x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 14 December 2017

UK defence minister: Brits who joined Isil should be ‘eliminated’

Gavin Williamson said no one who travelled to Syria or Iraq to fight should be allowed to return to the country

Mohammed Emwazi, known as 'Jihadi John', was a British citizen who went to fight for Isil. AP
Mohammed Emwazi, known as 'Jihadi John', was a British citizen who went to fight for Isil. AP

The UK’s defence secretary Gavin Williamson has stated that any Britons who left to go and fight with Isil should not be allowed back into the country. In a pugnacious interview with the Daily Mail, he said that: “Quite simply, my view is a dead terrorist can’t cause any harm to Britain.’

“I do not believe that any terrorist, whether they come from this country or any other, should ever be allowed back into this country. We should do everything we can do to destroy and eliminate that threat,” said Mr Williamson, who has been in the position for just over a month.

There are an estimated 270 British passport holders still in Syria and Iraq fighting with Isil, and Mr Williamson’s comments signal that the government is continuing with plans revealed earlier this year to assassinate British targets through drone strikes and air attacks.

More than 800 UK citizens are believed to have travelled over the last few years to the region; half have returned to the country, and 130, including such high-profile figures as ‘Jihadi John’, have been killed.

Mr Williamson said that such people “hate everything that Britain stands for, hate our values, hate that Britain is as a beacon to the world of democracy and tolerance.”

His uncompromising stance rejects the argument being put forward that some of the young people who were brainwashed into going to join Isil could be allowed to return to the UK and be allowed to rejoin British society.

Britain’s terror watchdog, Max Hill QC, said in October that “‘We should be looking towards reintegration and moving away from any notion that we are going to lose a generation due to this travel.”

Mr Williamson went on to hail the work that British armed forces were doing around the world.

“Our forces are right across the globe degrading and destroying that threat, making sure that these people who want to bring destruction, death, bloodshed onto our streets aren’t able to come back,” he said.

“That is as important part of the jigsaw as what we actually do on the streets in Britain.

“Every day we have got British service personnel making a difference to make sure some of those people that want to cause that harm are never able to come back to this country. That is something I am incredibly proud of,” he added.