France is preparing for the repatriation of 130 French jihadists held by Kurdish authorities in Syria. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that they are studying “all options” after the United States announced the withdrawal of its forces.
The Syrian Democratic Forces decided to hand them over to France but “they will immediately be handed over to justice,” the ministry said.
“These people have voluntarily joined a terrorist organization, which fights in the Middle East, and have committed attacks in France and continue to threaten us” a ministry spokesman added.
Like other European nations, France is struggling with the process of dealing with returning jihadists as opposition to the move escalates.
Even the mainstream conservative party, the Republicains, has rejected the repatriation and called for their “elimination”.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has categorized them the jihadists as enemies of the nation who should face justice either in Syria or Iraq.
Minister of the Interior, Christophe Castaner issued the following statement:
“The Americans are disengaging from Syria and there are people who are in prison and held because the Americans are there and they will be released. They will want to come back to France.”
Castaner assured everyone that the jihadists who return to France will be subjected to French law and their fate will be entrusted to judges. If deemed necessary, the jihadists will be put in prison. The minister confirmed that some of the jihadists had already arrived in France.
Castaner justified the decision by declaring that the returnees were “French before being jihadists”.
Understandably, his statement was badly received on social media.
National Rally (RN) MEP Nicolas Bay rebelled against the “irresponsible attitude” of Castaner.
The president of the group RN Burgundy Franche-Comté, Julien Odoul, said that “those who carried arms against France must be excluded of the national community”.
Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said they should no longer be regarded as French citizens, but as jihadists.
The returnees who are not covered by international arrest warrants will be handed over to the anti-terrorist police and put on trial. Those who are already wanted will immediately face a judge and subjected to pre-trial detention.
The return of the jihadists presents further proof of the Macron administration’s failure in dealing with the issues of terrorism and national security.