Defence Secretary criticised over call to 'hunt down and kill' UK Islamic State fighters

By staff writers
December 7, 2017

The Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, has said that Britons who go abroad to fight for Islamic State (IS) should be hunted down and killed. He suggested that armed forces fighting IS in Iraq and Syria may now be targeting British jihadis.

He told the Daily Mail:“A dead terrorist can’t cause any harm to Britain. I do not believe that any terrorist, whether they come from this country or any other, should ever be allowed back into this country. We should do everything we can do to destroy and eliminate that threat.”

More than 800 UK citizens are thought to have gone to fight for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, including teenagers, women and young families.and the minister's remarks have met with criticism from former Director of Public Prosecutions, Ken McDonald, who described it as a "juvenile response". He told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme.“It’s not a serious grown up policy response for a senior government minister.”

Max Hill, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, also disagreed with the minister, saying that teenagers who joined IS "out of a sense of naivety" should be reintegrated into British society so as to avoid "losing a generation."

The Defence Secretary's remarks follow the reported drone-strike killing in Syria of a British IS member, Sally Jones, earlier this year and comments made by an international development minister, Rory Stewart, that " fighters could expect to be killed given the threat they posed to British security."

 Phillippe Sands QC, Professor of Laws and Director of the Centre on International Courts and Tribunals at University College London said a policy of targeting and killing British Isis fighters would be “inconsistent with English, European and international law, as well as with United Kingdom foreign and domestic policy for nearly a century since the end of the second world war”. He added: " We need a confirmation from No 10 Downing Street that the UK is committed to the totality of its legal obligations in domestic law and international law and it does not operate shoot-to-kill policy in relation to people who violate criminal law.”


Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.