Prosecutors have revealed that Britons who joined Islamic State in Syria and Iraq could be chargedover “conflict selfies” – posing with the dead, a particularly grisly habit of many fighters who joined the group.
A number of British Isis recruits posted pictures of themselves on social media alongside bodies or holding decapitated heads, images that prosecutors say depict the “inhumane treatment” of the deceased.
Convictions remain low among the approximately 400 British fighters who have returned from Syria, leaving prosecutors to examine increasingly inventive ways to charge Isis members.
So far just 40 individuals have been prosecuted following their return, partly because of the complexities in retrieving evidence from the battlefield. A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed that selfies taken in Syria could form a separate charge if evidence supported it.
Last month Isis recruit Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, from London, who infamously posed with a severed human head in Syria and who was once accused of being Isis executioner Jihadi John, was arrested in Spain after making it out of the Middle East.
Another high-profile Isis member, Imran Khawaja, who posted an image of himself holding a severed head on social media, was later accused of faking his own death in Syria in an attempt to return home undetected.
A CPS spokesperson said that they hadn’t yet prosecuted an individual linked to terrorism or war crimes “solely on the basis of an image”.
EU prosecutors have said they are increasingly developing “cumulative charges” against returning jihadist foreign fighters with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes among them.
A statement on Saturday from the law enforcement agency Eurojust said that more than 20 cases in Germany, France, Hungary, Finland and the Netherlands had seen extra charges added to “membership of a terrorist organisation” to increase the possibility of higher sentences.
Nadia Murad, Nobel peace prize laureate and human rights activist for the persecuted Yazidi community, said: “Living without receiving justice is another kind of torture. It is not enough for foreign Isis fighters to be tried as terrorists. This is especially true for those fighters that enslaved Yazidi women and girls.”