The Westerners who joined the ranks of the jihadists may be tried for the atrocities they have committed, but that does not make them traitors.

President Donald Trump has asked its Western allies to repatriate their jihadists imprisoned by the Syrian Democratic Forces and bring them to trial in their own countries. The United Kingdom has refused to do so, while France is dealing with their returns case by case.

By withdrawing from Syrian territory, the United States is admitting that the Syrian Democratic Forces are not a real army, but simply an auxiliary force under US supervision. They are also admitting that there is no Kurdish state in Syria, (« Rojava »), but that it was a fiction created for journalists. Consequently, « Kurdish Justice » was just another fable, and its capacity to apply its decisions will disappear within a few weeks. Islamist prisoners will either have to be freed or handed over to the Syrian Arab Republic, which will judge them according to statutes derived from French law. However, this state practises the death penalty, to which the European powers are now opposed.

In law, citizens of European countries who left to wage jihad in Syria have « collaborated with the enemy » and have also possibly committed the crime of « high treason » by working against European interests. But considering the actions of the Western states in this war, no Western jihadist will be found guilty of these charges in his own country.

The end of this war brings us back to reality. For eight years, the Europeans pretended to be surprised by their discovery of a popular « revolution » against an « Alawite dictatorship ». However, the actions taken by European states are today easy to expose and prove. They do not correspond at all to the narrative : the events that began in 2011 had been in preparation since 2003, and are still being organised today [1]. This war has lasted for so long that the lies on which it was based have been discovered.

If the European jihadists were to be judged for collaboration with the enemy, or even for high treason, the tribunal could not hold against them anything more than their atrocities against the Syrian people, and possibly the crimes committed in their own countries against their fellow citizens. Fanaticism is not a crime. The court would therefore conclude that only the Western leaders should be judged for high treason.

Before anything else, let us make clear that the objection according to which jihadist groups like al-Qaïda and Daesh can not be assimilated to recognised states does not hold water. Indeed, it is obvious that organisations which possess such military means could not exist without the support of states.

As an example, here is the way in which I would compose, in France, a plea for the defence of these fanatics:

Jihadists are not traitors, but soldiers

 1. The defendants only acted on a request from the French government to go and fight the Syrian Arab Republic and its President, Bachar el-Assad. The French authorities continually qualified the Syrian Arab Republic as an « Alawite dictatorship » and called for the assassination of President Bachar el-Assad.

Mr. Laurent Fabius, the current president of the Constitutional Council, declared, when he was the Minister for Foreign Affairs, « After having heard all the shocking witness accounts by people here present (...) when you hear that – and I am aware of the force of what I am saying - Mr. Bachar el-Assad does not deserve to be on this Earth » . This is a particularly powerful position to be taken by a country which has banned the death penalty.

In order to avoid any confusion, and so that we may properly understand - the call for murder was not only addressed to Syrians, but to all French citizens. The City of Paris, on the initiative of its Mayor, Mme. Anne Hidalgo, organised a day of solidarity with the Syrian opposition at the Eiffel Tower. A recruiting office was installed at the foot of the Tower, and the Press made sure that everyone knew it.

Of course, thereafter, this support became less visible, and as from 2016, in other words some five years after the start of the events, the French authorities took measures to effectively prevent departures to Syria. But at no moment did they contradict their previous declarations, so that the defendants could believe that France intended to conform to international engagements, but had not changed its position concerning the legitimacy of its action.

 2. All the defendants benefited from the indirect support of the French government during their jihad. All the jihadist groupuscules were financed and armed from overseas. The calls for tender by the Pentagon attest to the fact that it had set up permanent routes for importing arms to Syria [2]. Enquiries by the non-aligned Press have enabled us to establish, with proof, that several tens of thousands of tonnes of weaponry were illegally imported into Syria during the operation Timber Sycamore, first controlled by the CIA, then by the private investment fund KKR [3]. At least 17 states, including Germany and the United Kingdom, participated in this traffic. Incidentally, if it is not proved that France participated directly, it was also implicated in the allocation and distribution of these weapons, via LandCom (NATO Ground Forces Command) which it joined as part of the integrated command structure.

 3. The defendants who were members of groups affiliated with Al-Qaïda benefited from the direct aid of the French government. This is revealed by the letter handed by ambassador Bachar Safari to the Security Council, on 14 July 2014. Dated from 17 January of the same year, and signed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), it exposes the allocation of the munitions offered by France to the jihadists, and specifies that a third is attributed by Paris to the Free Syrian Army, and that the remaining two thirds must be delivered to al-Qaïda (known in Syria as the « al-Nusra Front »). And did not Monsieur Fabius say that « al-Nusra is doing a good job » [4] ?

Since the defendants obeyed the instructions of the French government, and had indirectly received weapons, and directly received ammunition from the French state, they can not be accused of collaboration with the enemy or high treason.

It is the European leaders who are traitors to their countries

On the contrary, the French leaders who publicly confirmed their respect for Human Rights while secretly supporting the jihadists should be called to answer by the tribunals. They would also be required to explain how the Syrian Arab Republic, which they described as « the enemy » of France, had caused any damage to French interests.

At the beginning of the conflict, it was common practice to recall that in 1981, during the Lebanese civil war, Syria had ordered the assassination of French ambassador Louis Delamare. However, leaving aside the fact that thirty years separate this event from the beginning of the war against Syria, it had already been sanctioned by a response attack against the National Office of Military Conscription in Damascus, which cause 175 deaths – responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Director of the DGSE at that time, Admiral Pierre Lacoste.

It was also said that the Syrian Arab Republic had damaged French interests by assassinating the ex-Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafic Hariri. France supported and continues to support a hybrid organisation known as the « Special Tribunal for Lebanon », tasked with judging Lebanese and Syrian Presidents Emile Lahoud and Bachar el-Assad. However, this organisation (which acts both as prosecutor and judiciary) has withdrawn these accusations after the witness testimony on which they were based had been proved to be false, and paid for by the prosecutors. No-one believes this lying accusation any more, apart from the employees of the organisation and their commanders, not even the children of the victims. Thus, Bahaa Hariri, the eldest son of Rafic Hariri, paid a friendly visit to President Bachar el-Assad last month.

In order to wage war on a friendly nation, Syria, the French leaders did not hesitate to support the jihadists. By doing so, they not only tarnished the international image of France, but also French interests – they put an end to fruitful anti-terrorist collaborations, and deliberately took sides with the terrorists. Some of their protégés came back to France and committed attacks on their own initiative.

These leaders should therefore be taken to court before the French Judicial system for complicity with terrorist organisations which have committed crimes in France, for collaboration with the enemy, and for high treason.

Pete Kimberley

[1See: “Before Our Very Eyes, Fake Wars and Big Lies: From 9/11 to Donald Trump”, Progressive Press, 2019. The book is available in other languages : French, Italian, Russian (out of print), Spanish, Turkish - and soon in Arab.

[2From Camp Darby US weapons for the war in Syria and Yemen”, by Manlio Dinucci, Translation Anoosha Boralessa, Il Manifesto (Italy) , Voltaire Network, 18 April 2017.

[3Billions of dollars’ worth of arms against Syria”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 18 July 2017.

[4Quoted in « Pression militaire et succès diplomatique pour les rebelles syriens », Isabelle Maudraud, Le Monde, 13 décembre 2012.