According to Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a number of jihadis involved in the killing of four Americans in Syria in January have been captured.
On January 16, a suicide bomber detonated in an urban restaurant in the Syrian city of Manbij, where the Americans were attending a meeting with local dignitaries. The blast killed Chief Warrant Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Farmer, a Special Forces operator assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne); Chief Cryptologic Technician Shannon Kent, a U.S. Navy interpreter; former Navy SEAL and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) contractor Scott Wirtz; and Department of Defense (DOD) contractor Ghadir Taher.
Mustafa Bali, a representative of the SDF, said in a tweet, “A group of suspects believed to be involved [in the] January 16 Manbij bombing that killed several U.S. and SDF servicemen were captured following technical surveillance by our forces. The outcome of the ongoing investigation will be shared at a later time.”
It still remains unclear what role the captured ISIS fighters played in the Manbij attack or how the SDF forces were able to link them to the incident. There also isn’t any indication of what will happen to them if their involvement is proven. Since the onset of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), extraditing terrorists to the U.S. has been a tricky process, brimming with legal and political hurdles.
American and allied policymakers and military leaders have long been perplexed by how to deal with captured ISIS fighters. To begin with, a great number of them are nationals of coalition countries. Many hail from Europe, Australia, and even the U.S. The Trump administration has been putting pressure on America’s allies to take in captured ISIS followers from their respective countries. But most European countries, including the United Kingdom, have refused to do so, arguing that, by choosing to fight for the terrorist group, the fighters recanted their citizenships.
Responding to the news, the father of Chief Farmer said in an interview with local news station WPBF, “At the end of the day all these people that have engaged in this type of behavior, all they can do is condemn them to God’s justice and mercy. People responsible for making these types of choices need to suffer the consequences of those choices.”
On March 22, the SDF claimed total victory over ISIS. “Syrian Democratic Forces declare total elimination of so-called caliphate and 100 percent territorial defeat of ISIS. On this unique day, we commemorate thousands of martyrs whose efforts made the victory possible,” said Bali in another tweet.
But the fighting is far from over. It might be that the last ISIS enclave in Baghouz has been cleared, but hundreds if not thousands of terrorists remain free. And these are the fanatics who are committed to destruction and terror.