Vlaams Belang on Thursday launched a campaign in Antwerp and on Facebook against the return of terrorist fighters to Belgium.
The aim of the campaign is to put pressure on the Government and press for measures such as striking former Syria combatants off the population registers and stripping them of Belgian nationality. Vlaams Belang also feels agreements need to be made with both Iraq and Bashar Al-Assad’s Government in Syria.
The campaign comes at a time when the issue of the return of foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) is becoming an increasingly hot potato for the Belgian authorities.
Thus far the Government has stuck to its position that the FTFs must be tried in the region where they operated, preferably by an international court. The establishment of such a court is in limbo. Collaboration with the countries concerned is complicated, if not impossible. Belgium no longer has any links with the Syrian regime and Iraq has made clear it will not try Syrian combatants. Moreover, serious doubts have been expressed by the Belgian judicial authorities about the guarantees for equitable trials in that country.
Since summer, the United States has been urging European countries to take back their nationals, many of whom are or were in camps run by Kurdish forces. The Turkish offensive in Syria against these forces has placed the spotlight on the appeal, especially since Ankara announced last week that it would expel jihadis detained in Turkey.
Thus far, four Belgians are concerned. One of them is the subject of an extradition request from the Office of the Federal Prosecutor in Belgium.
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders is participating in a meeting in Washington on Thursday of countries that have joined forces in the fight against ISIS, at which the fate of these jihadis will be discussed.