It is time the international community dealt with the uncomfortable consequences left behind from the migration of foreign fighters from all over the world to join the ISIS—children stranded in the post-Caliphate spaces need to go home. If we allow children of ISIS to remain in detention camps, then we only risk raising them as the next generation of ISIS fighters. Before it is too late, they need to be repatriated to their home countries.
And yet, there is much resistance to bringing ISIS children home. While countries including France, Germany, and Norway have repatriated the children of foreign fighters from Syria and Iraq, others remain reticent. In November, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel blocked a ready rescue operation to bring back more than sixty minors from Syria. Around the same time in the United States, a federal judge ruled that American-born Hoda Muthana who had joined ISIS was not an American citizen, effectively barring return to the United States to her and her two-year-old son.
Officials often cite security concerns to justify reservations about bringing ISIS children back. “These children have been raised with different values and norms than our children. We don’t have to be silly about that. They’ve seen the cruelest things in the world,” one Belgian official explained. However, leaving these children to their own fate in Syria and Iraq is not a way to more security. It is a way to ensure ISIS has hundreds of disenchanted and forgotten children to turn into its future fighters.