“To Bring ISIS Detainees Who Are In Rojava To Justice, Which Approach Is Best, An International Tribunal Or A Local Tribunal With International Supervision?”
Buyer – Exclusive
Prepared by: Ahmed Abu Alan About Arabic: Buyer
After the final defeat of the Islamic State Organization (ISIS) by Syrian Democratic Forces ( SDF) and the Global coalition against ISIS, and after the surrender and arrest of thousands of them and placing them in prisons of the Self-Administration of Northeastern Syria under the protection of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The international coalition forces focused to eliminate the presence of the Islamic State “ISIS” in their last remaining stronghold in Al-Baghouz village in the countryside of Deir Al-Zour. So the defeating ISIS’ file has become one of the most dangerous files in the Middle East and the world.
The vast majority of those thousands of detainees in the prisons of the Self-Administration of Northeastern-Syria are princes, security leaders and fighters of ISIS who were committed the most horrific massacres in the areas they occupied in Syria and Iraq.
(SDF) declared the “total elimination” of the so-called caliphate ” the Islamic State” in an official ceremony in Al-Omar oil field on March 23th, 2019, which was attended by senior leaders of the international coalition and about 200 international regional and local media.
Mazloum Abdi, the Commander-in-Chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), talked about the necessity of working to end the secret existence of ISIS organization, pointing to its ” sleeping cells.” Abdi noted the need to find a solution regarding the detainees of ISIS, and mentioned that it is more dangerous than the presence of ISIS on the ground. On March 25th, 2019, two days after declaring the final victory over the ISIS’ presence militarily, the Self-Administration of Northeastern Syria demanded the establishment of an international tribunal to try ISIS detainees
In this regard, we met Dr. Abdul-Karim Omar, the co-chair of the Foreign Relations Department in the Self-Administration of Northeastern Syria. *” A diplomatic department that works on the file of the diplomatic foreign relations with abroad,”.
“After eliminating the terrorist organization, we called on the international community to establish an international court to prosecute ISIS criminals who committed the most heinous crimes against the peoples of the region”. Dr. Omar told us.
The diplomatic leader, Abdul-Karim Omar, reveals that they have thousands of files and documents condemning the detainees of ISIS. They are ready to present them to the international community to prosecute them. “We asked the world, through a statement, to establish this court and provide assistance in establishing it legally and logistically as well.” Dr. Omar said.
International (Criminal) Court
“After the conflicts in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, and in the absence of a permanent international criminal court, the international community chose to establish two international criminal tribunals to prosecution individuals responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and act of genocide in these two cases. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was established in 1993, and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1994, to investigate and punish the perpetrators of the egregious crimes committed during those conflicts.
The UN Security Council set up both Tribunals through resolutions adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Such resolutions are binding on all States, and the Tribunals were established in this manner so as to impose their jurisdiction directly on all States. The other method would have been to adopt a treaty creating such a body, which would have required States’ consent and then ratification.
This is what Dr. Omar talked about holding dialogues with the international community and meetings with superpowers, including: the coalition countries led by the US and the Russian Federation. They responded to them on that file and their positions were positive. Dr. Omar also reveals the immediate position of some countries to establish the tribunal such as : Sweden, France, and the Netherlands.
Dr. Omar mentioned the extreme difficulty that the Self-Administration is facing regarding the establishment of the court. It needs a resolution by the Security Council, and this will not happen at all, because there will inevitably be a Russian and Chinese veto!
Establishing an international tribunal has become a general demand of all components in the Self-Administration regions.
The Turkish aggression against the areas of Self-Administration and occupation the cities of Ras Al-Ain (Seri Kaniye) and Tal Abyad (Geri Sipi) have posed a serious threat to the region. Thousands of reports and documents confirmed the relationship between the Turkish state and ISIS. The members of the so-called ” National Army” – that Turkey considers them ” a Syrian National Army” which it used them to fight the Kurds -, they are only ISIS members and leaders who fled to Turkey after the organization was eliminated in Al-Baghouz.” (SDF) has documented the names of about 180 ISIS leaders (by name and image) among the forces of the so-called “National Army” to occupy the Self-Administration areas. Some of them are from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Uyghur, Iraq, and other countries.
Those evidences confirmed the dangerous presence of those members in the ranks of the “National Army”. It left obsession and fear if they control the detention centers of ISIS detainees, who are in the thousands. This will help the organization to return to fighting in less than a month, according to many local and international reports.
The components of the region in general, including political parties opposed to Self-Administration, are concerned about the fate of the region in the event that Turkey controls both the region and the prison file.
Dawod Dawod, who is an official in the Assyrian Democratic Organization ( which is opposed to the Self-Administration and a member of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces where the latter adopts the so-called ” Syrian National Army” politically that occupied and is still seeking to occupy more of the Self-Administration areas ).
Mr. Dawod said that the detainees of ISIS committed the most horrific massacres against the peoples of the region and it is necessary that they be tried.
The Christian politician talked about the importance of the establishment of this court in the east of the Euphrates regions, as it will gain a political and media importance, and will be considered an important historical event if they are tried in the areas where they committed their crimes.
The demand of the Christian politician, Mr. Dawod, for the establishment the International Court is not to confer international legitimacy for the Self-Administration in Northeastern Syria, according to him. “Self-Administration means in one way or another a political authority, or a federal system, and it is part of Syria. So this issue is considered a sovereign issue for the Syrians and not for the international community.” He added.
The seriousness of the situation in the region, especially after the Turkish occupation, has affected the change of many positions, especially political ones. Previously, there were views of opposition and semi-opposition to the establishment of the court so that the Self-Administration does not confer a political legitimacy from the international community.
In this matter, we talked to Mr. Faris Othman, a leader and a member of the Central Committee of the ” Kurdish Progressive Democratic Party in Syria” – (* it is one of the large and important parties in Rojava. It was headed by the late Abdul Hamid Darwish (1930-2019) who was one of the most prominent political figures in the history of the Kurdish political movement). “The existence of such numbers of detainees of the terrorist organization ISIS are consider as time and dangerous bombs,” said Mr. Othman. He also called for the need to expedite their trial and deportation.!
From the viewpoint of Mr. Othman, the formation of the International Tribunal in the areas of Self-Administration and considering it a “political recognition” it is subject to the policies of the superpowers, and even if it is formed it will not constitute any “motivation” or ” benefit” for the Self-Administration, it will fall within the “political bazaar” For the countries controlling the Syrian situation.
The Kurdish leader, Faris Othman, appealed the international community to deport the suspects immediately and said that the presence of 90,000 terrorists in our regions represents the pillars of another potential terrorist state.
At the end of his speech on this matter, Othman commented that those types of courts take years to conduct the trials pointing to the international tribunal that was established regarding the file of the assassination of Rafic Hariri, the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, which was established in 2005 and has not ended to this day. Therefore , getting rid of ISIS detainees and deporting them is our request, because they issued fatwas to exterminate the Kurdish people, so the world must act.!
On the other hand, the Arab politician and academic Mr. Basman Al-Ali Al-Assaf, who comes from the Arab clan of “Tay” (a well-known Arab clan in the region), he said that this file is consider one of the most complicated files for several reasons, one reason is that the number of ISIS detainees exceeds 12,000, who are not ordinary detainees. They have committed crimes in Syria and Iraq that rise to the level of “war crimes”. So, this big number is a huge burden even for countries.
Mr. Al-Assaf, the academic, asserted that the best option is for the international community to shoulder its responsibilities towards this file. Each country must take its detained citizens and prosecute them. Without international support, it can never be achieved. According to Mr. Al-Assaf, the international community may not want to establish this court here, and the Self-Administration’s logistical capabilities are not enough. It controls prisons where contain 12,000 terrorists, and controlling those prisons with these limited capabilities is considered a great achievement for the Self-Administration. He also noticed that It is difficult to achieve this court because the region is unstable and now is witnessing military operations from the Turkish side.
“Without a legal instrument of the international community, the Self-Adminstration lacks many things legally,” Al-Assaf added. “ If we say that the administration can benefit from the ISIS detainees politically , then I absolutely don’t think it will happen. Because Turkey has already used such files and did nothing. It is better to deport them and extradite ISIS detainees to their countries.
Type of court and the laws that it will work on
Khaled Barjas Al-Ali, is a lawyer and a member of the Justice Council in the Self-Administration of Northeastern Syria, ( It is a council affiliated to the Justice Authority in the Self-Administration). From the formal legal standpoint of the Self- Administration, Al-Ali talked about their demand for the international community to establish a special international court for trying the members of the terrorist organization” ISIS” similar to the courts of Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Or to try them in the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Al-Ali added that if this is not possible, so they can establish a local tribunal with international supervision in Northeastern Syria. this should be relied on the local judiciary and by the international institution. Al-Ali revealed that many countries have welcomed the establishment of the court through the meetings that took place with them, but they do not show serious steps towards achieving it.
Mustafa Mashayekh, the Kurdish leader and the head of the Kurdish National Alliance in Syria,( which is a framework that includes 5 Kurdish parties, the majority of those parties are affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Council, the political umbrella of the SDF). Mashayekh talked about this matter that, this can be achieved from the legal and political sides. Legally, the court should be under the supervision of the Self-Administration, because the crime took place on this land, the criminals are here and the families of the victims are also people from this region. So, more justice will be done. Politically, according to Mr. Mashayekh, logistical support must be provided to the local administration and the international community has to deal with the existing of the Administration, because it has become a reality and must have the international legitimacy.
Laws that will prosecute ISIS members
The lawyer Fadel Mousa (an independent lawyer) talked about the appropriate laws to try ISIS members and considered that they should be tried according to the international laws or Syrian law. Mousa also referred to an important part which is the lack of the death penalty law in the Self-Administration legislations, where the majority of ISIS members crimes are certainly rise to the level of war crimes. The presence of thousands of ISIS fighters in the Administration’s prisons constitutes a huge burden in terms of securing prisons, medicine, clothing, food and drink, and this requires huge budget.
“From a legal and humanitarian point of view, they should get their fair punishment, which is the death penalty. So, It is not possible for the families of the victims to accept less than the death penalty”. Mousa added.
Mr. Fadel Mousa had another suggestion: the trial of ISIS members should be either according to the Syrian law (and must be the death penalty, so this problem will end for the Administration) or according to international law, provided that the sentences are executed in their countries. In this way, perhaps the international community together with the Self-Administration may find a way out to this serious problem.
Many official European delegations have visited the Self-Administration’s areas. Most of those delegations demanded the establishment of an international court, but the silence of the international community and the inability to issue a decision by the Security Council has become a serious concern for the Administration, the residents of the region and the families of the victims. Especially, the region is in danger due to the Turkish aggression and threats. A delegation from the European Union headed by a member of the European Parliament, Andreas SCHIEDER, has recently visited the Self-Administration areas. Schieder called during a press conference the need to find a mechanism to establish the international tribunal for trying ISIS members in the Self-Administration areas.
” International Tribunal ” or ” Tribunal of an International Character “
So far, the requirement to establish an international tribunal has not been fulfilled, but what about the presentation and discussion about a tribunal of an international character? It will not need a decision by the Security Council, and the countries concerned with the detainees can participate and provide logistical support. In this regard, Dr. Abdul-Karim Omar, the co-chair of the Foreign Relations Department of the Self-Administration of Northeastern Syria said that many countries, such as Sweden, France and the Netherlands, had a proposal to form a court of an “international character” in partnership with the Self-Administration, but we still demand the necessity of establishing an international tribunal in our regions.
There is another proposal that may be a way out of the completion of this complicated and dangerous file presented by the member of the Justice Council in the Self-Administration of Northeastern Syria,” lawyer Khaled Barjis Al-Ali”, who said: We propose to establish a joint court by the Self-Administration and the International Coalition Forces, which is the partner that fought ISIS for 5 years ago. It will be a ” court of an international character” since the majority of the countries that have agreed to establish this tribunal are part of the international coalition.
Mr. Barjas added, that if the coalition countries agreed to establish a court of an “international character”, then we in the Self-Administration are ready to start the trial of ISIS members, but within special conditions that will be imposed by the Self-Administration, including, Recognizing the laws of Self-Administration, providing logistical support at all levels and allocate a special budget for tens of thousands of detainees, because the Self-Administration cannot afford those costs.
?Where are the thousands of ISIS detainees, including princes and security forces
We visited the most important detention centers in the city of Hasaka, where more than 5,000 ISIS are located
The prison is under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces SDF. Rubar, the prison official, talked to us that they established this prison 6 months ago. There are 5,000 thousand captive fighters of 28 nationalities in this prison. They are the remnants of the Battle of Al-Baghuz. There is not a single civilian among them. We arranged many things to start the process of investigating all the detainees, but the Turkish attack and aggression confused the situation that led to many rebellion cases in the prison.
” we had many programs and projects regarding the detainees before the Turkish aggression against the areas of Self-Administration. But we stopped all our programs in the prison and sent a lot of our equipment and fighters to the fronts to defend our areas.” Robar continued his speech.
Robar, in charge of the prison, covers his face even in his office, certainly this is due to the utmost security necessities. He heads the administration of the most dangerous prison in the world. “It is necessary to resolve this file and establish an international court to try them. There are many cases of rebellion. There are patients among the detainees are infected with diseases such as (cancer, hepatitis, tuberculosis and AIDS). We are unable to provide treatment for them. There have been natural deaths and they have been buried in a secret and private place, until the establishment of a special court and submit all the documents related to them to the court.
?Who are the ISIS detainees? what do they think of establishing their own international tribunal
5,000 “ISIS” fighters are in the prison, who are from (28) nationalities. Most of them are the remains of Al-Baghuz battle. That means they fought to the last minute within the organization of ISIS. We conducted some interviews with the detainees and asked about their views on their fate.
Abuo Muhammad Al-Amriki (a nickname), who holds American citizenship from New York City. He holds a degree in mechanical and energy engineering from America. ” I think my charge, according to American intelligence, is crossing the Turkish lands and going to Syria and join the Islamic State “ISIS”. Abou Muhammad said.
The American engineer is concerned about his fate. He does not know when he will be tried and where he will go. He is calling his country to find a solution and form a court to appear before it and talk about his stay with ISIS in Syria and Iraq. “Previously, the United States of America received its citizens who were in the ranks of Al Qaeda in Chechnya and Afghanistan and put them in the famous prison“ Guantanamo ”. They were tried in public, here the matter is different. My country did not care about my case. They can take me to Guantanamo or any other prison. America only sells us illusions and sayings. I call my country to take care of my family’s destiny and mine because I am dreaming to return to my normal life.” Abu Muhammad said.
Abdullah Noman is another detainee, who holds the Belgian citizenship, entered Syria as a fighter with Al-Nusra Front on Aleppo fronts.
The Belgian Noman has confessed to carrying out bombing and killing operations in Belgium, so, he is wanted by the Belgian authorities. He said in this regard that he is thinking about his fate here, and he has always thought about his mother in Belgium. He expressed his remorse of what his conditions have ended, he hoped to be tried in any way and said: ” I want my country to have compassion for my situation. Belgium is a democratic country, and I want to be tried and paid for my mistake. “
Muhammad from of Germany used to work in ISIS publications section. ” just as I did not believe in some principles in my country, Germany, nor did I believe in many of the ideas of ISIS after I came here, but now I think about my destiny, we must be tried. I have been detained for 10 months. I know that I will pay a heavy price of my life if I am tried, but I agree to that because I made a mistake”. Said Muhammad.
Mustafa Shaddad Mouhammad “known as ( Al-Rafia)” is another detainee and holds Spanish citizenship. He said that he came to Syria to search for his brother who had come to join Al-Nusra Front. His brother was killed in the desert of Palmyra. Then he only found himself as a member of the Islamic State IS. Mustafa ( the Spanish) had been arrested and sentenced to 5 years in prison in Spain for drug trafficking.
“Everyone knows me by this name because I was working on the huge cranes of ISIS organization. My job was to transfer the spoils to the city of Raqqa”. Abou Salama Al-Rafia” said. (* Rafia= crane)
He wanted from his country “Spain” to take him back and try him, or establishing an international court to try him. “We have sinned! The International Court has modern laws and concerned with human rights. I will accept the judgment of any judge in the court. “ My psychological state is very bad. I don’t understand much. I think I will lose my mind here.” Al-Rafia ended his speech.
?What is the opinion of the families of the victims of ISIS’ crimes
We talked to martyr Baran’s mother who dedicated the blood of her son to the Kurdish people and all the peoples and components of the region. “Baran fought the terrorist organizations for a period of 7 years. He joined all the battles to defend his land, his people and the humanity”. She said.
She spoke proudly of her son’s martyrdom who defeated terrorism and eliminated ISIS with his comrades. she blamed the international community by saying: “We have given thousands of our sons and daughters on the altar of freedom. we fought on behalf of the whole world. Why is this silence from the international community? Why don’t they punish those criminals? Our lives will not rest until the establishment of an international tribunal in Rojava and on our land to punish those killers and terrorists, Otherwise, we will not be satisfied. I am speaking on behalf of the families of 11,000 martyrs. We have one word and one decision. The world must know that we have given the most valuable thing we have which is our children in order to defeat ISIS. There is no force in the area able to defeat this organizing but the force of our sons and daughters, who ended this organization forever. It is a shame for the world to keep more than 15,000 “ISIS” fighters without bringing them to an international tribunal. Establishing a tribunal means to punish them and let our souls and the lives of our martyrs and victims be rested in their graves.
?(What does the international community want from Rojava (Northeastern-Syria
It is unreasonable for the international community to ignore this dangerous file. About 15,000 detainees in addition to 90,000 of ISIS families in the Self-Administration prisons and guarded by the SDF. So what does this file need to be ended? The risk is still existing.
In the early days of the Turkish aggression against the regions of Rojava in Northeastern-Syria, the army of Turkish aggression attempted, through careful bombing on prisons that guarded by the SDF to make gaps in prisons walls, create chaos and to facilitate the escape of ISIS members towards Turkey. Thousands of files and documents condemn Turkey for supporting ISIS. Turkey is afraid of establishing an international tribunal because it will completely strip in front of the world. So, the most rejecter is Turkey. And the coalition forces led by America and European countries are still dodging with Erdogan to find a solution for the ISIS members. Russia, the biggest beneficiary, recently has had a political and military presence in the regions of Rojava in Northeastern-Syria. It tries in various ways to hand over the file of detainees and prisons to the Syrian government, so that the Syrian government can negotiate the world about the ISIS detainees.
America, which has returned and settled in the region to protect oil fields. It announced that the oil imports will return to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). So, the coalition countries can establish this court from imports of oil in Rojava. The presence of ISIS detainees without trial is considered a disaster for everyone in Rojava and Northeastern-Syria . The region lives on the brink of war that the Turkish President may ignite. Then there is a possibility for the ISIS organization to return again within a month and control many areas.
“Tried them here in our land, before our eyes …. We have no other words” … Mother of a martyr … on behalf of thousands families of martyrs.