country.
According to a Home Office estimate, up to 300 British Daesh recruits could still be alive in Syria and Iraq.
Several are in the custody of the Syrian Democratic Forces and with the government seeking to strip British citizenship of all dual nationals who joined Daesh, Basu said there is no “legal pathway” to repatriate them for trial.
“We’ve only seen a trickle of people return – most of these people don’t want to come back here,” he added.
“I’m concerned that people will either get back without our knowledge, because that’s entirely possible, or that we will not have a case we can prosecute.”
Although Daesh has lost virtually all of its 2014 “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, militants are still battling in isolated pockets and are active in Egypt, Afghanistan and other countries.
“We have defeated Isis in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump presidency,” Trump tweeted in December.
Source: The Independent, Edited by website team