“If they are reformed, they might provide intelligence and aid in counter-terrorism and deradicalization”
Bryant Neal Viñas, a convert to Islam and an ISIS militant (born in Long Island, a son of a Peruvian and Argentinian immigrant to the US) was featured in a column for The New York Times. In it, he advised the American people to welcome former ISIS fighters back, and to let the criminal justice system work. He, himself, was jailed for 8 and a half years for ”conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals, providing material support to Al-Qaeda, and providing expert advice and assistance”. Some, he said, might, as he did, turn on their fellow jihadists and provide valuable information to the US, as he did, after being captured.
“The United States does not have any type of prison rehabilitation and re-entry program to prepare “formers” for life afterward with mental health services, vocational training or educational programs” lamented Viñas, “but maybe I, and the few others like me who have changed our lives, can be role models for these foreign fighters.” he added. Apparently, he did not think that the best role models might be those who didn’t join a terrorist organization in the first place.
The call comes after Shamima Begum, a Bangladeshi girl born in Britain that went to Syria as an ISIS bride, asked to return to Britain. Her citizenship was revoked on the 19th of February 2019. Her parents were both Bangladeshi citizens.
“I’d like to be an example of how someone can change. I want to help, encourage other young British people to think before they make life- changing decisions like this and not to make the same mistake as me. I can’t do that if I am sitting here in a camp. I can’t do that for you.”
Cooperation for intelligence can be obtained from captive fighters without having to promise them they will be welcomed with open arms. Should we offer US citizenship to those militants that don’t already have it, to ensure their cooperation? What remains is an offer that these “reformed fighters” might serve as an example to future militants, on what not to do. Yet, there is another way for them to be made into an example, and one that does not require their cooperation.
How did we come to a point where terrorists and terrorist supporters believe we need them? That we need them precisely in the war against terror? A westerner who joins ISIS is typically a person without meaningful purpose in life (as Viñas described himself before he joined ISIS), that is willing to join one of the most barbaric organizations presently in existence. In a way, they are similar to a typical school shooter. What could the greater society possibly gain from these losers? Except to use them to set an example.
Revoking a person’s citizenship is only allowed under international law if it does not leave the person stateless. That means citizenship can be revoked from a criminal that has either has dual citizenship or has the right to a citizenship of another country. And most people born of foreign parents do have the right to the citizenship of the countries their parents originated from! While the U.S. government can’t revoke the citizenship of most native criminals, there is no reason not to revoke it from those that are subject to such penalty. And not just for crimes involving terrorism, but for other crimes as well.
That’s one way to get denaturalization.