On Wednesday, President Trump sent an uncompromising message to European leaders including Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron — if these European countries don’t take back their captured ISIS fighters, he will release them back into their countries.
Explaining that the US cannot be expected to pay the cost of keeping these prisoners in Guantanamo Bay for the next 50 years, Trump said, “If Europe doesn’t take them, then I have no choice but to release them into the countries from which they came, which is Germany, and France, and other places.”
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As The Daily Mail reported, Trump told reporters,
“We’re holding thousands of ISIS fighters right now, and Europe has to take them. We beat them. We captured them. We’ve got thousands of them. And now, as usual, our allies say, ‘Oh. no. We don’t want them.’ Even though they came from France and Germany and other places. We’re going to tell them and we’ve already told them, ‘Take these prisoners that we’ve captured because the United States is not going to put them in Guantanamo for the next 50 years and pay for it.’ If Europe doesn’t take them, then I have no choice but to release them into the countries from which they came, which is Germany, and France, and other places.”
Trump concluded, “It’s moving along, my deadline. They know.”
Hours later, the president repeated his assertion before a group of veterans in Kentucky, saying, “Certain countries in Europe, they’ve got to take them back. Because we don’t want to hold them. They’d rather have us hold them, and let us have them for 50 years. We don’t want them. They should take them. Do we agree? They should take them? They say to us, ‘Why don’t you hold them in Guantanamo Bay for 50 years and you just hold them and spend billions and billions of dollars holding them.’ And I’m saying, ‘No, you gotta take them.’”
The Daily Mail wrote, “The White House and State Department have been pressuring governments in Europe to take back thousands of jihadis and their brides captured when ISIS collapsed – and having no success – for nearly two years, a source with knowledge of the conversations told DailyMail.com last week.”
In early August, Trump stated, “We have thousands of ISIS fighters that we want Europe to take, and let’s see if they take them. If they don’t take them, we’ll probably have to release them to Europe.” NBC News reported at the time, “Experts estimate U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces hold some 800 European ISIS fighters in makeshift prisons, but the mostly Kurdish militia group is struggling to maintain them more than four months after ISIS lost the last significant part of its so-called caliphate.”
Last February Trump tweeted, “The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial. The Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them. The U.S. does not want to watch as these ISIS fighters permeate Europe, which is where they are expected to go. We do so much, and spend so much — Time for others to step up and do the job that they are so capable of doing. We are pulling back after 100% Caliphate victory!”