Middle East

Germany to strip ISIS fighters of citizenship

BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and their Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners have agreed to a plan to strip some Germans who fight for the Islamic State militant group of their citizenship, Germany’s Interior Ministry said on Monday.

More than 1,000 Germans have left their country for war zones in the Middle East since 2013 and the government has been debating how to deal with them as US-backed forces are poised to take the last patch of territory from the Islamic State in Syria.

About a third of those German fighters have returned to Germany, another third are believed to have died and the rest are believed to still be in Iraq and Syria, including some detained by Iraqi forces and US-backed fighters in Syria.

An Interior Ministry spokeswoman told a news conference that three criteria must be met to allow the government to denaturalize German citizens who take up arms for the Islamist group.

Such individuals must have a second citizenship and be adults. They would be stripped of their citizenship should they fight for Islamic State after the new rules come into effect.

The compromise ended a dispute over the issue between Germany’s conservative Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and SPD Justice Minister Katarina Barley.

US President Donald Trump last month urged Britain, France and Germany to take back more than 800 captured ISIS fighters and put them on trial.

Germany said it would take back fighters only if the suspects have consular access.

Britain last month revoked the citizenship of a teenager who had left London when she was aged 15 to join Islamic State in Syria.

The case of Shamima Begum highlighted the security, legal and ethical dilemmas facing European governments dealing with citizens who had sworn allegiance to a group determined to destroy the West.

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