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Killing British ISIS fighters the only option 'in almost every case,' UK minister says

  • Rory Stewart, an international development minister, said converts to the terror group should expect to be killed because of the "serious danger" they posed to British security
  • A U.K. government spokesperson said Stewart's comments were in line with Britain's stated position
  • Last week, the head of MI5 — Britain's usually secretive domestic intelligence service — said more than 130 Britons who traveled to Iraq and Syria to fight with ISIS had died
An Iraqi soldier holds an Islamic State flag during a battle with Islamic State militants, north of Mosul, Iraq.
Ari Jalal | Reuters
An Iraqi soldier holds an Islamic State flag during a battle with Islamic State militants, north of Mosul, Iraq.

The only way of dealing with British ISIS fighters in Syria "in almost every case" is to kill them, a British government minister told the BBC on Sunday.

Rory Stewart, an international development minister and former diplomat, said converts to the terror group should expect to be killed because of the "serious danger" they posed to British security.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live's Pienaar's Politics, Stewart appeared to echo comments made by Brett McGurk, a top U.S. envoy for the coalition fighting ISIS, who had said his mission was to make sure every foreign ISIS fighter in Syria died there.

"They are absolutely dedicated, as members of the Islamic State, towards the creation of a caliphate. They believe in an extremely hateful doctrine which involves killing themselves, killing others and trying to use violence and brutality to create an 8th Century, or 7th Century, state," Stewart said.

"So I'm afraid we have to be serious about the fact these people are a serious danger to us, and unfortunately, the only way of dealing with them will be, in almost every case, to kill them."

A U.K. government spokesperson said Stewart's comments were in line with Britain's stated position.

"Anyone who does travel to Syria, for whatever reason, is putting themselves in considerable danger — particularly if they are fighting for our enemies," he said via email.

'ISIS is a death-cult'

Stewart's comments come just days after the U.K.'s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, Max Hill, urged U.K. authorities to look at ways in which British converts to ISIS could be reintegrated back into society.

Hill told the BBC on Friday that Britons who joined ISIS out of naivety should be spared prosecution if they returned home.

On Monday, Stewart wrote on Twitter: "Clearly combatants should be treated in accordance with law. My point was simply that ISIS is a death-cult which usually fights to the death."

Last week, the head of MI5 – Britain's usually secretive domestic intelligence service – said more than 130 Britons who travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight with ISIS had died.

Read the BBC's full article here.