Back to Sender
Isis recruits - Published in the Whanganui Chronicle 7 March 2019
Regarding your article about Shamina Begum (February 20), there is now a call for those young people who joined and fought for Isis to be locked out from their home countries.
After the Anzac survivors of the trenches returned to their homelands after World War I, many admitted they went for a "bit of an adventure" or "foreign travel". Some also mentioned that they went because they felt coerced by social pressure and their compatriots' patriotic vitriol. Almost all were appalled by what they experienced.
During the Spanish Civil War, many foreigners joined up to fight for the Republican or Monarchist cause. Returning from both conflicts, many withdrew into solitude and some became anti-war advocates. Seumas McKee wrote about his experiences in I Was a Franco Soldier, admitting his folly for joining a fascist army all because it was Catholic. McKee was Irish. Others, like Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell, became great, opinion-changing writers.
It seems to me that, in the past decade, young men and women were also enticed to current military enterprises by clever posters or wilful and manipulative online propaganda. It is probable many Western young men and woman who left the comfort of their working or middle-class existence and spent time with their Islamic State hosts realised what a dummy they had been sold.
However, a lockout can have the opposite effect. By not allowing them reintegration, we may push them to further radicalisation, even if they decided their initial choice was stupid. Also, by removing their citizenship and passports, we make them other people's problem. If we allow them back, after facing possible criminal charges, they get a second chance, and may even teach others about their folly.
Of course, others who found an avenue for their bloodlust, may want to come home to die a martyr's death blowing up people. With those who want to do us harm at least, we know who they are and we can keep an eye on them.
Remember what a difference it may have made if Adolf Hitler had been allowed to enter Vienna's Academy of Fine Arts instead of being cited as "unfit for painting [pictures]" and thrown back on an unsuspecting and ill-prepared world.
CHRISTODOULOS MOISA Durie Hil