British ISIS fighters can't be rehabilitated and need to be killed, says government minister

Members of the Iraqi rapid response forces fire a mortar round toward ISIS positions in Mosul.Reuters

The international development minister has said of British fighters for Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria that 'the only way of dealing with them will be, in almost every case, to kill them'.

Rory Stewart said that the converts to ISIS believed in an 'extremely hateful doctrine' and had distanced themselves from any allegiance to Britain.

Instead, they can expect to be killed because of the 'serious danger' they pose to the UK's security, Stewart said.

The government said that Stewart's comments were in line with the UK's stated position.

Stewart, a former diplomat, was speaking after Brett McGurk, a top US envoy for the coalition fighting ISIS, said that his mission was to ensure every foreign fighter in Syria dies there.

Asked about the comments on BBC Radio 5 Live's Pienaar's Politics, Stewart said they were 'very difficult moral issues'.

He said: "They are absolutely dedicated, as members of the Islamic State, towards the creation of a caliphate. They believe in an extremely hateful doctrine which involves killing themselves, killing others and trying to use violence and brutality to create an 8th century, or 7th century, state. So I'm afraid we have to be serious about the fact these people are a serious danger to us, and unfortunately, the only way of dealing with them will be, in almost every case, to kill them.'

Stewart's comments contrast with those of the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, Max Hill, who recently told the BBC that Britons who join ISIS through 'naivety' should be spared prosecution and reintegrated into society if they return home.

A government spokesperson said Stewart's comments were consistent with the position set out by the Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, earlier this month.

Sir Michael said on October 12 that British ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq had made themselves 'a legitimate target' who could end up on 'the wrong end of an RAF or USAF missile'.

Those comments came after it was reported that British ISIS recruiter Sally-Anne Jones had been killed in a US drone strike in Syria in June.