Imagine your grandparents trying to get their head around this one. Britain is at war with a foreign army. British nationals enlist in that army while it is attacking us. Our Armed Forces are engaged against them. And then, at a time of their own choosing, those British citizens fighting against Queen and country are allowed to return here with their nationality and passport both absolutely intact.
Our grandparents knew the word for what these jihadists are doing. It’s treason, a crime which once carried the death penalty. So why our shyness today in demanding that British jihadists be stripped of British citizenship, or at the very least their passports?
If this were just a matter of a few gullible teenagers from the Midlands signing up for an overseas death cult in a spectacularly stupid fit of adolescent rebellion, that might be one thing. The scale of the crisis shows it to be much, much more. There are thousands of British jihadists at war with ISIS (or Daesh, as I prefer to call them), up to their necks in the blood that group brutally sheds. Security services guess that as many as half who have gone out are already back in our midst in Britain.
What then? What when more return? Try this for another thought experiment. Already the number of foreign fighters who are veterans of the ISIS conflicts is larger than the number of foreign jihadists who fought with Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Those jihadists from Afghanistan went back to their home countries in the Middle East and helped set the whole region aflame in the years that followed. This time, the ISIS jihadists are often from countries such as ours. We can guess what they might like to do once back with us. Remember, these people retain the right to call themselves our fellow British citizens.
A government calling itself Conservative would not allow this. Theresa May, who cultivates her media posture as some sort of hardliner, would not preside over the measly number of withdrawn passports if she believed in her own tough words.
Other countries are more robust. The Australians are cracking down on dual nationality for people who serve with this death cult bent on our destruction. The Dutch are in the business of cancelling passports and freezing bank accounts when their so-called citizens sign up. Norway – which doesn’t have the problem of being stuck with daft EU norms on this – has been looking at the idea of pressing ahead with cancelling citizenship altogether for their passport-holders at war with the West.
Some might say this is too tough. Some might prefer to think of it this way, though – if you don’t want to become stateless, don’t go to war with your country.
At a minimum, we need to strip all British jihadists with dual nationality of their British citizenship. Anyone fighting for ISIS on a British passport should have that passport cancelled. And if it comes to it, making our homegrown ISIS fighters choose between British citizenship and jihad might be no bad thing. I doubt many would choose Queen over Caliphate, but at least things would be clearer – not least the meaning of a British passport.