Europe must get together and close its borders to all returning jihadis

You don’t need to have driven over the five-mile Oresund crossing between Denmark and Sweden to understand its importance. Any fan of the Nordic noir TV crime series The Bridge will be aware of how it facilitates borderless movement between the two countries to such an extent that they are virtually indistinguishable. Police officers dash back and forth between Copenhagen and Malmo into each other’s jurisdictions without a by-your-leave. So, too, do the criminals.

All train, bus and ferry passengers are now required to show photo identification before being allowed across a border that has not existed in any real sense for many years. The Scandinavians have been operating their own mini-Schengen area since the 1950s. The migration crisis, and Sweden’s propensity to take in more refugees per head of population than any other EU country, has put an end to that.

Leave aside the braggadocio and bluster about the ability of such a motley army to stage an invasion; but his threat to “break borders” is all too real. Thousands of foreign nationals have gone to fight with Isil in Syria and Iraq and many have returned to their home countries. The perpetrators of the Paris massacre were Belgians and French jihadis who had travelled in and out of Europe with ease, not least because there are (or were) no internal borders. Even though these people claim allegiance to their caliphate they use their citizenship to re-enter and conspire against the country they have disavowed. Why do we let them?

Anyone who has gone to live in this self-styled caliphate should forfeit their nationality since they are so keen to adopt a new one. It should be advertised loud and clear in all Muslim communities that if radicalised young Islamists go to Syria they cannot come back. They might try to, and might even succeed if their identity is never discovered; but most will be known to the police or the intelligence services and their names placed on a watch-list. It is hard to understand the arguments against banishing these people. They laugh at the international laws that prevent statelessness and scorn the half-cocked measures we are forced to introduce as a result, such as terrorist “asbos” and temporary exclusions orders.

There is an argument that returning jihadis can be deployed to dissuade other would-be fighters joining Isil in the first place. But finding former fanatics prepared to be branded apostates by their peers is not easy. The Government has an anti-radicalisation programme called Channel to which hundreds of suspected radicals have been referred to try to stop them falling into Isil’s clutches. Yet the scheme has been criticised for stigmatising all Muslims and it is not clear how successful it is at intercepting returning jihadis.

Around 700 British Muslims have travelled to Syria . Fifty or so have been killed while about 350 are thought to have been allowed back into the country and a few dozen have been convicted of offences for supporting terrorism abroad or are being investigated. But most have not been charged even though adherence to Isil is supposedly a crime.

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